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Hellenic Studies MA

Please note that information displayed here should be used for indicative purposes only. Entry criteria, fees and course structure for postgraduate study commencing in September 2018 will be confirmed during the spring of that year.

UCAS code
Year of entry
Course length
1 year full time
2 years part time
History »
Location of study
Main Campus (Egham) »
Central London »

The MA in Hellenic Studies enables students to develop their knowledge and appreciation of Greek history and culture, from the Homeric and Classical age, through the Hellenistic and Roman times, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period to the modern world. It is suitable for students from a wide range of different discipline and ideal if you are interested in progressing to doctoral research in Greek History and Culture.  It can also lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and cultural sectors.

Through your studies you will examine the elements which characterise Hellenic culture through the centuries, at the same time acquiring a deeper knowledge of a certain period and discipline, including philosophy, history, law, religion, theatre, language, literature, epigraphy, papyrology and palaeography.

You will be taught by experts from the College’s Hellenic Institute, a research centre for the diachronic and interdisciplinary study of Hellenism. The Hellenic Institute brings together teaching and research on the language, literature and history of Ancient Greece from across the College. It promotes the study of Greek language, literature and history, from the archaic and classical age, through the Hellenistic and Roman times, Byzantium and the Post-Byzantine period, to the establishment of the Modern Greek State and the modern world.

  • Become part of the Hellenic Institute where we bring together, at a national and international level, all those who share its interests. We collaborate closely with other Colleges and research centres in the University of London as well as the British Library, Lambeth Palace Library and The Hellenic Centre, a cultural meeting place for the Greek community in London.
  • Participate in a number of research projects and seminars, lectures and conferences hosted by the Hellenic Institute.
  • Annual fees-only studentships, bursaries and other awards are offered by the Institute in support of its students. 
  • Royal Holloway has one of the largest and liveliest History departments in the UK yet our size is not at the cost of anonymity; you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community.

Core modules

The Hellenic Tradition

In this module you will develop an understanding of the Hellenic tradition as it developed over the centuries, from Homer and Classical Antiquity, through the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world of Late Antiquity, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period, to the modern world. You will examine Helleic ideas and ideals as expressed in philosophy and literature, law and religion, art and architecture. You will look Greek paideia, considering the ways in which different generations have interpreted Greek culture, and analyse different levels of historical and literatery intrepretation of the Greeks and their relevance.


You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervsior, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length. 

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.

Greek Law and Lawcourts

Our main evidence for the Athenian democracy in the fourth century are the speeches composed for delivery in court. At the same time, the speeches also offer a unique insight into Athenian social relations and social values through the stories told by individual litigants to their audiences consisting of large number of ordinary citizens who were serving as judges. This module offers an opportunity to study the ways in which the lives of the inhabitants of late fifth and fourth century Athens – citizens, resident aliens, and slaves – were regulated by the city's laws, and equally important how this normative framework could manipulated and sometimes even subverted by members of the community. The module will also offer an introduction to classical Athenian rhetoric, and the seminars will focus on the rhetorical strategies adopted by Athenian litigants in a wide variety of contexts. A broad range of Athenian lawcourt speeches in translation will be complemented by the study of texts (also in translation) by Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes.

Elementary Greek Palaeography

In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe texts from facsimiles of Greek manuscripts from the Byzantine period. You will examine different styles of text, considering the layout and script, and learn how to date Greek manuscripts and place them in the cultural milieu in which they were produced.

Greek Palaeography

In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe texts from facisimiles of Greek papyri and manuscripts. You will look at the developments between the third century BC and the ninth century AD, including the transition from roll to codex form. You will consider the developments of the Byzantine minuscule up to the 15th century, including the production of the first fonts for printed Greek. You will examine the transmission of classical literature and the cultural history of both classical antiquity and the Byzantine era.

Greek Hands of the Palaeologan Period - 13th to 15th Century

In thid module you will develop an understanding of the political and cultural changes as reflected in the various hands and styles of the Palaeologan period. You will look at changes in the Byzantine Empire following the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 and the recapture of the City by Michael VIII Palaeologus in 1261 until its fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, examining how these are reflected in the various Greek literary, documentary and scholarly hands. You will consider the theological dialogue between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians that culminated in the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1439) as attested in Greek manuscripts, and analyse the role of Greek scholars and scribes in Byzantium and Western Europe in the translation of Latin texts and the transmission of classical Greek texts during the Renaissance.

