Postgraduate Research

Join Our Thriving Research Community

We welcome applications at any time from prospective applicants for our taught MA in Medieval Studies, and from prospective PhD students wishing to join our thriving postgraduate research community. Below is a list of some of our current students:


Yana Bespalchikova

Thesis Topic: The Gothic oral tradition in the Getica of Jordanes

Yana Bespalchikova is an MPhil/PhD student and a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the School of Humanities and Heritage. She obtained her BA in History in the St. Petersburg State University (Russia) with distinction in 2017. In 2019 she graduated with distinction from the Department of Philology of the same university and defended her MA thesis on Classical Studies. From 2019 to 2022 she did her research work on a programme of Cultural Anthropology at the European University at St. Petersburg. Her research interests include the Early Medieval narratives, orality in the written texts, and structural analysis in comparative studies.

She is currently working on her thesis supervised by Dr Graham Barrett, Professor Jamie Wood, and Dr Robert Portass. Her thesis is an attempt to establish a methodology that can provide scholars with approaches to studying the reflection of living oral culture on the written text in circumstances when there are no recordings of its tradition to compare with. The material for analysis in this thesis is the Gothic history (Getica) of Jordanes, the Latin historical narrative of the sixth century.


Francesca Cannon

Thesis Topic: ‘Replacement wives and replacement mothers?’: A study of three royal stepmothers in Northern Europe, 1274-1327

Francesca studied for her undergraduate degree in English and History at the University of Keele and studied for her masters in Medieval Studies at the University of Lincoln. Her interests during this time focused on perceptions of medieval gender, particularly, though not exclusively women, and reputation.

Her thesis considers three relatively unstudied medieval queens: Marie of Brabant, Queen of France, Margaret of France, Queen of England, and Elizabeth de Burgh, Queen of Scots, whose queenships occurred between the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Her study of these three women looks at their role as second wives to their husbands, and particularly at their roles as stepmothers and their relationships to their husbands' legitimate children from previous marriages.


Lynsey Coombs

Thesis Topic: The impact of medievalism on the curation of castles in the 21st century

Lynsey Coombs is a part-time PhD student in the School of History and Heritage. She obtained her BA in History at Newcastle University in 2008 and her MA is Museum Studies at the University of Leicester in 2016. Lynsey has over 12 years’ experience as a heritage professional and has worked for a number of organisations including Chatsworth House, English Heritage and University of Cambridge Museums. She is currently a Collections and House Manager at the National Trust based in Norfolk.

Lynsey’s PhD thesis explores the impacts of medievalism on the presentation and reception of castles as heritage sites in England. Her research examines whether castles tell the stories of the Middle Ages through the lens of medievalism, and if they do, what impact this has on visitors’ understanding about the building’s history.


Sarah Coyne

Thesis Topic: A song of love and hope: Gregory the Great’s complete exegesis on the Song of Songs and its political, moral and social influence throughout his life

Sarah studied for her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at Bishop Otter College, Chichester and studied for her masters in Medieval Studies at the University of Lincoln. Her interests during this time focused on Christianity and its changes throughout the epochs culminating in different rules and laws within each age. Sarah is currently studying full time for her MPhil/PhD and is supervised by Professor Jamie Wood and Dr Graham Barrett.

Her thesis considers how the Song of Songs was used by Gregory the Great and how it featured consistently throughout his written works including letters. Gregory the Great’s Exposition on the Song originated from the conferences he gave to a small group of monks and clerics during his papacy in the mid 590’s. Although it was intended to provide Gregory’s audience with resources to address the temptation of the flesh and the battle between body and spirit, it also was used to instruct elite members of the Church on how to conduct their business within monasteries, and dioceses across Italy and Europe.


Katherine Delaney

Thesis Topic: The earls and countesses of Surrey: the Warenne Family, 1248-1361

Katherine Delaney studied for her Master’s degree in Medieval History at King' College, London, achieving a merit. Having taken her PGCE at Homerton College, Cambridge, she went on to teach primary aged children, becoming Acting Head of the Junior School at Northwood College for Girls. She has always had a passion for medieval history and is now studying with Professor Louise Wilkinson, researching the last two earls of Surrey for her MPhil/PhD.

Her thesis aims to look at the earls and countesses of Surrey, the Warenne family, from 1248 to 1361. Her research addresses these questions: what political power did the earls and countesses of Surrey enjoy at local and national levels and how did this alter over time; and how successfully did the earls and countesses of Surrey administer their estates and adapt to economic and social change.


