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, journalism, finance, politics 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 Modern Greek State and the modern world.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the Hellenic tradition as it developed over the centuries, from Homer and Classical Antiquity, through the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world of Late Antiquity, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period, to the modern world. You will examine Hellenic ideas and ideals as expressed in philosophy and literature, law and religion, art and architecture. You will look Greek paideia, considering the ways in which different generations have interpreted Greek culture, and analyse different levels of historical and literary interpretation of the Greeks and their relevance.
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:
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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe texts from facsimiles 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.
In this 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.
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.
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 course 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.
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*: £7,900
International students tuition fee per year**: £16,800
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.
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see our terms and conditions.
Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home/EU tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
*** 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.