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MRes in Classical Reception

The Classical World is always with us. The history and culture of Classical Antiquity have passed down to us through generations of thinkers: writers, artists, scholars have worried about the Classical past and the lessons that it can teach us. The Classical legacy has shaped modern thought. Consequently, the Classical has shaped the modern. This one-year, research-based postgraduate course leads students to explore that legacy and to develop skills in research and methodology in this fascinating and growing field of intellectual history.

The programme is taught by members of the Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome (CRGR) in the Classics department at Royal Holloway. The Centre brings together the department’s wide range of research expertise on areas as wide as political and literary philosophy, urbanism, literary receptions, science fictions, and popular culture. It offers opportunities for collaborative work with other Royal Holloway departments and other London institutions, and the unrivalled research resources available in central London.

The MRes in Classical Reception is available for full time study (one year) or part-time study (two years). Part-time students take the taught element and begin preparatory work on their dissertation in their first year, and spend the second year completing the dissertation.

Programme Structure

  • Core course ‘Making the Classical Past’
  • A 30,000-35,000 word dissertation

Making the Classical Past introduces students to a broad range of approaches to the field of classical reception, one of the most dynamic, influential fields in the discipline of Classics. The legacies of ancient Greece and Rome have been passed down to us through generations of thinkers, writers, artists and scholars. They have shaped Western and non-Western thought right up to the modern era, and are shaped by it. The module is organised into three, broad interrelated strands that draw on the expertise of staff and the interests of students. Individual taught sessions explore topics such as the classical tradition, social and political theory, critical theory and thought, history and literature, gender, postcolonial theory, urban design and theory, aesthetics, popular culture, cinema, children’s literature, electronic media, visual studies and fine art, radical politics, intellectual history, philosophy and the history of ideas. The module guides you in exploring the legacies of the ancient world and helps you develop your critical and research skills, to understand methodology and the craft of academic writing.

Sample Outline of Core Course 

This is a sample outline of the sort of topics that could be covered in the core course. The course content is changed every year depending on staff availability and student interest.

  1. Welcome meeting
  2. Gendering the Persephone Myth: Joyce Carol Oates and Doris Lessing
  3. Myth outside the West: Derek Walcott’s Homeros (Books 1 and 2)
  4. City and Country/Rus and Urbs
  5. Historical Fictions
  6. Politicising Myth: Tony Harrison's Prometheus
  7. Political Cultures: Empires
  8. Philosophical Cultures: Foucault and Philosophies of Sexuality
  9. Reception and Cinema
  10. Classical reception and science fiction


The dissertation of 30,000 to 35,000 words is the principal component of this MRes. Students are supported by a series of workshops in the autumn, spring and summer terms which provide key skills and guidance in developing the dissertation topic, gathering research materials, presenting work, preparing the text of the dissertation and so on. During the spring and summer term, you will meet with your individual supervisor on a regular basis to discuss progress, submit work and develop your ideas. You will submit a draft of the dissertation to you supervisor by the end of Summer Term for feedback; the summer vacation is then spent making improvements, amendments, and revisions. 

Examples of dissertations 

The flexibility of the MRes in Classical Reception allows students to really dig deeply into a subject that interests them. Past dissertations have included:

Women from Classics on the stage: Performance and Representation of Female Gender in Early Opera

Classical Reception in the Work of Women Writers in Nineteenth Century Britain

The Reception of the Myth of Persephone in Young Adult Fiction

The Function of Classical Reference in Modern Science Fiction

The Aesthetics of the Heroic Body

The Hero’s Epic Quest in Virgil, Dante and Milton


For further information about the MRes in Classical Reception, please contact the Programme Director, Dr. Liz Gloyn.


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