Zeynep Ece Bakala

Thesis Topic: Unearthing female voices from the margins: intercultural encounters of female pilgrims across medieval Iberia and the Mediterranean

Zeynep Ece Bakala is a PhD/Mhil student in Medieval Studies and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the School of History and Heritage. She completed her BA in Translation and Interpreting Studies at Yeditepe University in Türkiye in 2020, and obtained her MA in English Literary Studies at University of Exeter in 2022. Her research interests are medieval women, travel, pilgrimage, and cultural encounters. 

She is currently working on her thesis under the supervision of Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo, Professor Amy Livingstone and Professor Louise Wilkinson. In her thesis, she examines medieval women's cultural, social, and political encounters during pilgrimages in Iberia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, focusing primarily on the literary sources to explore the roles pilgrimage and pilgrimage sites played in forming and shaping medieval women's social and cultural perceptions and attitudes.


Bethany Elliott

Thesis Topic: Lincolnshire's historical manors (PhD by Practice)

Bethany is a PhD student and an Associate Lecturer in the School of History and Heritage. She joined the University of Lincoln in 2019 to conduct research into Lincolnshire’s historical manors, as part of a PhD by Practice. In 2012, she completed a BA (Hons) in Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, before completing an MSc in Forensic Investigation at Cranfield University in 2014. The use of archives for research during these studies led to her interest in the practice and she has since undertaken archival training at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, specialising in Medieval Latin and palaeography, before completing an MA in Archive Administration at Aberystwyth University, to become a qualified archivist in 2017.

She began working on the Manorial Documents Register Project (MDR) with the National Archives in 2018. The project aims to locate, revise and digitise a list of all the manorial documents for England and Wales. Having completed the project for Cheshire, she is now completing the same, for Lincolnshire as part of a PhD by Practice. Her research involves not only completing the project, but also reflecting on archival practice within a project of this scale; including the challenges of locating the records, using multiple archive catalogues and making the MDR user-friendly. In addition to this, as the MDR project is now nearing its thirtieth year and has been completed in all but three English counties, Bethany’s research analyses how the project could have been affected by advances in technology and user search methods during this timescale, as well as how the register will improve the understanding of manorial records in Lincolnshire.

Update: Bethany completed her PhD in 2022. Many congratulations!


Heather Glover

Thesis Topic: Affective engagement with medieval contemplative writing, 1840-1912

Heather Glover is a PhD candidate in Medieval Studies and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the School of Humanities and Heritage at the University of Lincoln. Her research focuses on medieval contemplative writing and its post-medieval reception, particularly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing on recent theories of affect and contemplative scholarship, she works on the role of faith, emotion, and time in literary and artistic responses to medieval literature.

Heather is interested in book history, working on a range of material contexts from medieval manuscripts to arts and crafts printing presses. Her research incorporates contemplative and mystic texts written in a range of medieval languages and has a strong emphasis on translation studies. Before coming to Lincoln, Heather completed her undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature at Worcester College, University of Oxford, and her MPhil in English Studies at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. Her MPhil research was on “Medieval Women’s Contemplative Writing and Victorian Poetry, 1860-1910” and was fully funded by the Hugh and Velma Richmond Studentship in Medieval Literature at her Cambridge college.


Tina Lesley Jessica Holt

Thesis Topic: Thomas Bek: Familial networks, ecclesiastical responsibility and politics

Jessica studied her MA in Medieval Studies at the University of Lincoln and is now a full-time MPhil/PhD student in History with Prof. Louise Wilkinson and Dr Michele Vescovi.

Her thesis examines how different ecclesiastical networks impacted upon the administration of the diocese of Lincoln during the tenure of Bishop Thomas Bek (who served as the Bishop of Lincoln between 1342 and 1347). Thomas Bek’s registers have largely been unexplored, and this project aims to provide new insights into this neglected figure’s time in episcopal office. It considers how familial connections within the Church; internal pressures within the Church; and the changing needs of the diocese influenced and affected the contents of his registers during his tenure.


Travis Linehan

Thesis Topic: The institution of Merovingian queenship

Travis Linehan is a part-time MPhil/PhD student in Medieval Studies. He achieved a BA Historical Archaeology at the University of York and obtained an MA in Medieval Studies at the University of Lincoln.

Travis's interests are in both Frankish history and the study of historical queenship and his thesis, supervised by Drs Graham Barrett and Robert Portass, is focused on defining queenship as an institution within the Merovingian kingdoms, using a mixture of personal letters, record evidence, archaeological evidence, and contemporary histories written by figures such as Gregory of Tours.


