The MA in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies enables students to specialise in an exciting and multi-faceted field of study that covers the history and culture of the Mediterranean world during the long millennium from the foundation of Constantinople in 324 to the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453. Taking this MA at Royal Holloway is ideal if you are interested in progressing to doctoral research in Byzantine studies, particularly in reading and editing Byzantine texts from manuscripts. It can also lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and cultural sectors.
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 areas of teaching and research in which Royal Holloway has long excelled: the study of the language, literature and history of Ancient Greece and Byzantine Studies. The Institute 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.
There is an extraordinarily wide choice of courses available, drawing on the resources of the whole of the University of London including a range of modules in research skills (ancient languages, palaeography, epigraphy, papyrology) and those that will develop your critical and conceptual understanding of the field through a variety of disciplines (history, literature, material culture, philosophy).
You will take one from the following:
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.
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.
In this module you will be given specific training in the reading of medieval documents. You will look at simple texts in classical Latin and learn how to parse all five declensions and indicative verbs. You will examine a range of documents in basic medieval Latin such as wills, deeds and accounts and translate two medieval passages plus an unseen passage.
In this module you will further enhance your linguistic training in Latin. You will develop comprehensive grammatical knowledge including all declensions of nouns and moods of verbs, with specific training in a range of documents in medieval Latin, including wills, deeds, and chronicles. You will carry out a series of translations of medieval material.
You will take one from the following:
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to interpret Latin inscriptions of all types, ranging from electronic resources to traditional printed corpora. You will look at the production of epigraphic material from the point of view of those commissioning it, the individual craftsman, and the development and the decline of ‘epigraphic habit’. You will analyse texts in the broader context of the artefacts, monuments or buildings to which they were attached, and learn how to measure and record inscriptions. You will also examine how to read and interpret epigraphic texts and prepare them for publication. You will consider a wide variety of inscriptions, including official, public, private and graffiti, from Rome, Italy and the provinces, and make use of epigraphic material held in various collections in central London.
- Greek Papyrology
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe texts from facsimiles of Greek manuscripts from the Byzantine period. You will examine different styles of text, considering the layout and script, and learn how to date Greek manuscripts and place them in the cultural milieu in which they were produced.
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.
Alternatively, you may take two from the following:
- Introduction to Greek Epigraphy
- Cities of God: Making the Late Antique City
- Living in Byzantium I: Material Culture and Built Environment in Late Antiquity
- Living in Byzantium II: Material culture and built environment in the Middle Ages
In this module you will develop an understanding of the history and material culture of Cyprus between the end of Antiquity and the dawn of the Modern era. You will look at a Byzantine province, considering its fate in the 'dark age' and medieval period, and how it may be viewed as a prime example of western expansion into the eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the Crusades and later in the context of Venice's commercial empire. You will also examine the centrality of Byzantine culture, the introduction of Gothic architecture, the genesis of Crusader art, and the impact of the Renaissance.
You will also take:
- Methods and Techniques for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies
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.
- Philosophy under the Roman Empire
- Medieval Philosophy
- Codes and Practice: the World of Roman Law from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages
- Identity and Power in Medieval Europe, AD 500-1300
- Language and Power in the later Roman Empire
- Ancient Political Thought and its Medieval Legacy
- The Late Roman and Early Byzantine City
- Cities of God: Making the Late Antique City
- Constantinople and its Descriptions
- Byzantine Egypt
- Medieval Cyprus: Art and Architecture
- Greeks and Jews
- Living in Byzantium I: Material culture & built environment in Late Antiquity
- Living in Byzantium II: Material culture and built environment in Late Antiquity
- The Christianisation of the Roman World: from Constantine to Justinian
- The Reign of Constantine I
- Byzantium and the West, AD 800-1000
- Byzantium and the First Crusade
- Byzantium and the Fourth Crusade
- One God, One Sea: Byzantium and Islam, 600-800
- Cyprus from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance
- Gender from Antiquity to Byzantium
- The Greek Novel and Its Influence (1st to 21st Centuries)
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, written examinations and a dissertation.
Relevant research experience will also be considered
- 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.
- Interviews are usually offered to applicants and in some cases an essay sample is required. 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 a high 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 Late Antique and Byzantine 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 cultural. The majority of graduates, however continue research on a doctoral level in the field of Byzantine Literature and History, and Greek Palaeography at Royal Holloway and at other universities in Britain and abroad.
- Recent graduates 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 Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, 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.
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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7700
International students tuition fee per year**: £16400
Other essential costs***: You should be aware that the core language and many optional modules are taught at Bedford Square in London and other London Colleges (King's College London, UCL and Birkbeck), and therefore you will need to travel two or more times a week to the Capital to attend these classes. A maximum annual sum of £130 will be reimbursed to you towards your travelling expenses (South Western Railway Travelcard) for this purpose by the Department if your are an student residing in Egham.
* 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.
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.