Classical Studies

Study mode:Online Study type:Part-time Languages: English
Local:$ 12.1 k Foreign:$ 12.1 k  
StudyQA ranking:4933 Duration:2 years

This MA is designed to help you acquire and develop research skills that will enhance your knowledge of the ancient Graeco-Roman world and prepare you for independent study culminating in a dissertation. It investigates Classical Studies as a multidisciplinary field and brings you into direct contact with texts, artefacts and other surviving evidence from classical antiquity.

This fragmentary evidence is examined from a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives including options in classical archaeology, language and reception, and a subject module based around the body in classical antiquity.

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in classical studies will:

  • build upon and develop your existing knowledge of, and interest in, the subject of classical studies
  • provide you with an advanced academic training for the practice of classical studies at postgraduate level
  • provide you with experience of independent research and scholarly presentation in classical studies.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the programme are described in four areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • basic research methodologies relating to a range of different areas within the classical studies discipline, acquired during your study of the foundation module
  • have a more specialised knowledge of one subject area, acquired during your study of the subject module which forms the second element in the degree
  • have a detailed, specialist knowledge of a selected topic, acquired during the research and writing up of your dissertation, which forms the final element in the degree.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • analyse critically and integrate evidence from ancient sources with modern scholarly interpretation
  • analyse critically current ideas and debates
  • construct an effective scholarly argument on a range of topics/issues.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • identify and critically discuss key issues relating to the discipline of classical studies
  • handle primary and secondary sources with confidence
  • have a familiarity with some of the problems and opportunities involved in original research and writing
  • design a research proposal according to specific guidelines
  • apply an appropriate scholarly referencing system to your work.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


You will be able to:

  • communicate effectively in writing to a specialised audience
  • be aware of the tools which can help you in the task of effective communication
  • vary your means of communication according to the specialised task at hand.

Improving your own learning experience

You will be able to:

  • design a programme of research and writing with minimal support from a tutor
  • use feedback from your tutor and from fellow students effectively to modify this programme of work
  • use other resources, such as libraries and ICT resources, to improve your learning experience.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You will have the opportunity to acquire all of the above skills which will be taught, learned and assessed concurrently in the course of studying the degree. You will be expected to show an increasingly independent and sophisticated approach as the skills and techniques of advanced study become more familiar, culminating in your dissertation, which will be a substantial and largely independent piece of work.

Teaching will be coordinated by your tutor, who will advise you, comment on and mark your assignments, generally provide feedback and help you to acquire the skills of advanced independent study. Communication will be via face-to-face sessions and (more frequently) written, telephone and, if appropriate, IT contact.

Learning will be via teaching blocks, which will concentrate on providing the tools for independent study, suggesting lines of investigation, methods of analysis and providing bibiographical assistance. Your acquisition of the appropriate skills, knowledge, etc. will regularly be tested in the assessments.

Assessment: you will regularly be required to submit work (tutor-marked assignments) in the form of essays and shorter analyses; for the foundation module you will write five assignments and in addition be required to take a three-hour exam at the end of the module; the subject module consists of four assignments and an ‘examinable component’ (a 3000-word mini-dissertation which will count for 50% of the final mark for that module). The final module will comprise your dissertation (16,000–18,000 words) which will be the culmination of the degree.

The assessment exercises are carefully designed to reflect the learning curve of the degree, taken as a whole.

Career impact

Studying an MA in Classical Studies at the OU is challenging but fun. You will learn about the many different aspects of Greek and Roman worlds - their literature, history, philosophy and material cultures - and the various ways one can approach them through a scholarly tradition that is both fast-moving and long-standing. As well as giving you the opportunity to explore an area of that world which particularly interests you, by means of developing your critical ability and independent thinking the MA in Classical Studies can help benefit your career and even be the first step towards a PhD. Above all, it will lead to a better understanding of where we come from and who we are today.

Classical Studies part 1

Our fascination with ancient Greece and Rome continues to this day. The postgraduate foundation module in classical studies provides some answers to the question, ‘How do we know what we know’ about these two ancient civilizations. It meets this challenge by investigating classical studies as a multidisciplinary field. The fragmentary nature of the evidence requires approaching this question with reference to a variety of sources and using multiple perspectives. The module introduces you to classical studies at postgraduate level, offering a choice of pathways through the material. The module is designed to help you acquire and hone research skills in preparation for further study.

What you will study

Introductory block

In the Introductory block you will revise and update your research skills and enhance your knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome by focusing on a series of case studies that explore the question of ‘How do we know what we know’ about classical antiquity. We will investigate ancient and modern technologies of knowledge, discuss the role of the investigator, how to find a personal voice when writing, investigate ancient historians’ view of history, examine the Arch of Constantine and finally the impact that discovering new material from classical antiquity has on our understanding of the classical world. In this block you will focus on themes that will be explored in more detail throughout the module such as classical archaeology, language and concepts, and the reception of classical antiquity in the modern world.

Greek and Latin Languages and Concepts

Greek and Latin Languages and Concepts explores ancient Greek language and concepts by exploring adultery in ancient Greek law and Catullus’ love poetry. This Block does not require you to have any knowledge of the ancient languages, but for those that do, there will be optional exercises that allow you to utilise and hone your language skills. The set texts for this block are M. J. Edwards, and S. Usher, Greek Orators 1: Antiphon and Lysias (1985) and Catullus’ poems.

Classical Archeology

Classical Archeology investigates the archaeology of the Colosseum valley in Rome focusing on what we know about this key location, in particular about the Flavian amphitheatre popularly known as the Colosseum. You will also investigate the valley’s role within the larger framework of the Roman Empire.

Concluding block

The Concluding block explores three case studies that will enable you to consolidate and revise what you have learned throughout the module by focusing on the Library of Alexandria, ancient inscriptions and graffiti, and the poetry of Sappho. This block prepares you for your end-of-module assessment, and will help you to look ahead to MA Classical Studies part 2.

This module will be of interest to those who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding of the classical world and of the research methods and perspectives of those working in this field of study.

You will learn

The postgraduate module in classical studies will build on the foundational skills that you have acquired in undergraduate modules, while challenging you to develop them further at the postgraduate level. Throughout the module, you will be expected to engage with both ancient and modern material. You will be asked to evaluate ancient texts within their specific contexts as well as engaging with modern scholarly debates on these issues and accessing their relevance and contribution.

Classical Studies part 2

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in Classical Studies course. Your degree need not be in the subject area, but you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area and show some knowledge of classical studies. The part 1 module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches in classical studies but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree or inadequate experience. Before you start the MA you must be able to:write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt proseread large quantities of text quickly, accurately and criticallyclassify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliabilityargue logically, consistently and scepticallymarshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.If you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for advice.You must commence your studies towards the MA in Classical Studies with the part 1 module and your final module must be the part 2 module.You must complete this qualification within ten years.You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.You will also need to be proficient in English, to an IELTS standard of 7.0. If you are unsure you will be able to take a free English test as part of the registration process. English Language Requirements IELTS band: 7 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

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