Val Marden

Thesis Topic: Lions, dragons and other fabulous creatures: understanding animal representations at Lincoln Cathedral, 1250-1350

Val Marden is a part-time MPhil/PhD student in the School of History and Heritage. She obtained her BA in Archaeological Studies at the University of Leicester before working within various government departments and the RAF, and before taking early retirement from full time employment in 2016. She gained her MA (with Distinction) in the study of the Country House at the University of Leicester in 2018. Her dissertation examined the decoration of eighteenth-century English country house furniture with animal forms and motifs.

Val’s thesis continues the theme of animal representations, as she explores the potential meanings behind some of the creatures sculpted in stone at Lincoln Cathedral during the years 1250-1350, an important timescale encompassing several significant building projects. Such images have often been dismissed as meaningless, merely decorative, grotesque or just amusing japes by masons, yet they are situated in important spaces where they were seen by both laity and the clergy. Val’s research examines the likely significance of the animals and monsters in the spaces they inhabit, how the representations of creatures change over time and what effect they may have had on their different viewers.


Nicola C. Meyrick

Thesis Topic: Continuity, martyrdom and assimilation: remaining Christian in Al-Andalus

Nicola studied for a BA in American History and Politics at Manchester, and then worked for many years at the BBC as a current affairs producer and editor. She took early retirement in 2015 and then did an MA in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at King’s College, London. She still has some involvement in journalism and is a trustee of a broadcasting charity. She has seen leaving the BBC as an opportunity to follow her lifelong passion for Spain and for medieval history. She is now researching a thesis, supervised by Dr Jamie Wood, on the lives and practices of Christians living in the parts of the Iberian peninsula under Muslim rule between (approximately) 711 and 1085.


Sonya Nikiforova 

Thesis Topic: Gendering high medieval rulership: The construction and performance of relational categories of femininity and masculinity in early Capetian and Anglo-Norman royal couples, 1050-1189.

Sonya Nikiforova is an MPhil/PhD student in the School of History and Heritage. She obtained her BSc in International Relations in the University of London in 2020. In 2023 she graduated with distinction from the MLitt in History programme of the University of the Highlands and Islands. She is interested in high and late medieval queenship in England and France, social and cultural roots of the formation of the categories of femininity and masculinity in Western Europe, and Breton courtly culture. 

She is currently working on her PhD thesis supervised by Professor Amy Livingstone (University of Lincoln) and Professor Katherine Lewis (University of Huddersfield). Her thesis is a comparative study of the construction and performance of masculinities and femininities within royal couples in England and France between 1050 and 1189. Sonya is aimed at exploring the relational nature and fluidity of gender performance of kings and queens, and at challenging the idea of a strict gendered 'division of duties' within English and French royal couples. In particular, she looks at Matilda of Scotland and Henry I, Matilda of Boulogne and Stephen of Blois, Anne of Kiev and Henry I, and Adelaide of Maurienne and Louis VI.


Susan Phillips

Thesis Topic: Family Dynamics, Networks, and Intergenerational Influences: Women as Agents of Christianisation in Merovingian Gaul and Anglo-Saxon England

With a BA in French and History from the University of Leeds, and following a long career in education, teaching firstly modern foreign languages in secondary schools, then BA Education Studies at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, Sue completed her Master’s degree in Medieval Studies at the University of Lincoln in 2019. Passionate about lifelong learning, Sue also completed a BSc in Geosciences with the Open University in 2014. She is now a part-time MPhil/PhD student, having begun her research in October 2020 under the supervision of Drs Graham Barrett, Robert Portass, and Jamie Wood.

Inspired by letters written by senior churchmen to Merovingian princesses in the late 6th and early 7th century urging them to secure the conversion of their pagan husbands by obeying the scriptures and by following the example of their common ancestor Queen Clothilde, wife of Clovis I, Sue is interested to know to what extent female intergenerational influences impacted on women as agents of Christianisation in the Merovingian and Anglo-Saxon periods. Her thesis poses two main questions. Firstly, with a specific focus on women, how do contemporary texts and letter collections of Merovingian Gaul portray the importance of, and attitudes towards, maintaining the elite family unit? And secondly, as a consequence, to what extent did family heritage and intergenerational influences impact on the religious beliefs and actions of younger generations of women?


Mark Presneill

Thesis Topic: Lincolnshire baronial family fortunes in the 12th Century: A comparative study of four lesser-known families between 1066 and 1216

Mark is a part-time PhD student in the School of Humanities and Heritage.  He obtained his BA in History at Cardiff University in 1987 and his MA in Curriculum Studies at Christ Church Canterbury in 1994.  Mark has over 30 years’ experience as a teacher of History and 15 years as a senior member of staff in a large Lincolnshire comprehensive school.

