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: Methodologies in Byzantine Studies.

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

  • Aspects of Byzantine History: Byzantine Society
  • Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture
  • Byzantine Art and Architecture
  • Coins and the Economy
  • The Economies of the Late Roman, Byzantine and Frankish East

Full module descriptions are available below.

Assessment 

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment, other than language modules which may be assessed by examination. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice.

Why study this course

  • Established expertise - 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.
  • Flexibility - with such a range of expertise available, you will be supported to explore your specific interests, particularly through the dissertation.
  • Exceptional learning resources - you will have access to the Roman and Byzantine coin collection at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, one of the largest in the world, and the library of Professor A.A. M. Bryer, the founder of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, housed in the seminar room of the Centre.
  • Research strengths - Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five Russell Group departments of Classics in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • 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.

Modules

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.
Assessment: Class test or examination

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.
Assessment: Take-home paper or examination

Modern Languages modules are also available.

You will also study a third core module:

Methodologies in Byzantine Studies

This module provides an introduction to predominant research methodologies in Byzantine studies. You are given introductory training in a variety of subject areas, such as historical writing, charters and documents, art history, numismatics, epigraphy and sigillography. Emphasis is placed on the primary sources and the analytical and bibliographical skills required for interpreting narrative, documentary and material evidence relating to the Byzantine past.
Assessment: Four 1,000-word essays

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

Aspects of Byzantine History: Byzantine Society

This module takes a broad perspective on Byzantine society, concentrating on the middle Byzantine period (7th-11th centuries). We will work our way from the top – the emperor, the court, the bureaucracy – to the bottom of the social ladder, i.e. the peasants and the unfree. We will approach the social structures of Byzantium from a variety of angles, looking at the court, family structures, provincial society, merchants etc. We will use a range of sources, from the court hierarchies defined in the Taktika to legal sources on land ownership, and from historiography to first-hand accounts of captivity, and apply a comparative approach when useful.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture

The module surveys the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East, and explores key aspects of the Late Roman and Transitional (‘Dark-Age’) archaeological record, different archaeological strategies, and how archaeological literature can be used to understand some of the major long-term changes that characterise the period AD 300-800. It focuses in particular on interpretative themes such as Christianisation, invasions, demographic changes, the transformation of urban culture, and changes in rural settlement, agriculture and artisanal production.
Assessment: Written assignment

Byzantine Art and Architecture

This module 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 from the foundation of Constantinople in 324 until the end of the Byzantine empire (1453).
Assessment: Written assignment

Coins and the Economy 

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).
Assessment: Written assignment

The Economies of the Late Roman, Byzantine and Frankish East

This module introduces the economic history of the post-Roman East (4th-15th cc.). Lectures first review critically a range of approaches to pre-modern economies and explore their value for historical enquiries; then the study of parameters of long- and short-term change (environmental, demographic and technological); key trajectories (e.g., in land-use, artisanal production, trade, redistribution, and monetisation); evolving forms of land tenure and taxation; the state’s involvement in the economy; the roles of the Church and the law; and the impact of the Italian mercantile republics. In the seminar component you will have the opportunity to consider this predominantly empirical history in the light of the more theoretical approaches, and in the light of the burgeoning archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean, confronting some of the problems of the relationship between theories, texts, and archaeology.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £17,010 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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

We  normally require a 2:1 degree, or equivalent, in a discipline relevant to the selected pathway, such as Classics, Archaeology or History.

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

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

Learn more about applying

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 course is delivered through a range of teaching and learning methods, including lectures and seminars. You will also receive one-to-one supervision to support you in the development of your dissertation.

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies

Graduates with a postgraduate degree in Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies can boast a wide combination of skills that can be applied in many types of work and which employers regard very positively. Many graduates have gone on to pursue academic posts at institutions such as Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard University), University of Birmingham and University of Warwick.

Over the past five years, 91% of MA Antiquity postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. 

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.