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.
- Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric
- Independent Project on Rhetoric 1
- Independent Project on Rhetoric 2
The topic of the dissertation to be decided in consultation with the Programme Director. Any topic within the broad field of rhetorical studies may be considered. Possible fields of enquiry include the following: Greek and / or Roman rhetoric; Greek and / or Roman oratory (including delivery); the history of rhetorical theory; practice and education in classical antiquity or in later periods, including non-European cultures; the influence of Greek and Roman oratory in later times, including political speeches, sermons, modern-day court practice and advocacy; the application of logical and rhetorical analysis to ancient and modern texts and oratorical performances; the role of rhetoric and oratory in political decision-making, ancient and modern. As an alternative to the conventional format of a dissertation or extended essay, the dissertation may take the form of a discursive commentary on a rhetorical or oratorical text.
Optional ModulesYou will choose one from the following:
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
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.
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
- 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.
Relevant experience in any profession involving communication such as law, politics or the media would be seen as an advantage.
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
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 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).
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7200
International students tuition fee per year**: £14900
Other essential costs***: None, but should you decide to take modules which are delivered in Central London, 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.