The MA in History: 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 disciplines and ideal if you are interested in progressing to doctoral research in Greek History and Culture. It can also lead to careers in education, diplomacy, politics, finance, journalism, publishing, museum and gallery management, 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 Greek State and the modern world, including the Greek and Cypriot diaspora.
We offer a wide range of postgraduate scholarships to help with funding your studies. We especially encourage eligible applicants to apply for one of the following:
Brian Harris scholarship – full tuition fee reduction plus £14,800 research, living and travel costs for UK students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree.
Dinah and Jessica Nichols scholarship – £12,000 scholarship for Home/EU or international students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree or equivalent.
Herringham scholarship – tuition fee reduction of £7,700 for Home/EU or international students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree or equivalent.
MA History : Hellenic Studies part-time and full-time students are eligible also for the following Hellenic Institute Bursaries and Prize towards support and research expenses:
- George of Cyprus Bursaries established thanks to a generous grant awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus, in honour of George of Cyprus, later Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (under the name Gregory II, 1283-9).
- The Julian Chrysostomides Memorial Bursaries in Hellenic and Byzantine Studies established in memory of the distinguished Byzantinist Julian Chrysostomides (1928-2008), former Director of the Hellenic Institute at Royal Holloway.
- The Pat Macklin Memorial Bursaries in Hellenic and Byzantine Studies established in memory of Pat Macklin (1915-2009), former student and Friend of the Hellenic Institute at Royal Holloway.
- The Konstantinos Kokonouzis Memorial Bursaries in Hellenic and Byzantine Studies (offered only to self-supported students), established thanks to an annual donation by Mr Yiannis Chronopoulos, graduate and Friend of the Hellenic Institute, in memory of his cousin Konstantinos Kokonouzis (1974-1997), who served as Second Lieutenant (Engineer) in the Hellenic Air Force.
- The John Penrose Barron Prize in Hellenic Studies (£200) awarded to students who complete the MA History: Hellenic Studies at the Hellenic Institute with the mark of distinction. Established in memory of the eminent Hellenist Professor J.P. Barron (1934-2008).
This module looks at history from the point of view of its practitioners. It approaches historians as academic researchers but also as social actors and cultural brokers both in dialogue with the past, but also part of the societies they inhabit. The module centres around a set of key questions that drive historical research as well as historiographical debate today. How do historians think and write about the past? Do they have a role to play in our globalized and very much present-minded world? And how has "history" become part of contemporary debates on identity politics, post-truth and the digital divide? To answer these questions, the module critically interrogates history’s ambivalent position between art and social science and asks how historical concepts and historical research practices intersect with methods of communicating the past to an academic and wider audience.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the range, scope and access to physical and digital archives, museums and resources. You will learn how to evaluate and interpret documents, recordings and artefacts; how to construct a convincing historical narrative; and how to effectively communicate your findings in print, oral and digital formats. You will interpret a variety of evidence including manuscript and printed texts, oral testimony, film and photography, and material objects, as well as look at some key interpretative methods such as oral and digital history. You will learn from members of staff who are experts in their fields and from visiting speakers who are specialists and practitioners, examining a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to historical interpretation and its communication to academic and public audiences.
You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervisor, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
Optional modules may include:
In this module you will develop an understanding of a broad range of philological issues associated with selected books of Homer's Iliad. You will read significant sections from selected books in the original Greek and examine key issues such as literary criticism, philosophy, anthropology and the study of oral traditions pertaining to the Iliad.
In this module you will develop an understanding of a broad range of philological issues associated with selected books of Homer's Odyssey. You will read significant sections from selected books in the original Greek and examine aspects of higher criticism, including literary, philosophical and anthropological approaches and discussions of general critical theory pertinent to the study of the Odyssey.
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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe and study texts from facsimiles (reproductions) of Greek manuscripts dated or datable between the 9th and 12th centuries. Throughout the year you will be introduced to a variety of texts, ranging from biblical, theological and hagiographical to classical, literary and scientific. You will learn how to decipher abbreviations, ligatures and cryptogrammes, how to identify different styles and scribal hands, how to trace and date Greek manuscripts, placing them in the Byzantine cultural milieu in which, and for which, they were produced.
Coursework focusses on transcribing texts and producing commentaries on the layout and the script. During the second term you will be invited to our annual visit Lambeth Palace Library to examine original Greek manuscripts and to attend the University of London Postgraduate Working Seminar on Editing Byzantine Texts, where you will learn through practice to edit, translate and annotate a Greek text from manuscripts.
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?
In this half-unit 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.
This module traces the sequence of events that culminated in the sack of Constantinople by the army of the Fourth Crusade in April 1204, placing them in the context of relations between the Byzantines and previous crusades. Translations of accounts left by contemporaries and eyewitnesses (both Byzantine and Western) will be studied in detail as we try to discover why an expedition that set out with the intention of recovering Jerusalem from Islam ended up capturing and pillaging the greatest city in the Christian world.
This module provides an introduction to the varied physical remains left behind by Late Antiquity, primarily in the eastern Mediterranean (4th to 7th century). The selection of material and issues examined range from the urban and rural landscapes, fortifications, palaces, houses, monasteries and churches, to monumental decoration and small scale objects. This wide range of topics will be investigated thematically from a primarily functional and practical point of view, in order to trace and highlight the significant changes that occurred in this period, signalling different stages in the transformation of the Roman heritage. Each subject will be approached on the basis of case studies that exemplify the nature and problems of the evidence.
This module offers a conceptual approach to Christian, Jewish and Muslim diasporas, refugees and minorities in the imperial and post-imperial lands of East Central Europe and the Mediterranean during the 19th and 20th centuries. It maps the complex transformation of diasporic populations living side-by-side in the cosmopolitan cities of the Ottoman, Habsburg and Russian Empires into refugees and minorities in the successor nation-states of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Russia, and Poland and considers their enduring legacy in Europe and beyond.
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, written examinations and a dissertation.
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.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects but we will consider high a 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘high 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.
A piece of written work may be required from applicants who do not meet the standard academic requirements.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
The MA in History: Hellenic Studies at Royal Holloway enables students to develop strong presentation skills, along with analytical and research skills, which makes them highly employable and can lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and culture. 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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £8,100
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,200
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.