MA Antiquity: Byzantine Studies pathway

The Antiquity MA: Byzantine Studies pathway allows you to study the political, cultural, social economic and literary history of the Byzantine Empire.

This programme offers an ideal opportunity to pursue your interests in greater depth and also provides an ideal foundation for further research at doctoral level. This is one of several pathways available on the Antiquity MA.

This is the degree for you if you enjoyed studying the ancient world as an undergraduate, and would now like to study Byzantine Studies in greater depth and at a higher level; or if you want to explore this aspect of antiquity and it wasn’t included in your first degree.

It allows you to specialise, but also encourages you to branch out into related disciplines and to consider interdisciplinary approaches.

You will choose two core language modules, at least one which should be Greek, from a range of which includes:

  • Beginners Greek
  • Beginners Latin
  • Advanced Greek
  • Advanced Latin
  • Modern Languages

You will also study a third core module in Research and Scholarship.

You will also choose three optional modules, at least two of which should relate to Byzantine Studies. Options available may include:

  • Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture
  • Byzantine Art and Architecture
  • Coins and Economy in the Byzantine World

Full module descriptions are available below.

You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one expert supervision. 

Why study this course

  1. Research strengths - the Byzantine Empire was a fascinatingly rich and diverse cultural world, cutting across familiar ideas of divisions between East and West, and ancient and medieval. The University of Birmingham has a long-established record as one of the world’s leading centres for the study of this field.
  2. Flexibility - with such a range of expertise available, you will be supported to explore your specific interests, particularly through the dissertation.
  3. Exceptional learning resources – you will have access to a range of learning resources including environmental and material culture teaching collections; the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Museum, the Eton Myers Collection at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts; and the Danford Collection of African art and artefacts.
  4. Taught by experts - you will study alongside some of the finest minds at Birmingham. Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five Russell Group departments of Classics in the Research Excellence Framework.
  5. Be a part of an exciting department – you will join a lively postgraduate community with many opportunities to enhance your learning from events, research seminars and conferences.


You will study two core language modules, at least one of which should be Greek, from a range which includes:

Beginners’ Greek or Latin

These modules provide an intensive introduction to Greek or Latin. They aim to provide you with the basic linguistic skills needed to acquire a reading knowledge of Greek or Latin for the purposes of research.

Advanced Greek or Latin           

These modules consolidate linguistic skills to enable you to work independently on Greek or Latin texts in the original language, building upon existing knowledge. They develop analytical and critical skills by means of advanced grammar and reading classes focusing in detail on a text or texts. Texts chosen will generally reflect the interests of students in the group.

Modern Languages modules are also available.

You will also study a third core module:

Research and Scholarship

This module ensures that students across the range of sub-disciplines in Classics and Ancient History acquire the necessary generic and specific skills needed for further research. These will include advanced bibliographic skills, familiarity with theoretical and critical approaches and schools of thought, technical skills such as techniques of epigraphy or numismatics where appropriate. Delivery will take place in seminar formats, with sub-disciplines offering different break-out sessions as needed.

You will also choose three optional modules, at least two of which should relate to the Byzantine Studies pathway. Options available may include:

Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture

This course offers a framework, partly empirical, partly conceptual, whereby to engage with the problems of investigating and interpreting Late Roman and Byzantine archaeology. It introduces all the major types of evidence (artefactual, topographical, monumental, environmental), deploying them to test reassessments of major debates in Late Roman and Byzantine Studies. Tutorial reading develop introduction to archaeology as an intellectual practice within Late Roman and Byzantine historical enquiry, focusing upon archaeology's developing contributions to economic, cultural and politico-administrative history, and evaluation of best practice in excavation, survey, recording and publication.

Byzantine Art and Architecture

This course ensures a thorough grounding in the monuments of Byzantium, and an understanding of the methodological issues and problems confronting modern scholars. Lectures provide a chronological survey of the monuments (architecture, architectural decoration, sculpture, and painting including icons and book illumination) from the foundation of Constantinople in 324 until Iconoclasm (730-843), with an emphasis on the interpretation of the monuments in their historical context. Seminars are devoted to research skills in particular areas of their discipline.

Coins and Economy in the Byzantine World

The study of Byzantine coins is primarily the study of the movement of people, commodities and ideas within and outside the borders of the Byzantine commonwealth. By placing coins in their geographical, historical and archaeological background, students could trace the commercial, and military land- and sea-routes, the extent of the monetary sector in the cities and the countryside, the political and cultural interchange between areas, and the circulation of various mint issues in Eastern and Western Medieval Europe. During the first semester, the course aims to discuss the history and development of the Byzantine coinage and economic history from the currency reform of Anastasius (AD498) to the early Macedonian dynasty (AD 867-969).

Related staff

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £6,570 full-time; £3,285 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

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Making your application

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When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

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The research modules will train you to a professional level in bibliographic research, project development, information management and retrieval, oral presentation, active listening, and a range of subject-specific skills tailored to this pathway.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

Graduates with a postgraduate degree in Antiquity can boast a wide combination of skills that can be applied in many types of work and which employers regard very positively. That’s why historically, over 91% of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology postgraduates have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

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