The Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney was established by the Senate at the beginning of 1997 as a Centre of the University. It was formally inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gavin Brown, on Friday 29th August 1997 when the Centre celebrated its inauguration with a one-day symposium at which papers were presented by several speakers, both local and from overseas. They included the Centre's Director, Professor Margaret Clunies Ross, Professor Nigel Palmer from the University of Oxford, Dr Carol Williams, Department of Music, Monash University, and Dr John O. Ward, History Department, University of Sydney.

The impetus to establish the Centre came in 1996, when a group of medievalists at the University of Sydney decided to make their existing research and teaching strengths in Medieval Studies more visible to the University and to the world outside. It was decided to establish a body to coordinate their work, promote their activities, and develop Medieval Studies both in the Sydney region and more widely. We were greatly assisted in our work by a generous grant of research funds from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research in late 1996. In late 2000 the Centre was formally recognised as one of the University of Sydney's 21 areas of major research strength and the additional funding generated through this recognition has enabled the Centre to fund a number of workshops.

One of the Centre’s objectives is to capitalise on existing resources at the University of Sydney, both in terms of academics' expertise across a wide range of disciplines and in terms of student talent. These resources also include Fisher Library, with one of the strongest collections in the field in the southern hemisphere.

Another objective is to make the facilities of the Centre available, both to scholars and students at other universities and to the general public, by promoting events such as lectures, seminars, workshops, study days, book launches, symposia, and conferences which attract audiences from Australia and abroad. From time to time, as funds allow, the Centre has Visiting Fellows in residence for short periods.

The Centre, in collaboration with Brepols Publishers (Belgium), sponsors Making the Middle Ages, the monograph series on post-medieval constructions of the Middle Ages. From 2006, a new Brepols series, Medieval Voyaging, will run parallel to, and gradually replace, Making the Middle Ages.

There are three major strands in the Centre's research endeavours:

  • intercivilisational relations, with special reference to the Mediterranean and the Middle East,
  • text editing, both conventional and electronic,
  • medievalism and the history of Medieval Studies.