Byzantine Autographs of the Palaeologan Period - 13th to 15th century

In this module you will develop an understanding of how Byzantine autograph manuscripts of distinguished Byzantine scholars and teachers provide evidence for the use of both calligraphic and personal scripts. You will examine the surviving Byzantine autographs dated between the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 and the fall of the City to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and consider the political and cultural changes in the Byzantine Empire in this period as reflected in various literary, documentary and scholarly hands. You will also look at the transmission of classical Greek texts to the West and the Byzantine interest in Latin literature and theology, including the role of Byzantine scholars as translators. 

Byzantium and The First Crusade

In this module you will develop an understanding of the response of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire to the First Crusade and to the establishment of the Latin East. You will look at the background of the empire as it was in the middle of the eleventh century, its relations with the Latin West and the accession and reign of Alexios I Komnenos from 1081 to 1118. You will examine the lead-up to and events of the crusade considering a range of Byzantine and Western source materials in translation in order to determine how the Byzantines viewed the crusaders, including what they considered their aims to be, what policies they adopted towards them, and what mistakes were made in dealing with this unprecedented phenomenon.

Byzantium and the Fourth Crusade

In this module you will develop an understanding of the events surrounding the capture and sacking of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzanthine empire, in April 1204. Starting in 1180, you will look at events in context of relations between the Byzantines and previous crusades and assess how key developments such as the usurpation of Andronicus I, the Third Crusade, and the empire’s internal weakness contributed to its ultimate downfall. You will examine the events of 1198 to 1204, considering accounts left by contemporaries and eyewitnesses (both Byzantine and Western) and why an expedition that set out with the intention of recovering Jerusalem from Islam ended up pillaging the greatest city in the Christian world. 

Homer (in Greek)

Greek Lyric Poetry

Four Greek Plays

Attacking the theatre

Defending the theatre

The Ancient Novel (in translation)

Dialogues of Plato

Sources and Methods in Ancient History

Territory and Identity in Ancient Greece

The Aegean from the First Farmers to Minoan States

The Late Bronze Age Aegean

The Economic and Social History of Archaic and Classical Greece

Greek Religion in a Mediterranean Society

Studying Ancient Myth


City of Rome

The City of Rome (British School at Rome Annual Postgraduate Course)

Greek pottery and painting

Ancient mosaics: making and meaning

Living in Byzantium: Material culture and built environment (ca. AD 300-1500)

Alexander's Afterlife

Ancient Greek Theatre and its Reception

Approaches to the Reception of the Classical World

Greeks & Jews

The reign of Constantine I

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

Entry criteria:

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

Research experience will also be considered.

  • This course attracts students from a wide range of different disciplines including classics, history, theology, philosophy, literature, law, education, museum studies and palaeography.
  • Interviews are usually offered to applicants and in some cases a writing sample is required in the form of an essay. Applicants who are unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

English language requirements:

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

If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor you study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

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:

  • An interview and sample essay may be required if we would like more information upon which to base a decision. Applicants unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

The MA in Hellenic Studies at Royal Holloway enables students to develop strong presentation and negation skills, along with analytical and research skills, which makes them highly employable and can lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and cultural.  A considerable number of graduates continue research on a doctoral level in the field of Greek History and Culture at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway and at other universities in Britain and abroad.

Our Careers team will work with you to enhance your employability and prepare you for the choices ahead. Their support doesn’t end when you graduate; you can access the service for up to two years after graduation.

  • Recent graduates have entered many different areas, including careers as researchers, museum staff and teachers in secondary education.

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

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

Other essential costs**: The compulsory Language courses and many optional courses courses are taught in Central London, and therefore if you are resident on the Egham Campus you will need to travel once or twice a week to London to attend these classes. Each Egham resident will be reimbursed a maximum of £130 towards these travel expenses (Southwest Trains Travelcard). There are no other single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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