If you are seeking to further your undergraduate qualification, conducting research into or wanting to specialise in the history of the ancient Greek, Roman and Near Eastern worlds, then this programme offers you the perfect opportunity to do just that. Covering the historical period from Classical Athens to Christian Byzantium, we offer courses which allow you to examine many aspects of the Ancient History of Greece, Rome and the Near East. Our Ancient History MA also provides postgraduates with the ideal foundation for conducting further research at doctoral level.
Organised on an intercollegiate basis, this course is jointly run with King’s College London and University College London to enable you to take full advantage of the teaching expertise of all three participating colleges. This tri-collegiate approach offers up an unparalleled range of modules to study: postgraduate units cover Greek and Latin literature and ancient philosophy, as well as key technical skills such as papyrology, epigraphy, and palaeography.
Our Classics department has an excellent track record in producing publications that advance the understanding of the ancient world. A thriving and internationally recognised centre of excellence in research and teaching, the department is home to two College Research Centres - Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome (CRGR) and the Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric (COR). Research in the department covers the whole range of Classical Studies, from Homeric Greece to the very end of the Roman Empire with particular interests in language, literature, history, ancient philosophy as well as Greek and Roman archaeology.
In teaching Ancient History, we are particularly well equipped to supervise dissertations on: the history of Greek law, Athenian political and social history, the Roman army, ancient shipping and shipsheds, ancient urbanism, the economic, political and social history of Rome and both Greek and Latin.
A global leader in Masters provision, Royal Holloway gives you the opportunity to take part in one of the most extensive programmes of research seminars and training programmes offered by any institution. During your time with us you will be under the careful supervision of our academic staff with access to not only the Royal Holloway library but also the word-class resources of: the Institute of Classical Studies, the Warburg Institute, the British Library, Senate House Library, and other specialised libraries in the School of Advanced Study.
Sources And Methods In Ancient History
This module will introduce you to the disciplines, methodologies, and problems that may be encountered when engaging in research in the area of Ancient History. You will cover a range of topics from epigraphy and papyrology to general issues of method in ancient history. You will become equipped with the knowledge, skills, and bibliography that will enable you to develop a research project and pursue it successfully.
You will produce an extended piece of original work of between 10,000 and 12,000 words in the field of Ancient History. You will choose a topic in consultation with staff members with appropriate expertise, and be assigned a supervisor. You will develop your skills in employing relevant research methodologies at an advanced level, engaging with existing scholarship to situate your project within context of current debate.
Research Training in Classics
You will attend a series of training seminars in the autumn where you will become familiar with the range of sources available, and methods required, for the advanced study of Classical languages, literature and thought. You will learn how to conduct independent research, and how to present your findings clearly and coherently.
Understanding Pompeii and Herculaneum
This module provides you with the opportunity to engage in an-depth study of the material remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum (and the villas at Stabiae, Oplontis and Boscoreale) and assess their special value – but also their limitations – as primary sources for archaeologists and cultural historians. You will analuse general issues of preservation, excavation, chronology, and presentation of the sites to the public as well as a range of topics relating to the specific types of evidence for which the Vesuvian sites are renowned.
City of Athens
The urban centre of ancient Athens was a modest town from antiquity until the nineteenth century when it became the capital of the newly independent state. The city has grown phenomenally over the last two centuries and the preservation of the archaeological remains is varied. The course will combine classroom teaching with an excursion to Athens where the relationship between the modern city and the primary material at the archaeological parks and museums can be studied at first hand. The lectures and seminars will provide a methodological and chronological framework for studying the material remains of the ancient city. Several themes will run through the course and they include, for example, the following: How are the religious and burial customs reflected in the archaeological record of Athens? What types of manifestations did the administration and politics of the polis have in architecture? How did the city prepare for war? What was the urban environment like?
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.
- Homer’s Iliad
The module will introduce MA students to Homer's Odyssey. Student will prepare assigned sections for class, which will be discussed in class along with general introductions to critical topics in the study of Homer. These topics include relatively technical, philological issues as well as aspects of higher criticism, including literary, philosophical and anthropological approaches and discussions of general critical theory pertinent to the study of the Odyssey. By the end of this module, you will have: read significant sections from selected books of Homer's Odyssey in the original Greek and have a good grasp of the Odyssey as a text; developed your understanding of a broad range of philological issues associated with the text (dialect, metre, grammar, style, formulaic construction, etc.); a good grasp of key critical issues in the study of Homer and the Odyssey; a good grasp of general critical method in literary criticism, philosophy, anthropology, the study of oral traditions, etc., as these pertain to the study of Homer; improved written and oral presentation skills; improved ability to synthesize source materials and present an original scholarly argument and a stronger, more creative critical stance.
Advanced Latin A
This module consists of study of one set text in Latin, in either prose or verse, to be selected annually. The focus will be on translation, context and understanding of grammar in this text. You will also work on an independent project related to their own area of research expertise in order to refine their understanding of the issues posed by translation and interpretation in this area.
Advanced Latin B
The module will consist of study of one set text in Latin, in either prose or verse, to be selected annually. The focus will be on translation, context and understanding of grammar in this text. You will also work on an independent project related to their own area of research expertise in order to demonstrate why the Latin of a selected passage is worth examination, how discussion of it has influenced scholarship, and how direct engagement with the Latin enhances their own research.
- Places, Artifacts and Images, Digital Approaches
- Digital Classics: Linking Written and Material Culture
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.
- Tacitus and Nero
- Latin Epigraphy
- Medieval Latin Literature
- Skills for Medievalists: Palaeography
- Introduction to Greek Epigraphy
- Alexandria and the Poetry of Callimachus
- Archaic and Classical Painting
- One God, One Sea: Byzantium and Islam, 600-800
- Classical Frontiers: Northern Black Sea in Antiquity
- Science and Empire
- Late Antique Magic
- Roman Mosaics: Making and Meaning
- Living in Byzantium I: Material Culture and Built Environment in Late Antiquity
- Exhibiting Classical Antiquities
- Alexander's Afterlife
- Queer Connections: Male-Male Desire and the Classical Past
- Ancient Rome on Film: From Pre-Cinema to the 1950s
- Cicero: Rhetoric and Politics
- Ancient Philosophy and Literature
- Greek Papyrology
- Lived Ancient Religion in Hellenistic Greece
- Hellenistic Encounters with Egypt
- Change and Continuity in the Ancient Near East
- The Mediterranean World in the Iron Age
- Ancient Italy in the Mediterranean
- Making and Meaning in Ancient Greek Art
- Making and Meaning in Ancient Roman Art
- The Transformation of the Roman Mediterranean
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.
Successful applicants will usually have the following qualities:
- A broad appreciation of the civilizations and historical framework of the ancient world
- A keen interest in primary sources and the different interpretations that have been put on them
- The ability to synthesise judgements from multiple viewpoints.
Candidates with relevant professional qualifications and work experience in an associated area will also be considered.
English language requirements
We accept the following internationally-recognised English language qualifications:
- Pearson Test of English
- Cambridge ESOL
Your future career
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 courses, 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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7200
International students tuition fee per year**: £13200
Other essential costs***: None, but should you decide to take modules which are delivered in Central London then travel may be required
* and ** 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.