We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > History home > Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA)
More in this section History

Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA)

Back to course search results

Course overview

Byzantine Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London have a long tradition. It was Professor Joan M. Hussey who first introduced and devised the study of Byzantine History in the University of London in 1950; throughout her long academic career she instilled ‘the principles of scholarship and demonstrated the perfect balance between historical detail and the wider implication of the subject’.

Her legacy was continued by Julian Chrysostomides, who taught the next generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and in 1987, together with Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith and Dr Athanasios Angelou, established the taught MA degree course in Byzantine Studies at Royal Holloway. This programme centred on the middle and later period of Byzantine history, placing particular emphasis on Byzantine sources and Greek Palaeography. This initiative was joined by King’s College London (KCL) under Professor Averil Cameron and Professor Charlotte Roueché, whose interests centred in Late Antiquity and early Byzantium; thus, the University of London federal MA course in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA LABS) took its original form.

Since October 2009 the MA LABS has been offered as part of the intercollegiate arrangements among Royal Holloway, King's College London and University College London (UCL). In choosing where to register, students should note that they will normally be expected to undertake their MA dissertation at their home College; they should therefore aim to register at the College where staff interests are closest to their own. The MA LABS at Royal Holloway is taught by members of staff of the Hellenic Institute, a research centre for the diachronic and interdisciplinary study of Hellenism, based in the History Department.

Since its establishment a large number of students have successfully pursued this MA course, the majority of whom continued their research on a doctoral level. Today graduates of the programme hold research and teaching posts in universities in Britain and abroad, testifying to its success in meeting its aims.

Key facts

Key facts about the course
Qualification Master of Arts
Duration 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
Department and Faculty History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Partner institution(s) King's College London, University College London
Course director Dr Charalambos Dendrinos
+44(0)1784 443791
Contact for more information Mrs Marie-Christine Ockenden
Graduate and Research Administrator
+44(0)1784 443311

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online.

Further information on making an application, including the documentation that you will need to submit with the application is available in the How to apply section of this site.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.


Entry requirements

Entry criteria:

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

Research experience will also be considered.

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

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.

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 requirements:

  • Interviews are usually offered to applicants and in some cases a sample of essays is required. Applicants who are unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

Why choose this course?

  • The Hellenic Institute, established in 1993, brings together two areas of teaching and research in which Royal Holloway has long excelled: the study of the language, literature and history of Ancient Greece, based largely in the Department of Classics and Philosophy, but also in the Department of Drama and Theatre; and Byzantine Studies, which have always found a home in the Department of History. It aims to consolidate existing strengths and to extend them by promoting the study of the Hellenic tradition across the centuries from archaic and classical Greece, through the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period, to the modern world.
  • We collaborate closely with other Colleges and research centres in the University of London, including the Institute of Classical Studies, the Institute of Historical Research and the Warburg Institute, as well as the British Library, Lambeth Palace Library and The Hellenic Centre, a cultural meeting place for the Greek community in London.
  • We maintain links with universities overseas, especially in Greece and Cyprus. Scholars from the Universities of Athens, Ioannina and Cyprus regularly visit the Institute as part of collaborative research, offering their expertise to our students and members of staff.
  • The Institute organises a range of lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops and other events for students, scholars and the wider public, giving the opportunity to engage with experts in the field.
  • We receive funding in support of our activities from the Ministries of Culture and Education of the Hellenic Republic, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus, the A.G. Leventis Foundation, the Hellenic Foundation, the Orthodox Cultural Association (Athens), The Friends of the Hellenic Institute and private donors.
  • The Institute offers a number of annual fees-only studentships, bursaries and other awards in support of its students.

Department research and industry highlights

Collaborative research includes:

  • Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus
  • Seminar on Editing Byzantine Texts
  • Byzantine Autographs
  • A Catalogue of the Greek Manuscript Collection of Lambeth Palace Library
  • The Porphyrogenitus Project: Lexicon of Abbreviations and Ligatures in Greek
  • Minuscule Hands, c.800-c.1600
  • Lexicon of Terms used in Palaeography, Codicology and Diplomatics
  • Triadic Monarchy: The Concept of Monarchy in the Triadology of the Greek Fathers -
  • Ecclesiological Repercussions and the Monastic Model
  • The Greek Population of Rhodes under Hospitaller Rule
  • The Greek Community in London, 1500-1945.

Course content and structure

The course consists of three core course units, one elective unit and a dissertation.

Core course units:

Greek Language
You will take one of the compulsory Greek language course units depending on your level of Greek at entry: 

  • Beginners’ ancient Greek for research
  • Intermediate ancient Greek for research
  • Byzantine Greek II

Introduction to Byzantium Seminar
This is a two-hour topics seminar in the first seven weeks of the first semester, where a variety of experts provide an introduction to their own subject. In early June, the Seminar is reconvened, and students are expected to make their own presentations of their MA dissertation topics. There is no assessed work.

You will also take one of the following two core units:

Elementary Greek Palaeography
This is an introductory course in Greek Palaeography addressed to students with either little or no knowledge of Greek.

Greek Palaeography
This is suitable for students with good knowledge of classical Greek and aims to introduce the study of the Greek book and script from the Hellenistic period to the fifteenth century AD.

This is a major piece of writing of 10,500-12,000 words on an approved subject, under the supervision of a member of the staff.

Elective course units:

You will take one of the following units:

  • Identity and Power in the Middle Ages, AD 500-1300
  • Greeks & Jews
  • Living in Byzantium: Material culture and built environment (ca. AD 300-1500)
  • The Reign of Constantine I
  • Byzantium and the West, AD 800-1054
  • Byzantium and the First Crusade (0.5 unit)
  • Byzantium and the Fourth Crusade (0.5 unit)
  • The Medieval Papacy
  • Greek Papyrology
  • Medieval Manuscripts and Documents
  • Places of Learning in the Medieval West 


On completion of the course graduates will have:

  • a detailed knowledge and understanding of the methodologies of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, and their limitations
  • an understanding of advanced, current research issues relevant to the discipline
  • an awareness of the multiplicity of material available and the strengths and weaknesses of the various forms of historical information
  • a general appreciation of the varied and interlinked methodologies for understanding antiquity and the medieval age
  • the reading and understanding of ancient and medieval texts, both in print and in manuscript
  • a grasp of literary criticism necessary for understanding and appreciating the style of ancient and medieval authors
  • an awareness of the main forms of material available to those studying classical antiquity and the Byzantine world.


View the full course specification for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA) in the Programme Specification Repository


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

Employability & career opportunities

Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, 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 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.

The majority of our graduates pursue MPhil/PhD studies in the field of Byzantine Literature and History, and Greek Palaeography at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway and at other universities in Britain and abroad.


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback