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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our MA in Classics combines language studies with an exploration of the philosophy, history and culture of the Greek and Latin-speaking world to provide you with the academic foundations on which to build a career in research.

You will take the course over one year full-time or two years part-time, starting with a language module of your choice. This is studied alongside a range of optional Classics and other Arts & Humanities modules covering a broad range of subjects including philosophy, history, literature, and visual culture.   

The course is taught through lectures, seminars and small group discussions and there is an emphasis on small-group teaching through the course, to encourage in-depth debate and enable you to fully engage with a range of perspectives. You will also complete a major dissertation on a subject of your choosing, supported by teaching experts with a wide range of specialisms in a department which has an established international reputation for the excellence of its academic standards.

This expertise has led us to develop academic centres that have become the focus for vital research activity including the Centre for Classical Reception; the Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East; the Centre for Language and Writing Systems; the Durham Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy; and the Centre for Classics Pedagogy Education and Didactics.

As well as being taught by subject-area experts in a diverse and exciting intellectual community, you will have unique access to our extensive collection featuring some 8,000 volumes of ancient texts in the original and in translation that will be ideal for research purposes.

Course Structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components:

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits 

  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme

  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

For students studying the MA in Classics, the Dissertation (your Major Research Project (60 credits)) will be on a subject decided in consultation with your supervisor according to your research interests. It will feature an agreed framework of supervision that will build key skills for graduate research in classics and will bring together the research skills acquired through taught modules.

Students can opt for the standard Dissertation in Classics and Ancient History or can choose from one of two specialisms focusing on either Greece, Rome and the Near East or Ancient Philosophy.

You will also choose one or two core original language modules from the list below:

  • Latin Text Seminar (30 credits)
  • Greek Text Seminar (30 credits)
  • Latin for Research (30 credits)
  • Ancient Greek for Research (30 credits)

Finally, you will choose either 60 or 90 credits (depending on how many core modules you have selected) of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.


The principal aim of this course is to serve as research training that will build on your existing skills in independent learning.

The crucial learning mechanism is the dissertation in which core research training and support is provided through seminars comprising weekly classes of lectures, student-led discussions and student presentations.

All the optional modules offered, including mandatory courses in either Latin or ancient Greek at beginners’ or advanced level, are research-led and informed by the current research activity of the tutor taking the module.

For all these taught modules, your contact time with tutors is typically between five and eight hours per week and you will also have an average of two hours per term of dissertation supervision.

In addition to the formal part of the course, the department has a vibrant culture of research seminars, talks and reading groups, which you will be encouraged to attend. This offers an average of two hours a week of further learning contact time.


Assessment is rigorous and includes a 15,000-word dissertation. Other forms of assessment include essays, and in some modules, examinations or oral presentations. You may also be asked to produce commentaries, which are based on independent research into a particular text and are around 5,000 words in length.

Entry requirements

A 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject or international equivalent.

You are required to submit the following information with your online application:

  • Academic Transcripts and Certificates, if available and if degree already attained
  • Personal statement of about 500 words describing background in English studies / areas of interest and study.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,750 per year
EU students £26,750 per year
Island students £11,750 per year
International students £26,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,500 per year
EU students £14,800 per year
Island students £6,500 per year
International students £14,800 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Classics and Ancient History

The Department's national and international reputation for academic quality provides an ideal grounding for postgraduates to either continue their research at a higher level or secure a stimulating and rewarding professional career.

Our postgraduate qualifications develop a set of transferable skills including logical thinking and the evaluation and communication of information that are not only applicable in an academic environment but also deliver the skills and abilities valued across a range of professions.

Some of these professions relate to the subjects studied such as the heritage sector, the arts, teaching, the civil service, publishing and journalism. Other options include banking, law, PR, third sector, consultancy, insurance and administration. Employers who have taken on postgraduates include the Home Office, Deloitte, Manchester United, CitiBank, the NHS and pollsters YouGov.

For information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability pages.

Department information

Classics and Ancient History

The Department of Classics and Ancient History contains a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the artistic, historical, literary, linguistic, cultural and philosophical features of the ancient world that is recognised internationally.

With one of the largest gatherings of permanent Classics staff in the UK, we consistently rank among the top departments for research and teaching.

We offer two learning routes for postgraduates. You can undertake taught study and extend your knowledge to specialise in an area of particular interest. You can also benefit from the expertise within the Department and join a research master’s course allowing greater academic autonomy.

The Department is proud to be host to a number of highly successful research centres including the Centre for Classical Reception, the Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East, and the Durham Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy.

Much of the research activity naturally falls within these areas, offering excellent opportunities to develop cross-disciplinary work.

Given our wealth of knowledge, we have a global reputation for our innovative work in the study of ancient philosophy and science, Augustan poetry, the social and intellectual history of the Greco-Roman world and the Near East, architecture and urbanisation, and reception.

Our Department is highly international, diverse in its makeup and progressive in its world view. We aim to ensure a stimulating learning experience of the ancient world in a vibrant and supportive postgraduate community.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 13 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 5th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Classics and Ancient History Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 4th in the UKfor overall research quality (REF 2021)


In keeping with its position as a major centre for learning in Classics and Ancient History, the Department has world class facilities and offers an extensive collection of about 8,000 volumes of ancient texts in the original and in translation, as well as modern scholarship and reference works.

The emphasis of the library’s precious contents is on ancient philosophy, but the collection of texts and works provides an unmatched reference resource for researchers as well as a valuable knowledge source for all our course subjects.

Postgraduates can use assigned computer rooms, a dedicated Departmental library and two fully equipped seminar rooms which are situated in the beautiful and historic centre of Durham next to the Cathedral and Castle and close to the historic city centre.

More information about our facilities.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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