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Late Antique and Byzantine Studies MA

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 Late Antique and Byzantine Studies enables students to specialise in an exciting and multi-faceted field of study that covers the history and culture of the Mediterranean world during the long millennium from the foundation of Constantinople in 324 to the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453. Taking this MA at Royal Holloway is ideal if you are interested in progressing to doctoral research in Byzantine studies, particularly in reading and editing Byzantine texts from manuscripts. It can also lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and cultural sectors.

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 areas of teaching and research in which Royal Holloway has long excelled: the study of the language, literature and history of Ancient Greece and Byzantine Studies. The Institute 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. 

There is an extraordinarily wide choice of courses available, drawing on the resources of the whole of the University of London including a range of modules in research skills (ancient languages, palaeography, epigraphy, papyrology) and those that will develop your critical and conceptual understanding of the field through a variety of disciplines (history, literature, material culture, philosophy).

  • Byzantine Studies at Royal Holloway have a long tradition, the first taught MA degree course was established here.
  • To enable students to benefit from the expertise of all three University of London Colleges, this degree is now delivered through an intercollegiate arrangement. Students should register at the College where staff interests align to their own, as this is where they will undertake their dissertation.
  • Participate in a number of research projects and seminars, lectures and conferences hosted by the Hellenic Institute.
  • 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

You will take one from Beginners' Ancient Greek for Research, Intermediate Ancient Greek for Research, Introductory Latin for Medievalists or Further Latin for Medievalists.

Beginners' Ancient Greek for Research

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of Attic Greek. You will become proficient in reading unseen simple passages of Greek without assistance and gain confidence in handling Ancient Greek texts in their original form.

Intermediate Ancient Greek for Research

In this module you will further develop your understanding of the Ancient Greek language to the point where you are able to read substantial texts. You will carry out grammatical exercises, including some translation from English into Greek, as well as preparing to translate passages from Greek to English. As your confidence increases, you will increasingly focus on the translation and interpretation of texts.

Introductory Latin for Medievalists

In this module you will be given specific training in the reading of medieval documents. You will look at simple texts in classical Latin and learn how to parse all five declensions and indicative verbs. You will examine a range of documents in basic medieval Latin such as wills, deeds and accounts and translate two medieval passages plus an unseen passage.

Further Latin for Medievalists

In this module you will further enhance your linguistic training in Latin. You will develop comprehensive grammatical knowledge including all declensions of nouns and moods of verbs, with specific training in a range of documents in medieval Latin, including wills, deeds, and chronicles. You will carry out a series of translations of medieval material.

You will take one from Latin Epigraphy, Greek Papyrology, Elementary Greek Palaeography or Greek Palaegography.

Latin Epigraphy

In this module you will develop an understanding of how to interpret Latin inscriptions of all types, ranging from electronic resources to traditional printed corpora. You will look at the production of epigraphic material from the point of view of those commissioning it, the individual craftsman, and the development and the decline of ‘epigraphic habit’. You will analyse texts in the broader context of the artefacts, monuments or buildings to which they were attached, and learn how to measure and record inscriptions. You will also examine how to read and interpret epigraphic texts and prepare them for publication. You will consider a wide variety of inscriptions, including official, public, private and graffiti, from Rome, Italy and the provinces, and make use of epigraphic material held in various collections in central London.

Greek Papyrology

In this module you will develop an understanding of the Greek papyri. You will look at the development of Greek bookhands and cursive scripts, and consider formal aspects of the transmission of Greek literature on papyrus. You will also examine a range of documentary types as sources for the history of Graeco-Roman Egypt.

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.

Alternatively you may take two from Introduction to Greek Epigraphy, Cities of God - Making the Late Antique City, Living in Byzantium 1 - Material Culture and the Build Environment in Late Antiquity, Living in Byzantium 2 - Material Culture and the Build Environment in Late Antiquity, or Medieval Cyprus - Art and Architecture.

You will also take Methods and Techniques Seminar - Research Training and write a Dissertation.



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.

Philosophy under the Roman Empire

Medieval Philosophy


Codes and Practice: the World of Roman Law from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages

Identity and Power in Medieval Europe AD 500-1300

Language and Power in the later Roman Empire

Ancient Political Thought and its Medieval Legacy

The Late Roman and Early Byzantine City

Cities of God - Making th Late Antique City

Constantinople and its Descriptions

Byzantine Egypt

Medieval Cyprus - Art and Architecture

Greeks and Jews

Living in Byzantium I: Material culture & built environment in Late Antiquity (20)

Living in Byzantium II: Material culture and built environment in Late Antiquity (20)

The Christianisation of the Roman World: from Constantine to Justinian

The Reign of Constantine I

Byzantium and the West, AD 800 to 1000

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. 


One God, One Sea: Byzantium and Islam, 600-800 (20)

Cyprus from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance (20)

Gender from Late Antiquity to Byzantium

The Greek Novel and its Influence (1st to 21st Centuries)

Homer's Legacy

Medieval Papacy

Byzantine Hagiography

Sacred Tales and Pilgrimage in the Graeco-Roman World

Late Antique Magic

Places of Learning in the Medieval Latin West

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. 

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.

Relevant research experience will also be considered

  • This course is designed especially for those who are interested in progressing to doctoral research in Byzantine studies, particularly in reading and editing Byzantine texts from manuscripts. It also aims to relate Byzantine history to the wider world. We accept applications from students with different academic backgrounds, including classics, history, theology, philosophy, literature, law, education and palaeography.
  • Interviews are usually offered to applicants and in some cases an essay sample is required. 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 Late Antique and Byzantine 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. The majority of graduates, however continue research on a doctoral level in the field of Byzantine Literature and History, and Greek Palaeography at Royal Holloway and at other universities in Britain and abroad.

  • Recent graduates have entered many different areas, including careers as researchers and university lecturers, teachers in secondary education, librarians, archivists, book conservators, and editors of history journals.
  • A number of our graduates hold teaching posts and research fellowships at the Universities of London, Cyprus, Patras and the Peloponnese, the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, the Institute for Byzantine Research of the Hellenic National Research Foundation, and are employed by the Library of the Greek Parliament and the Department of Book Conservation of the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece.

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.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £7,200

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £14,900

Other essential costs**: You should be aware that the core language and many optional modules are taught at Bedford Square in London and other London Colleges (King's College London, UCL and Birkbeck), and therefore you will need to travel two or more times a week to the Capital to attend these classes. A maximum annual sum of £130 will be reimbursed to you towards your travelling expenses (South Western Railway Travelcard) for this purpose by the Department if your are an student residing in Egham. 

Other essential costs**: None, but should you decide to take modules which are delivered in Central London, travel may be required

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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