The MA in Ancient History has a focus on research training that will place you in a strong position for further study for a PhD or for careers outside academia that require research skills.
The major civilisations of the ancient world, including those of Egypt, Greece and Rome, still shape global culture today. Our MA in Ancient History enables you to gain an advanced understanding of ancient culture, whether you focus on literature, thought, art or religion. The MA gives you an opportunity explore the history, political and social organisation, or material artefacts of ancient cultures, to demonstrate a critical engagement and develop an informed sense of the similarities and differences between them and our own culture.
The programme allows you to develop your research skills and to become by the end of the degree an independent researcher, well equipped for future work for a PhD or to undertake research outside academia. The programme begins by focusing on research skills, which you study alongside either an option module or a language module (in ancient Greek or Latin). For the Spring Term, you choose two option modules that reflect the research interests of staff within the Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies.
In the summer, you write a dissertation of up to 15,000 words with advice from one of our experts to demonstrate the skills that you will have gained during your 12 month MA.
This is an ideal programme for graduates of history, ancient history, classics or the wider humanities, wanting to gain practical experience in applying their expertise.
This programme is taught at our Canterbury campus. There is also a version of this programme which allows you to spend a term in Rome. This gives you direct access to Roman sites, museums and architecture, in order to see how the Roman Empire has shaped the city to this day.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, classics was ranked 2nd for research impact and in the top 20 for research intensity, research power, research quality and research output in the UK.
An impressive 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
CL900 - Research Skills in Ancient History - Understanding the City in Antiquit
The module introduces students to key research skills for the study of ancient history and the associated discipline of Roman archaeology. The focus will be on group work that will investigate how we can gain greater knowledge of an aspect of the ancient city. In so doing, students will learn new skills ranging from researching bibliographies to the development of a sustained research project. A particular focus will be placed on critique of the modern scholarship on the subject, based on historical, epigraphic, archaeological, numismatic and visual sources. The curriculum is designed to develop students' research skills at the beginning of a one year FT MA or two-year PT MA in the Autumn term. The seminars will also focus on the development of the PhD research proposal.View full module details
|Optional modules may include||Credits|
CL898 - Rome: The Myth of the Eternal City
The module introduces students to key skills for the study of the mythology of Rome as an eternal city. The focus will be on group work that will investigate how we can gain greater knowledge of key aspects of the creation of myths of the city of Rome and how mythology can be adjusted through reception and incorporation of new ideas, yet proclaiming a continuity with the past. The curriculum is designed to develop students' research skills and the development of their awareness of public engagement with research. The seminars will also focus on the development of blogs as well as the research skills to develop a longer piece of academic writing in the form of an essay. Students will learn new skills ranging from researching bibliographies, writing succinctly, using hyperlinks in blog formats, through to the development of a sustained research project to underpin their essay.View full module details
CL820 - The Political, Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World
This module aims to provide a detailed overview of the most important events and trends of the political, social and economic history of the Hellenistic period, based on the most recent results of research. Its objective is to make the students familiar with both the diverse ancient sources and the secondary literature, not just from the perspective of the conquering Macedonians and Greeks but also from that of the conquered native civilisations, such as Persians, Jews, Syrians and Egyptians. The module will be taught on the basis of a wide variety of sources, including historical, literary, epigraphic, papyrological and archaeological. Particular attention will be paid to the interaction of different political, social and economic systems and to the emergence of new structures as a consequence.View full module details
CL821 - Ancient Greek Science: Astronomy and Medicine
Ancient Greek concepts of 'rational science' were vastly different from modern perceptions and discipline classifications. Its foundation was grounded in philosophical discussions that considered the nature of the cosmos and all that existed within it. This module demonstrates how the subjects were interlinked through a close analysis of the development of ancient astronomy and medicine, from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods. It discusses literary, philosophical and archaeological material. The first half of the module will focus on astronomy. The second half of the module will concentrate on medicine and begin with a discussion of the pre-Socratic philosophers’ introduction of the theory of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water that were present within everything, including the stars and the body. From here students will examine how the theory of the four elements was transformed into the humoural system. Consideration will also be given to how the body and health were influenced by environment and astronomy discussed in the first half of the module.View full module details
