Skip to main content

Late Antique and Byzantine Studies

Late Antique and Byzantine Studies

MA
Apply now

The deadline to apply for this course is 1 June 2023. Find out more

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £8,600

International/EU fees**: £18,200

The course

Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA)

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, international relations, politics, diplomacy, finance, and museum, libraries 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, philosophy, material culture).

For studentships, bursaries and prizes relating to this course, please visit the Hellenic Institute page.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience, and this is particularly the case as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Core Modules

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.

  • The module is in two parts. The first term is exploratory: you will read selected texts from the whole medieval period - from late antiquity to the high Middle Ages - in a variety of genres (theology, poetry, history, law, etc.) In the second term you will learn how to edit a medieval Latin text.

  • This module attracts students from many disciplines, including Classics, Ancient History, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Theology and English. You do not need to have any previous experience of learning Latin, although it may be useful to have some knowledge of a modern language. In addition, a basic knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology will be useful in your preparation for the tests and exam.

  • This module continues the study of the Latin language for those students who have completed Beginner’s Latin or an equivalent course (e.g., GCSE Latin). The course will cover grammatical constructions and aims to prepare you to confidently translate and understand literary Latin texts in both prose and verse. You will practise Latin grammar through translation exercises both from Latin into English and from English into Latin, and will undertake a close reading of selected portions of an unadapted literary text, the second book of Virgil’s Aeneid.

You will take one from the following:

  • In this module you will be introduced to the study of Greek papyri, documentary as well as literary. The texts are studied from facsimiles and are chosen to illustrate the development of Greek bookhands and cursive scripts. You will also learn to examine formal aspects of the transmission of Greek literature on papyrus, and familiarise yourself with the range of documentary types available as sources for the history of Graeco-Roman Egypt.

  • 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 aim of this module is to train you to read, date and describe Latin manuscripts from AD 500 - 1500 and to understand manuscript culture and the circumstances in which texts were transmitted from the Middle Ages to modern times. It consists of a survey of the history of Latin handwriting from antiquity to the Renaissance. You will also be taught how to describe a manuscript book and will be introduced to codicology.

  • 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.

You will also take:

  • 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.

  • This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.

     

Optional Modules

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.

  • 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 traces the response of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire to the First Crusade, which passed through their territory in 1096-7. It places the crusade in the context of previous Byzantine interaction with the Latin West, especially attempts by the emperors to secure military help both before and during the reign of Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118). The events of the First Crusade - its preaching by Urban II in 1095, its arrival at Constantinople in 1096-7, its progress through Byzantine territory to Antioch, the ‘third wave’ of 1101 – will all be discussed in this context through a range of Byzantine and Western source material in translation. Among the issues discussed will be the role of Alexios I in the preaching and launching of the crusade, the nature of the oaths sworn in Constantinople in 1097, the importance of the schism between the Byzantine and western Churches and the origin of the hostility between Bohemond and Alexios I.

  • This module takes a long-term view of the crusade which captured and sacked Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine empire, in April 1204. Starting in around 1192, it places events in the context of relations between the Byzantines and previous crusades, of the internal situation of the empire and of the position in the Latin east in the aftermath of the Third Crusade. It then examines how the Fourth Crusade was preached and planned, how it was diverted first to Zara and then to Constantinople, and how it came to attack and pillage the city.  Translations of accounts left by contemporaries and eyewitnesses (both Byzantine and Western) will be studied in detail and subjected to critical analysis.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, written examinations and a dissertation.

2:2

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 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent in history or a related subject in the Humanities or Social Sciences. Candidates with professional qualifications or relevant professional or research experience in an associated area will also be considered.

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.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.

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, international relations, politics, diplomacy, finance, and museum, libraries and cultural sectors. 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, diplomats, 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, Cambridge, Jena, 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.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £8,600

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £18,200

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 you are an student residing in Egham.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* 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 course 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, please see our terms and conditions. Please note that for research courses, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home 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.

** The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us during the academic year 2023/24, we will award a fee reduction scholarship equivalent to 30% of the difference between the UK and international fee for your course. This will apply for the duration of your course. Find out more

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2022/23 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

Royal Holloway is a research intensive university and our academics collaborate across disciplines to achieve excellence.

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today