This is the degree for you if you enjoyed studying the ancient world as an undergraduate, and would now like to study Late Antiquity 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 study three core modules [full descriptions available below]:
The Late Antique City
Approaches to Images, Material Culture and Texts
You will also choose three optional modules from across all of the programme’s pathways, offering the opportunity for interdisciplinary study. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one expert supervision.
You will study three core modules:
The Late Antique City
The module will look at the development of the city and the use of civic, religious and social space in the period AD 300–700. It will cover both the western and eastern halves of the Roman empire, and use literary, visual and archaeological material to examine such issues as: the effect of Christianity on the social and religious topography of cities; the relationship between city and hinterland; the role of the city in political and social life; the relationship between emperor and the city/church and city; civic life; the city as a centre of commerce; debates on the decline of urbanisation in late antiquity.
Approaches to Images, Material Culture and Texts
This module invites you to experiment with interdisciplinary approaches. Linked to a series of research seminars by academic staff, the module is a forum in which staff and students work together to identify significant current directions in research, and to explore links, and differences, between academic disciplines.
This module will help you to develop the skills necessary for graduate level research, introduce you to the latest methods and techniques for interpreting primary sources, and demonstrate how to make critical use of scholarly works. You will learn how to define and approach interesting research questions, and develop an overview of the fields of scholarship most relevant to your pathway.
You will also choose three optional modules, from a range which typically includes:
Empire and Identity: The City in the Roman West
This module is in two parts, both linked by questions of how contact with the Roman empire changed peoples’ perceptions of themselves and how this was represented in particular through their material culture.
The first part considers the ‘Romanisation’ debate of the last hundred years, from the ‘top-down’ view of Haverfield and his successors, who brought to bear their own experiences of European colonialism and imperialism, through to more recent ‘bottom-up’ analyses employing post-colonial and related analyses, to the current position where the term can be seen as counter-productive.
The second part looks at the construction of ‘barbarian’ identities in the later Roman period (mainly the 4th and 5th centuries). It considers the construction of ‘ethnicity’ in the 20th century, from Kossinna on, and its relationship to material culture (if there is any). The recent discussions of the construction of ‘identity’ rather than just ‘ethnicity’ are considered. Particular use is made of the rich textual and archaeological evidence for the (Visi-)Goths.
Both part of the module seek to deconstruct traditional views and show how new thinking is necessitating profound review of previously accepted categories of ‘ethnicity’ in favour of considerations such as age, gender and status.
Individuals in History
This module explores the theory and practice of historiography, normally in the Roman world, with particular emphasis on the role of the individual. Typically, the module will be centred on a key text or texts which will enable students to develop strategies for reading and understanding the sources (biographic, literary, historical, material cultural) through which the role of the individual is accessed, and the relationship between individuals and their cultures is understood. This module will investigate issues such as: the significance of individuals in models of historical causation; the impact of biographical tropes and the importance of particular topoi for understanding characterisation; theories of the individual, character-development and biographical criticism; how individuals project themselves into history, versus the impact of historiographic/cultural imperatives on the representation of individuals within history.
Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture I
This module is based on the largest source of fresh evidence for the Late Roman-to- early medieval Eastern Mediterranean world (including southeastern Europe), namely archaeology. It is designed to accustom interested students to using archaeological materials in the discussion of historians’ ideas about economic, social, cultural, and even political changes. A background in archaeology is not essential, but some general aspects of the aims and methods of different types of archaeological projects must be introduced. The module(s) will deal with this by exploring the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East. We will then focus on the new debates which archaeology stimulates about important aspects of history from ca. 300 to ca. 800 AD. These concern the multiple impacts of invaders and invasions, Christianisation, demographic changes, the transformation of urban culture, and changes in rural settlement, agriculture, and artisanal production. By the end of this module you should be able to recognise key aspects of the Late Roman and Transitional (‘Dark-Age’) archaeological record, understand the problems and value of different archaeological strategies, and use the burgeoning archaeological literature to discuss some of the major long-term changes that characterise the period ca. 300-800 beyond western and northern Europe.
Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture II
This module is based on the burgeoning archaeology of the medieval eastern Mediterranean and SE Europe and has the same general aims and themes as Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology I. However, taking account of the rise and spread of Islam, the Slavs, and eventually the Crusades, and the divisions which these brought to the geographical space concerned, the course concentrates on the Christian world in the Balkans, Greece, Cyprus and Anatolia. At the same time the survival of local archives from the 9th c. onwards creates new possibilities for an historical archaeology of regions and sub-regions. By the end of this module you should be able to recognise key aspects of the medieval Byzantine and Crusader (‘Frankish’) archaeological record, use the archaeological literature to question some of the grand narratives of historians, and see ‘dramatic’ short-term historical changes from new perspectives.
Archaeology of Greece
Herodotus and Ancient Worlds
Myth and Text in Antiquity
Research Project Development
Some of these optional modules may form the core of other pathways.
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are as follows:
Home / EU: £6,210 full-time; £3,105 part-time
Overseas: £14,140 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.
The University of Birmingham is offering awards of ?2,000 to outstanding alumni wishing to undertake Masters study at the University during 2015. There are 50 awards available and applications for the bursary must be submitted by 17:00 on 31 March 2015. Full details and how to apply can be found on the Distinguished Alumni Scholarship page.
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.