Mark’s PhD thesis examines the success and failure of a small number of lesser known Lincolnshire baronial families during the 12th century; Blankney, Freiston, Redbourne and Tattershall. The research investigates the impact of the changes to central government on local baronies and how powerful these families were in their areas of influence.  There is consideration of the different strategies these families employed to survive, maintain and extend influence.


John Sandy-Hindmarch

Thesis Topic: The memory of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings among reenactors and living historians

John Sandy-Hindmarch is a PhD student in the School of Film and Media. Having achieved a 1st in History at Nottingham Trent University in 2016, he then went on to obtain an MA in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies from the University of Nottingham. Since completing his MA in 2018, John’s research interests have shifted from analysing these early medieval peoples in their historical context towards how they have been perceived and remembered since their historical occurrence, particularly in the present.

In this context, John’s PhD project explores how the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings are understood, received, and connected with by Anglo-Saxon and Viking reenactors and living historians. Employing a qualitative method, John looks to uncover the nature of these individuals’ understanding of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking past, how this understanding is formed, and the extent to which their connections to the period are emotionally charged. Through this research John hopes to make a valuable contribution to the fields of both medievalism and memory studies, exploring how a period of the distant medieval past is brought into relation with the present.


Gary Stephen

Thesis Topic: The impact of Christian philosophies of animal rationality on ecclesiastical hunting practices in 13th Century England

Gary is a full-time MPhil/PhD student with the School of History and Heritage. He obtained his BA in English and History Studies from the University of Lincoln/UCNL in 2019. Following this, he came to Lincoln to complete an MA in Medieval Studies, which he achieved in 2020.

He is currently working on a doctoral thesis under the supervision of Professor Louise Wilkinson and Dr Jamie Wood. His work seeks to examine the ways in which 13th Century philosophers and theologians sought to make sense of an expanding understanding and experience of animal behaviour through the practice of Natural Philosophy. As animals came to be seen as more complex than previously assumed, it became important for scholars to establish a boundary between human and non-human animals. Further, the thesis seeks to examine the ways in which these arguments influenced and informed the hunting practices of English ecclesiastics and their subordinates.


Paula Del Val Vales

Thesis topic: Iberian and English queens’ households in the thirteenth century

Paula Del Val Vales is an MPhil/PhD student in the School of History and Heritage. She obtained her BA in History in the Universidad Complutense of Madrid with distinction in 2019. In 2020 she completed her MA in Medieval Studies at King’s College London. Her research interests include Iberian and English queenship, royal households, and women’s history.

She is currently working on her thesis supervised by Professor Louise Wilkinson and Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo. Her thesis is a comparative study of queens’ households and courts in the thirteenth century across three kingdoms: Castile, Aragon, and England. Through this thesis she aims to explore the queens’ establishments, their resources and personnel, and whether their households constituted their own power bases or not. This thesis will also have a particular focus on the unedited household and wardrobe accounts of Eleanor of Provence, queen of England.


We also work closely with research students in Classics, who share similar interests in Latin culture:


Joe Broderick

Thesis topic: The epigrammatist Martial as social commentator on Flavian Imperial Rome

Joe Broderick has recently started his PhD with the School of History and Heritage, following his graduation with a First-Class Honours Degree in History BA, and a Distinction Pass in his MA in Medieval Studies. He specialised in Roman and early to mid-medieval history, particularly the Roman army and their relationship with the emperors, and Anglo-Saxon England. His supervisors for his project are Dr Graham Barrett and Dr Jamie Wood, with Graham acting as lead supervisor.

His thesis concerns the first-century AD epigram writer Martial, and his potential role as social commentator. We can see through his work, in his presentation of the everyday life occurrences in the Rome of his day. Broadly speaking, this research project will aim to fill in some of the gaps in the social history of early imperial Rome through Martial’s Epigrams and analysis of the literary genre, giving us greater awareness of the picture of Rome and her people Martial sought to portray, within the framework of a social (and to an extent literary) history study.

Many historians have pointed out that, due to the nature of Martial’s writing and the contradictions present within the Epigrams, his presentations of everyday life cannot be taken at face value. Some have even gone so far as to dismiss Martial as a source of any serious historical study, a chief reason for this selection of Martial for my thesis. This does not negate the value of the source for research, it just needs a more gentle and nuanced examination. It is arguable that Martial’s Epigrams offer richer and more varied depictions of Rome’s places, objects, and structures than any previous work in the Roman poetic tradition, and it is through these examinations the aims can be achieved.