CL830 - International Heritage, Archaeology and Development
This module will allow students to explore the different aspects of the complex relationships between archaeology, heritage and development. Each week, the lecture will focus on one aspect of this complex nexus. This will include analyses of the debates on whether heritage/archaeology and development are opposite or complementary; critical analyses of the key international actors and their agendas on heritage and development; issues of stakeholders' participations in heritage-led development projects; the concepts of Historic Urban Landscapes and of the limit of acceptable change; the social and economic impacts of heritage-led regeneration (both quantitative and qualitative); and critical analyses of the post-development debate in relation to archaeology and heritage. The student-focused seminars will include presentations by students of key readings, as well as critical analyses and discussions of references related to each lecture.View full module details
CL831 - Heritage and Human Rights
This module will allow students to explore the different aspects of the increasingly important relationships between heritage (understood in its broadest sense) and human rights. Each week, the lecture will focus on one aspect of this complex relationships, using existing references as well as the extensive work undertaken by the course convenor on this topic. This will include analyses of the concept of human rights itself, and of human rights based approaches to heritage conservation and management; issues of repatriation and indigenous heritage, rights and heritage in conflict and post-conflict zones as well as museums and the socio-economic rights of minorities.
This module will also provide some introduction to an ethical approach to fieldwork or heritage management through introducing students to anthropological or ethnological methods, including participatory approaches to heritage conservation and management; methods for conducting social impact assessment or rapid ethnographic assessment. The student-focused seminars will include presentations by students of key readings, as well as critical analyses and discussions of references related to each lecture. During the seminar, students will also discuss the preparation of the event which they will be assessed on (e.g. exhibition, reading, presentations, panel discussions, symposium, etc), and any issue with this task will be collectively solved.View full module details
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
CL897 - CL Dissertation
The Dissertation module comprises supervised research undertaken by the student, in the broad area of the history, literary sources and archaeology of the ancient world. A curriculum will be developed by the student around their own particular research interests.View full module details
Teaching and Assessment
The programme is assessed by coursework for each of the modules, an examination in Latin or ancient Greek, if these modules are taken, and by the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- provide research training in the subject area of ancient history
- expand your depth of knowledge of key subject areas in ancient history
- attract outstanding students, irrespective of race, background, gender or physical disability from both within the UK, and EU, and also from overseas
- develop new areas of postgraduate teaching in response to the advance of scholarship
- provide you with the skills to equip you for a further career either for doctoral research in ancient history, or in employment, with the use of these transferable skills
- develop your competence in applying skills to analysis of a diverse body of ancient evidence
- develop your critical and analytical powers in relation to the ancient material
- provide you with the skills to adapt and respond positively to change
- develop critical, analytical problem-based learning skills and the transferable skills to prepare you for graduate employment
- enhance the development of your interpersonal skills
- provide you with opportunities for shared multidisciplinary learning with archaeology, religious studies and philosophy
- assist you to develop the skills required for both autonomous practice and team-working.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- a complex range of disciplines, cultural relationships and varied geographical regions
- the research skills associated with the use of ancient evidence to produce historical narratives and analyses that engage with the most recent development in research in ancient history
- to come to terms with philosophical issues by thinkers of very different cultural and linguistic assumptions from our own
- to understand the nature of the societies and political systems of antiquity
- be familiar with an appropriate and diverse range of primary materials, epigraphy, papyrology, literature, visual material, and history
- a broad and systematic knowledge developed within a coherent framework of complementary subjects, including religion, history and ancient languages.
