The MA in Roman History and Archaeology is designed for students who wish to adopt a twin-tracked approach to the past by using both historical and archaeological evidence.
This programme is also available with a term in Rome.
Roman civilisation produced one of the largest empires of the ancient world. The Roman Empire had one of the most advanced technologies of the ancient world, producing major architectural, cultural and artistic achievements. The extensive remnants left behind enable us to recreate and understand Roman culture thousands of years later.
The Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies contains expertise in most areas of Roman history and archaeology, from the study of artefacts to papyri. We have one of the largest concentrations of Romanists, whose expertise includes Egypt, Medicine, the North-West Provinces, Ostia, Pompeii, Rome, and stretches across periods from the Hellenistic to the Late Antique.
In your first term, the focus is on research skills in both Roman history and in archaeology to provide the foundation from which you may develop as a postgraduate researcher. Your second term is focussed on specialist modules that directly engage with research conducted in the Department. You also have the opportunity to engage with our postgraduate community that comes together with our staff at our research seminar series to which we invite leading speakers from across the UK and Europe.
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 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.
Think Kent video series
Migration is the key challenge of the 21st century, but almost 2,000 years ago in the Roman Empire, migration rates were higher than those in Europe today. In this lecture, Professor Ray Laurence, Professor of Roman History and Archaeology at the University of Kent, examines how the Roman Empire enabled the mobility of both the forces of the state and of its subjects.
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.
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CL805 - Contemporary Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Issues
The module is designed with training, knowledge enhancement and skills acquisition to the fore. The module begins with an introduction to the origins and development of theoretical perspectives in archaeology (e.g. cultural history, the New Archaeology, Post-Processualism), and assesses the contributions of these approaches. A central question is how we may study and define past society. Artefacts and their value as evidence of the past are then considered within a contemporary intellectual framework. Settlement sites are then examined and in particular approaches to understanding their morphology, elements and their identity as lived environments; spatial approaches are considered here too. Approaches to the archaeology of landscape are in turn examined, this being a dynamic field in contemporary archaeological understanding. How archaeological data is assesses, organized, and published is then examined from a theoretical and methodological angle. Finally, how the various strands of archaeological data can be brought together to assemble a coherent picture of past human life and society are critically examined and reviewed.Read more
CL807 - Roman Archaeology: Northern Provinces of the Empire from their Iron Age
The module examines the varied, rich and extensive archaeological (and historical) evidence for settlement and social life in the area of the northern provinces of the Roman empire and its near neighbours during the Late Iron Age and Roman eras. The module structure is thematic and explores a range of inter-related topic areas. Particular emphasis is placed on new ideas and approaches. It is expected that there will be site and museum visits related to this module, undertaken in the south-east of England and/or on the near continent.
Topics typically covered would be: the nature of the archaeological record for the era and approaches to its study; material culture and society in the Iron Age: production and consumption; regional patterns and identity in the Iron Age; continuities into the Roman era and the civitates system; the historiography of Roman studies in North West Europe; the archaeology of Roman London; the character and morphology of settlement in the Roman era: towns and cities, smaller centres and the countryside; material culture and society in the Roman period: production and consumption; regional civitas capitals; the archaeology of the Roman era in The Netherlands (Lower Germany); the Roman Saxon-Shore and military society; religion and ritual; society in the later Roman era and the end of urban life; burial evidence and patterns; the archaeologies of people: gender, status, ethnicity and biography.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Teaching and Assessment
The programme is assessed by coursework for each of the modules and by the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- provide research training in the subject area of Roman history and archaeology
- expand your depth of knowledge of key subject areas in Roman history and archaeology
- 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 skills to equip you for a further career either for doctoral research in Roman history and archaeology, 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 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 at an advanced level
- the research skills associated with the use of ancient evidence to produce historical and archaeological narratives and analyses that engage with the most recent development in research in Roman history and archaeology
- basic philosophical issues by thinkers of very different cultural and linguistic assumptions from our own
- the nature of the societies and political systems of antiquity
- familiarity with an appropriate and diverse range of primary materials: material culture, epigraphy, papyrology, literature, visual material, and history
- a broad and systematic knowledge developed within a coherent framework of complementary subjects, including archaeology and history.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- how to apply the skills needed for academic study and enquiry
- how to evaluate research and a variety of types of information and evidence critically
- how to synthesise information critically from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice
- how to apply strategies for appropriate selection of relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge
- how to utilise problem-solving skills
- how to analyse, evaluate and interpret the evidence underpinning archaeological, historical, linguistic and literary research critically.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- have an advanced understanding of another culture, whether focused on its archaeology, history, 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 archaeology, history, art, literature, linguistics, language, and philosophy, or theme-based topics which cross the boundaries between them (eg religion, gender studies), and periods
- familiarity with, and be able to evaluate, an appropriate and diverse range of primary materials, e.g. archaeological evidence, historical texts, art objects, 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 (e.g. in archaeology), philosophical argument and analysis.
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
- the ability to take responsibility for personal and professional learning and development (personal development planning)
- the ability to manage time, prioritise workloads and recognise and manage personal emotions and stress
- the ability to understand your career opportunities and challenges ahead and begin to plan your career path
- the ability to information management skills, eg IT skills.
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, and 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.
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
The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Roman History and Archaeology - 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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