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Rhetoric MRes


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Year of entry 2017
Course Length 1 year full time
2 years part time
Department Classics »

Want to master the art of persuasion? If you’re also looking for a postgraduate degree course that equips you with the transferable skills of research, analysis, critical thought and communication, then this course is for you.

The only course of its kind to be offered by a major UK university, this one-year, research-based postgraduate course in oratory and rhetoric is designed for all students, not just those with a background in classics. It is ideal for those looking for onward progression into a career or further studies where an ability to construct and deliver persuasive arguments, as well as analyse and evaluate those presented by others, is key.

Combining both ancient and modern fields of research, the course is taught at the Centre of Oratory and Rhetoric in the Royal Holloway Classics Department. With the primary emphasis on the practice of oratory, the course draws on the department’s scholarly expertise to deliver a core module on Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric plus a wide range of complementary optional courses. Add to that access to experts in rhetoric and oratory from around the world as well as world-class research resources and we guarantee MRes Rhetoric students will finish the course equipped with a range of analytical and research skills, fully adept in the art of persuasion. 

Core modules

Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric

The module will equip you with the basis of knowledge and understanding of the subject area necessary to pursue research in rhetoric, especially understanding of the classically-based disciplines of argumentation and rhetorical analysis. It will provide you with a range of research skills and methods, enabling you to complete your independent projects and dissertation successfully. The module will prepare you for further work at PhD level and offer an opportunity to reflect constructively on the significance of research in rhetoric for your future career. Topics covered may include: theory and practice of rhetoric including speechwriting, delivery and performance; speeches in literature, drama and historiography modern as well as classical; legal argumentation and the rhetoric of advocacy; political oratory; funerary orations and other types of epideictic oratory; appeals to emoions and character projection; ancient and modern rhetorical education and training; the Platonic tradition of scepticism about rhetoric, modern as well as ancient; methods for analysing rhetorical strategy, structure and style. In particular, students will have the opportunity to try out classical methods of rhetorical training in practice. All non-English texts are studied in translation.

Independent Project on Rhetoric 1

The topic of the project is to be decided in the first term and must be approved by the Programme Director. You will be encouraged to build on your previous experience and on your study of the topics covered in Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric and in any optional modules taken. You are encouraged to plan your work for the Independent Projects and for the dissertation as a coherent whole. The project may take the form of, for example, a self-standing essay on a topic in ancient or modern oratory and rhetoric, a ‘pilot’ study of an area to be covered in more detail in the dissertation and to be read in conjunction with it, a critical survey of scholarly literature on a particular subject in the field of oratory and rhetoric, a critical commentary and rhetorical analysis of an ancient or modern text, or a comparison of two or more texts from different cultures / periods from a rhetorical point of view. Students with a knowledge of Latin and / or Greek are encouraged to include work on texts in the original language(s).

Independent Project on Rhetoric 2

The topic of the project is to be decided in the first term and must be approved by the Programme Director. You will be encouraged to choose topics related to the topic envisaged for your dissertation and to plan your work for the Independent Projects and the dissertation as a coherent whole, though projects on less closely related topics in the field of rhetoric are also acceptable. It is intended that Project 2 should give the opportunity, should you who wish to do so, to undertake a more creative type of project, involving, for example, a piece of original composition applying and exemplifying the techniques of rhetoric and argumentation studies during the programme, a reconstruction of the performance of a speech, or similar. Supporting audiovisual materials may be submitted together with the material for assessment (e.g. a video of an oral presentation or performance of a speech) or, with the approval of the Programme Director, may be substituted for the written assessment either in whole or in part - in this case, specific guidelines regarding the scope of the alternative submission must be agreed in advance.


Dissertation (60 credits)

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Oratory and Identity

The module will cover rhetoric in action from early Greek history to the fourth century AD, embracing both Greek and Roman culture. All texts will be studied in English translation. The module will outline the history of the speech as a means to articulate identities, e.g. civic, political, religious, cultural, racial, gender. Certain key texts will be studied in detail to highlight the importance of structure and arrangement, use of rhetorical devices, argumentation, mechanisms of identity construction. These will be chosen from a wide range of authors and contexts, to illustrate the versatility of the genre: funeral speech, philosophical debate, ‘show-piece’ exercises, speeches of praise and satire, parody of the speech, religious sermons. A key aim of the module is to use these texts to show you how techniques used in one time period can be transferred and used, with modifications, in others. 

Alternatively you may take an optional course or courses to the value of 40 credits to be chosen (subject to the approval of the Programme Director) from a list of courses offered by the Department, or by another department at Royal Holloway, or by other London institutions as part of the Intercollegiate MA programmes in Classics, Ancient History, or Late Antique and Byzantine Studies.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation. 

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

Relevant experience in any profession involving communication such as law, politics or the media would be seen as an advantage

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies see here.


International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below




Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

Additional information:

Applicants may be invited for interview or may be asked to submit a sample of written work

A successful applicant will usually have the following qualities:

  • Interest in the arts of communication both in theory and in practice, and in the history of rhetorical theory and practice
  • Good all-round academic qualifications
  • Good oral and written communication skills and the capacity to develop them further
  • Capacity and desire to pursue independent research and develop research skills

Graduates of classical degrees have much to offer potential employers having developed a range of transferable skills, both practical and theoretical, whilst studying with us. With up to 90% of our most recent graduates now working or in further study, according to the Complete University Guide 2015, it’s true to say our graduates are highly employable.

In recent years, PhD graduates, many of whom have progressed from our MA programmes, have taken up academic positions at Oxford, Bristol and Roehampton Universities. Outside of academia, our graduates have embarked on teaching careers in the UK and overseas, undertaken archaeological and museum work and pursued careers in journalism, finance, politics and the arts.

With the MRes Rhetoric course designed to equip you with the skills of research, analysis, critical thought and communication graduates are best placed for continuing onto PhD studies or for pursuing non-academic careers, especially those involving communication (such as law, politics, the media, advertising, or teaching).

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £14,500

Home and EU and students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £7,000

Other essential costs: Should you decide to take courses taught in London, you may incurr additional travel costs

Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fees given above apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis.  Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee and information is available from the Royal Holloway Student Fees Office on Student-Fees@rhul.ac.uk. All fees are likely to rise annually in line with inflation, but by no more than 5 per cent per year.

For further information, please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

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