1 year full time, 2 years part time
This is a specialist course geared towards preparing you for higher research in ancient philosophy - partly through direct research training, and partly through modules taught by experts in their field in small-group seminars. Durham has a longstanding tradition of international excellence in the field of ancient philosophy, with several recent doctoral students having gone on to take up academic positions in the UK and abroad. The course lasts for one year full-time (two years part-time).
You will take modules to a total of 180 or 190 credits. The structure of the course is as follows:
- Language module in an ancient or modern language relevant to research in the area of Classics (20-40 credits)
- Core module in Ancient Philosophy (30 credits)
- 15,000-word Dissertation (60 credits)
- Optional modules (50–80 credits).
MA modules are 30 credits; you may substitute two 20-credit undergraduate modules for one MA module. You may also take up to 40 credits of modules offered by other Departments (subject to approval).
Not all modules will be offered every year, and new modules (both optional and core) are added regularly.
- Language module in an ancient or modern language relevant to research in the area of Classics
- Core module in Ancient Philosophy (in 2018-19, options were Aristotle’s Systems, Plutarch the Philosopher or Cicero Philosophus)
Examples of optional modules:
Optional modules are offered according to the current research interests of members of staff. In recent years, optional modules available in the Department have included:
- Ancient Philosophers on Origins
- Animals in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
- Aristotle’s Systems
- Dreams in the Ancient World
- Forms After Plato
- Latin Love Elegy
- Law and Literature in Ancient Greece and Rome
- Greeks and the East
- Monumental Architecture of the Roman East
- Religious Life in The Roman Near East
- The Classical Tradition: Art, Literature, Thought
- The Queen of the Desert: Rise and Decline of Palmyra’s Civilization
- The Roman Republic: Debates and Approaches
The MA in Ancient Philosophy is principally conceived as a research training course, which aims to build on the skills in independent learning acquired in the course of the student’s first degree and enable them to undertake fully independent research at a higher level. Contact time with tutors for taught modules is typically a total of 5 hours per week (rising to 7 for someone beginning Latin or ancient Greek at this level), with an emphasis on small group teaching, and a structure that maximises the value of this time, and best encourages and focuses the student’s own independent study and preparation. On average, around 2 hours a week of other relevant academic contact (research seminars, dissertation supervision) is also available.
At the heart of the course is the Dissertation module, in which students write a 15,000 word dissertation of a research topic of their own devising. Core research training and support for students’ dissertation research is provided through the Dissertation seminars. These are weekly classes which in the first term introduce the range of research methods and resources available to someone working in the field of Classics, and over the year build the research skills needed for the dissertation. The classes comprise a mixture of lectures, student-led discussions and student presentations, and are tailored to the individual research interests of each cohort. In addition, students are matched with an individual Dissertation supervisor, who will be an expert in their field of interest, and from whom they will receive an additional five hours of individual dissertation supervision over the year.
In addition to the Dissertation, students select three or four further optional modules dealing with particular specialised subjects. At least one of these must involve work with a relevant language (ancient or modern), and at least one must deal directly with research on Ancient Philosophy.
We offer tuition in Greek and Latin at all levels, including Beginners classes for those with no previous experience in the subject, and advanced Greek and Latin Text Seminars for those with degree-level knowledge. Other ancient languages on offer at Durham include Akkadian, Hebrew and Aramaic; modern languages include German, French and Italian (there are usually specialised reading skills courses in these languages, designed to meet the needs of postgraduates who wish to use them for research).
All the optional modules offered at Durham are research-led, i.e. they will form part of the current research activity of the tutor taking the module. Numbers for each module are typically very small (often no more than five or six in a class). Typically, classes are two hours long and held fortnightly, and discussion is based on student presentations. (Modules for those beginning ancient Latin or Greek are typically more heavily subscribed, but their classes also meet more often: 3 hours per week.)
In exceptional cases, students with a particular research training need which matches Departmental expertise but is not covered by the taught provision in our or other Departments in any given year may also make a proposal to take an Independent Research Topic in place of one taught MA module. For an IRT, students produce an independent piece of research with an individual member of staff (usually a 5,000-word commentary or extended essay), receiving 5h of supervision. (Nb. There can be no overlap between the IRT and the Dissertation, and students must demonstrate on entry that they have the required expertise, and need, for project work in the relevant area).
All staff teaching on the MA are available for consultation by students, and run weekly office hours in addition to formal contact time. The MA Director acts as Academic Adviser to MA students, and is available as an additional point of contact, especially for matters concerning academic progress.
In addition to the formal part of the course, the Department has a very vibrant culture of research seminars and talks. In particular, MA students are strongly encouraged to attend the Department’s two research seminar series. Although not a formal (assessed) part of the MA, engagement with these seminars across a range of subjects is part of students’ development as researchers and ought to be viewed as essential to their course. In addition, MA students are welcome to attend and present at the ‘Junior Work-in-Progress’ seminar series organised by the PhD students in the Department. Finally, our student-run Classics Society regularly organises guest speakers – often very high-profile scholars from outside Durham.
A 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject or international equivalent.
Since all postgraduate degrees are meant to build on your undergraduate work, we ask for a previous degree in a 'relevant' subject. For the MA programme in Ancient Philosophy, you must have studied this field at the highest level of your undergraduate course.
Fees and funding
Full Time Fees
|Home students||£10,800 per year|
|EU students||£24,000 per year|
|Island students||£10,800 per year|
|International students||£24,000 per year|
Part Time Fees
|Home students||£5,940 per year|
|EU students||£13,200 per year|
|Island students||£5,940 per year|
|International students||£13,200 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
Classics and Ancient History
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Classics and Ancient History
The Department of Classics and Ancient History is an internationally leading centre for postgraduate study. As a centre of world-class research, we have a strong commitment to postgraduate provision, and welcome applications for MA and PhD work in any of the research specialties represented in the Department.
For more information see our department pages.
- World Top 15 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2021.
- 2nd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.
- 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.
Research Excellence Framework
- Ranked joint 2nd in the UK for Internationally Excellent and World-leading research impact (REF 2014).
We have an extensive collection of ancient texts in the original and in translation, modern scholarship, and reference works. Our library is particularly strong in ancient philosophy, but also provides valuable resources for students in all our programmes and a useful reference library for researchers. The collections amount to approximately 8,000 volumes, across three rooms. Students may borrow the books, and many also use the library as a quiet study space to use between lectures, or for informal discussion sessions and reading groups.
More information about our facilities.
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