MA Antiquity: Classics and Ancient History pathway

The Antiquity MA: Classics and Ancient History pathway is for students interested in advanced study of any aspect of Greco-Roman civilisation.

Modules emphasise independent interpretation of primary evidence, and encourage you to draw connections across historical periods, between different types of evidence (textual, archaeological, iconographic), and between different cultures.

This programme offers an ideal opportunity to pursue your interests in the Graeco-Roman world in greater depth and also provides an ideal foundation for further research at doctoral level. All students take at least one classical language module, plus a general module on Research and Scholarship designed to introduce them to the professional skills required by an independent researcher. This is one of several pathways available on the Antiquity MA.

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.

Tamsin Cross

“The academic staff are fantastic at what they do – they are leaders in their field. We’ve been named as one of the top five UK universities for research in the Classics Department so I wanted to learn from people who are at the top of their field.”

This is the degree for you if you enjoyed studying the ancient world as an undergraduate, and would now like to study Classics and Ancient History 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 or Latin, from a range 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 Classics and Ancient History. Options available may include:

  • Ancient Egyptian Religion
  • Empire and Identity
  • Greek Drama since 1900
  • Herodotus and Ancient Worlds
  • Individuals in History

Full module descriptions are available below. 

Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment, exam or presentation, or a combination of these methods. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice.  

Why study this course

  • Established expertise - the University of Birmingham has a distinguished tradition of Classical scholarship going back more than a hundred years. 
  • 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 a range of learning resources including environmental and material culture teaching collections, the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Museum, and the Danford Collection of African art and artefacts.
  • 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 or Latin, 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:

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.
Assessment: Two written assignments and a 10-minute presentation

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

Ancient Egyptian Religion

This module covers diverse aspects of religion in ancient Egypt, including ideas about creation, the gods and the afterlife, religious practice in the community as well as in the temples, the interrelationship between religious and political authority, and funerary religion. Three different kinds of evidence, each with its own problems of interpretation, in combination provide as rounded a view of the subject as is possible: 1) texts, whether monumental or on papyrus; 2) pictorial evidence from temples, tombs, stelae etc.; and 3) other archaeological artifacts and contexts.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Empire and Identity

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Greek Drama Since 1900

The 20th century saw ancient Greek drama in performance reach a level of popularity (not only in Europe but world-wide) unparalleled since Athens in the fifth century BC. In the 21st century, performances and adaptations of Greek plays continue to proliferate. Directors turn to them both as ‘timeless classics’ and as opportunities for shocking iconoclasm. They are invoked as celebrations of shared heritage (Greek, other national, European, or human/ global) and as ‘transcending’ political difference but also as engaged theatre serving a wide range of political causes, perhaps especially as giving a voice to groups oppressed on grounds of sex, gender, ethnicity or religion and to victims of violence and war. There has also been a growing interest in the cognitive and psychological dimensions of Greek tragedy in particular, which has found a prominent place in the growing fields of theatre-in-education and drama therapy. Re-creation of Greek drama runs the gamut of theatrical practice from conservative to radical, from popular cultural traditions to intellectual experimentalism (often combining elements of both). New editions of ancient plays, new online archives, databases, and search engines, and other developments in digital scholarship have combined with advances in methodology to open the way for research into ancient drama and its reception of a depth and diversity hitherto impossible. This module draws on all these resources and on the constellation of expertise in CAHA and elsewhere in the College to realise this potential.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Herodotus and Ancient Worlds

This module explores the theory and practice of historiography in the ancient world, with particular emphasis on the role of Greek-speaking peoples and the cultures with which they came into contact. The module is centred on Herodotus' Histories, enabling you to develop strategies for reading and understanding the rhetorics of history, in conjunction with study of the cultural contexts which produce them. The module investigates the different ways in which texts produce, and are produced by, cultures, and the interfaces between civilisations that generate them. It investigates the connexions between theories of history, reception and hermeneutics, and the development of cultural identity and historical consciousness.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Individuals in History

This module explores the theory and practice of historiography in the Roman world, with particular emphasis on the author as an individual. The module is centred on a series of texts from the late Republic and early Empire which will enable you to develop strategies for reading and understanding the sources (biographic, literary, historical) 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 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.
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: Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology

Birmingham's Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Many of our postgraduates enter roles for which their programme has especially prepared them, such as museum and heritage activities and archaeological posts. Elsewhere, a range of professions are undertaken by our graduates, from librarianship and teaching to accountancy. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: AC archaeology; University of Birmingham; National Trust; and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

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.