You develop intellectual skills in how to:
- apply the skills needed for academic study and enquiry
- evaluate research and a variety of types of information and evidence critically
- synthesise information critically from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice
- apply strategies for appropriate selection of relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge
- utilise problem-solving skills
- analyse, evaluate and interpret the evidence underpinning historical, linguistic and literary evidence critically.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- having an advanced understanding of another culture, whether focused on its literature, thought, art and religion, or its history and political and social organisation, or its material culture, demonstrate a critical engagement with it, develop an informed sense of the similarities and differences between it and our own culture
- have a broad knowledge, developed within a coherent framework, of complementary subjects, drawn from such fields as language, literature, linguistics, philosophy, history, art and archaeology, or theme-based topics which cross the boundaries between them (eg religion, gender studies), and periods
- be familiar with and able to evaluate an appropriate and diverse range of primary materials, eg literary, philosophical and historical texts, art objects, archaeological evidence and inscriptions
- command a range of techniques and methodologies, such as bibliographical and library research skills, a range of skills in reading and textual analysis, the varieties of historical method, the visual skills characteristic of art criticism, use of statistics (eg in archaeology), philosophical argument and analysis, and analytical grasp of an ancient language.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of individuals using a variety of means
- the ability to evaluate your own academic performance
- the ability to manage change effectively and respond to changing demands
Our MA programmes include much scope for vocational training, skills acquisition and guided project work, often with use of our extensive facilities. These aspects of our programmes have been praised by external assessors in recent years. Recent graduates have progressed to careers in a wide range of related professional and leadership areas, including national and local museums, teaching and senior roles with archaeological organisations (national government institutions, contracting units and trusts). A large proportion of completing Master’s students have progressed onto PhD study.
About the Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies
Classical & archaeological studies examines the textual and material evidence for a wide cross-section of the ancient world and includes three convergent research and teaching pathways: ancient history, classical literature, and archaeology. Many core areas in the investigation of the ancient world can be studied with us at postgraduate level.
The Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies operates as part of the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL), and there are corresponding opportunities for a high level of interdisciplinary interaction (five modern languages, philosophy, theology and religious studies and comparative literature), in addition to the informal links with staff in the rest of the University researching medieval history, the history of science, architecture and social anthropology. We have good partnerships with high-profile universities and organisations such as the Ghent University, University Lille 3, the Flemish Heritage Institute, UCLA, the Free University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
We offer bursaries to enable students to participate in departmental fieldwork projects covering travel, food and accommodation. Typically, around 30 students each year have been placed on research and training excavations in Britain, Italy (including Ostia, port of Rome) and Greece, relating to sites of Bronze Age Greek (Minoan), Iron Age, Roman, and Late Antique and Anglo-Saxon date.
The School has extensive literary holdings and many other facilities to support active research, and the Templeman Library also has excellent holdings in all our areas of research interest. This includes an extensive range of English and international periodicals, as well as specialist collections (the library of A S L Farquharson, specialising in the age of Marcus Aurelius, and generous donations from the libraries of Victor Ehrenberg in ancient social history, Anthony Snodgrass, Richard Reece and Jill Braithwaite in archaeology). We have access to Canterbury Cathedral Library, and to archaeological libraries and collections in Kent, such as the major collection of the Kent Archaeological Society, and first-rate connections with London and continental Europe. Kent is now the home of the Colin Renfrew Archive, a major resource for research on the history of archaeology, archaeological theory, prehistoric Orkney and the Aegean Bronze Age.
The Department has its own specialist technician, Lloyd Bosworth, who is widely experienced and skilled in landscape archaeology, geographic information systems (GIS), digital imaging and laser scanning, as well as geophysical surveying. He offers advice and training in the use of the archaeological equipment and has worked in Belgium, Ostia, Rome and Crete.
The University has recently invested in a range of new archaeological equipment including a Romer laser scanner, portable XRF machinery, resistivity and magnetometer survey machines, GPS and a photographic lab.
The University of Kent’s location is highly convenient for students who need to visit not only the British Library and other specialist libraries in London, but also the major libraries and research centres within Europe.
All postgraduate students in SECL receive support and guidance within their departments and from the Graduate School. Within SECL, in addition to the research culture of your department, our research centres combine overlapping interests to foster interdisciplinary support and dialogue, while the Graduate School provides a Researcher Development Programme to equip you with a full range of skills that will improve your effectiveness as a researcher. Training courses are also offered by the Library and Computing Services, and by the Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (UELT).
