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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 23, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies at Laurier 

The Medieval Studies program at Laurier is strongly interdisciplinary, drawing on the expertise and research of professors from a variety of departments and faculties, including 

  • Music
  • History
  • English and Film Studies
  • Languages & Literatures
  • Religion & Culture
  • Archaeology 
  • Classical Studies

This breadth of expertise gives students the opportunity to explore from a multi-disciplinary perspective the rich and the complex civilization of the Middle Ages in terms of the medieval past and as a legacy of our modern culture. 

You can choose to study traditional Medieval Studies (through, for example, Latin, medieval music, medieval Christianity or Arthurian romance) or focus on today’s fascination with medieval stories and images (through areas such as Tolkien and fantasy literature or medieval culture as it is expressed in popular music and art). You can also combine these two fields.

Laurier offers Medieval Studies as an honours (four-year) program in combination with another honours program such as History, English or Classics, or as a minor alongside a major in another program.

Program highlights

  • Laurier’s Medieval Studies program is unique for a North American institution. It links contemporary attitudes towards myths, heroes, magic, fantasy, science fiction, crafts and role-paying clubs, films such as the Harry Potter series, and video games such as Age of the Empires. 
  • Laurier’s is the only Medieval Studies program in Ontario (perhaps in North America) that begins right in year 1 with an intensive and challenging course dedicated entirely to interdisciplinary study of the Middle Ages. 
  • Our researchers have international reputations in the areas of Medieval history, colonialism, images of saints, sermon studies, gender studies, music manuscripts from France, archaeology, spirituality, and Old English, Middle English, Old Norse, and fantasy literature. Much of this research has been continually funded by significant and prestigious government grants.

Courses offered 

First year 

  • Medieval Europe: The High Middle Ages
  • Discovering the Middle Ages
  • Music History

Popular/Interesting courses

  • The Church and Its Impact
  • Medieval Rennaissances
  • Medieval Drama
  • Medieval Culture in Pop or Art Music

Admission requirements 

 4U Requirements IB Requirements  Admission Range
 English at 60% HL or SL English at 4 

Mid 70s

IB Minimum score: 28


The latest Ontario University Graduate Survey indicates that 90 per cent of arts graduates are employed within six months of graduation. A degree in Medieval Studies can lead to graduate studies in the same field, or can be used for entry into professional areas of study such as law, business, journalism or education

Student experience 

0000CGirardi_Medieval.jpgChristine Girardi has always adored learning about the past, particularly the medieval period. So it comes as no surprise that she decided to focus her studies on her favorite era in history when she came to Laurier. “The medieval period appealed to me more than others because Laurier offers the opportunity to study it from many different points of view, not only from a historian’s, but also from a philosopher’s and musician’s.” 

Aside from finding the right program to reflect her interests, Girardi chose Laurier because of the sense of community on campus and its smaller size. “I wanted a more personal educational experience, where my professors know my name and face,” she says. 

Girardi is co-president of the Medieval Students’ Society and was a member of the Student Arts Council. After graduating, Girardi hopes to complete her Master’s degree in Museum Studies or Medieval Studies with dreams of one day becoming an educational coordinator at a museum. 

Faculty experience 

0000Dr.Kirsten_Yri_Medieval.jpgThe influence of the Middle Ages on contemporary music and popular culture is one of the interests of Laurier music historian Dr. Kristen Yri. “The popular music world has been an increasing number of bands that either use medieval texts, sample recordings of medieval music, or compose music that sounds like it dates from the medieval period,” she says. 

“Heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath and progressive rock bands like Gentle Giant and Genesis have borrowed medieval modes and medieval imagery,” she says. Medieval music, especially chant, is often sampled in electronic and techno music, reinterpreted by contemporary composers such as John Tavener and Arvo Part, and is being composed anew by artists such as Dead Can Dance and the Medieval Bæbes. 

“Medievalism is topical,” Yri says. “Each medieval return is fashioned to suit contemporary needs and tell us more about ourselves than it does about our past.”