Individual training is offered in accordance with a student’s needs. We offer training in Greek and Latin languages at the appropriate level; and specialist skills training in epigraphy, papyrology, palaeography and Egyptology, artefact studies and fieldwork methods. Postgraduates have also gained experience by mounting their own independent seminar programme to discuss work in progress (in addition to taking part in staff/postgraduate research seminars).
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Acta Antiqua; Archiv für Papyrusforschung, European Journal of Archaeology; Latomus; Hermes; L’études Classiques; Aegyptus; Annual Review of the British School at Rome; American Journal of Archaeology.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A first or upper-second class honours degree in ancient history, ancient history and archaeology, classical studies, classical and archaeological studies or another relevant subject (or the equivalent).
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Currently particular areas of interest are:
The history of archaeology; Roman ceramics; the archaeology of the Roman army and frontier; archaeology and gender; classical medicine; Minoan iconography, Mycenaean administration, Mycenaean epigraphy, ritual theory and general Bronze Age Aegean archaeology; archaeoastronomy; catasterism myths; later prehistory in temperate Europe, including the British Isles; the archaeology of the Roman era in Britain and the Western Provinces; Roman artefacts and art; the late post-Roman transition in the West; landscape and settlement studies; the archaeology of the Transmanche region; investigating the Mediterranean city in Late Antiquity (AD 300-650); Late Antiquity cities.
Classical studies, Late Antiquity and Byzantium
Ancient narrative literature, especially the novel; classical literature; Greek palaeography; hagiography; Byzantium; historiography; and gender studies.
Archaic, classical and Hellenistic Greece; late period, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt; the history of the Roman Republic; the life course; roads and the landscape of the Roman Empire; tourism and the classical tradition; the social, economic and financial aspects of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire; Greek and Egyptian papyrology; epigraphy; palaeography; Greek and Roman performance arts, costume, and gender studies.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Anne Alwis: Senior Lecturer in Classical Literature
Late Antiquity and Byzantium; hagiography; gender studies; Greek palaeography.View Profile
Dr Patricia Baker: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology
The archaeology of the Roman army and frontier; archaeology and gender; classical medicine.View Profile
Dr Efrosyni Boutsikas: Lecturer in Archaeology
Archaeoastronomy; Greek ritual; religious timekeeping; catasterism myths.View Profile
Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis: Senior Lecturer in Classical and Archaeological Studies
Minoan iconography; Mycenaean administration; ritual theory; general Bronze Age Aegean.View Profile
Dr Csaba La'da: Reader in Ancient History, Papyrology and Egyptology
Late period, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt; archaic, classical and Hellenistic Greece; Greek and Egyptian papyrology, epigraphy and palaeography.View Profile
Dr Sophia Labadi: Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Archaeology
Museums and human rights, world heritage and intangible heritage conventions as well as heritage and development.View Profile
Dr Luke Lavan: Lecturer in Archaeology
Late antique archaeology; the archaeology of late antique cities; visualisation of the ancient world.View Profile
Dr Dunstan Lowe: Lecturer in Classical Studies
Roman poetry, especially Virgil and Ovid.View Profile
Dr Ellen Swift: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology
Artefact studies; Roman dress accessories; the late post-Roman transition in the West; Roman art.View Profile
Dr Steven Willis: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology
Britain and Europe in the first millennium BC, the western Roman provinces, later prehistoric pottery and artefacts; samian pottery; the archaeology of the Transmanche area; landscape and maritime studies.View Profile
Dr Rosie Wyles: Lecturer in Classical History and Literature
Research interests include: Greek and Roman performance arts, costume, reception within antiquity and beyond it, and gender.View Profile
Dr Kelli Rudolph: Lecturer in Classical Studies
Ancient philosophy and science, especially issues related to ancient physics, metaphysics and epistemology.View Profile
Dr Luke Lavan: Lecturer in Archaeology
Everyday use of space in the late antique and early medieval city (AD 300-700), drawing on archaeological, textual and epigraphic evidence from across the Roman Empire.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Ancient History - MA at Canterbury:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com
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