MA Classics and Ancient History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Our MA Classics and Ancient History is flexible and wide-ranging.

It reflects the broad, multidisciplinary nature of the subject, which includes Latin and Greek language, the history of Greek and Roman antiquity from archaic times to the beginning of the Middle Ages, and Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, and culture.

The course is designed to introduce you to advanced study in your chosen field and equip you with the skills required for doctoral research.

The course and most units within it allow you to tailor your advanced study and research-preparation to your interests, needs and existing knowledge.

We also offer a specialist route through the MA, the City of Rome pathway. This pathway involves taking a course unit at the British School at Rome, for which you prepare by studying a course on Roman social and urban history.

We expect all students to study Greek or Latin at an appropriate level. However, no existing knowledge of Latin or Greek is required, and we welcome students who want to begin their study of the ancient languages during their MA.

For any queries related to the course, please contact Dr Ruth Morello .


On successful completion of this MA, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate the enhancement of previously acquired skills at a more critical, reflective, and sophisticated level, especially skills involving synthesising information from a variety of sources, historical and/or literary interpretation, exercising independent and critical judgement;
  • understand and respect the 'otherness' of the past by developing specialist knowledge about one or more aspect of Graeco-Roman civilisation;
  • describe, analyse, and assess ancient sources, including (as appropriate) literary, non-literary, visual, and material evidence;
  • design and complete a substantial piece of independent research;
  • work effectively as an autonomous scholar;
  • understand complex problems and communicate them clearly in oral and written form, with the help, where appropriate, of visual or graphic aids.

Special features

City of Rome pathway 

You can take a specialist route through the MA, the City of Rome pathway.

This pathway involves taking a course unit at the British School at Rome, for which you prepare by studying a course on Roman social and urban history.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a variety of teaching methods, depending on the units you take. These can include seminars, eLearning and one-to-one sessions.

Taught units usually involve 11 'classroom' hours consisting of both student-led and tutor-led discussion, supported by additional guidance and planning sessions. 

You may (with the permission of the Programme Director) take a Directed Reading course unit (typically delivered in six 'classroom' hours). These units come in three slightly different forms: (1) a personalised independent study unit, on a topic of your choice, (2) an enhanced Level 3 course unit, in which you attend the scheduled lectures and seminars, but you receive additional seminars at a more advanced level, and (3) a small-group (3-6 students) independent study unit on a specific advertised topic. You must apply to the Postgraduate Programme Director if you wish to be considered for one of these units.

Coursework and assessment

Taught units are usually assessed by extended essay, but assessment might also include oral presentations, conference posters, commentary exercises and (particularly for language units) formal examinations.

You will also write a dissertation of between 12,000 and 15,000 words.

Course unit details

The MA is made up of a taught element (120 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).  

Course units vary from year to year, depending on staff availability and student enrolment, but you will find below details of the units which we are currently planning to offer in 2021. 

If you are planning to take the MA part-time over two years, please note that we cannot guarantee that all of these course units will definitely run in 2023.

If you are particularly keen to take a specific course unit, you are advised to discuss your plans with the Programme Director, Dr Ruth Morello ( ). 

Research training 

Our core unit, 'Studying the Ancient World: Techniques and Approaches', introduces you to the key research questions and methods involved in advanced study of the discipline and, in Semester 2, gives you experience in developing and presenting your own research project. 

Language units 

If you are a beginner, you will take one of our specially-designed 'intensive' courses in Latin or Greek, which will put you in a position to start reading ancient texts in the original language before the end of your MA.

If you have already studied Greek or Latin, you will continue your study of one or both languages at an appropriate level.

If you are already at a very advanced stage in both languages, you will take a specially-designed course unit which allows you further to develop your language skills in an area related to your research interests (for example, palaeography, papyrology, textual criticism or epigraphy). 

Taught course units 

The remainder of your taught credits are selected from a range of taught units, chosen from a menu covering a range of topics in Greek and Roman history, literature, and culture. Most taught units are worth 15 credits.

It is possible for one of these units to be an approved unit from another subject area (for example, History or Archaeology), or a Directed Reading course, in which you are free to pursue whatever avenue is of interest to you, by negotiation with a tutor and with the Postgraduate Programme Director.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
MA Dissertation CAHE60070 60 Mandatory
The Study of the Ancient World CAHE60510 30 Mandatory
Directed Reading (semester 1) CAHE60001 15 Optional
Directed Reading (semester 2) CAHE60002 15 Optional
Advice & Abuse: Horace's Satires and Epistles CAHE60022 15 Optional
Climate and Environment in the Ancient World: Integrating written and geoarchaeological evidence CAHE60051 15 Optional
The City of Rome (Course-Unit Provided by the British School at Rome) CAHE60222 30 Optional
Hellenistic Poetry CAHE60302 15 Optional
Heritage, Museums & Conflict CAHE60462 15 Optional
Heritage, Museums and Conflict CAHE60562 30 Optional
Using the Past: History & Memory in the Greek World CAHE61121 15 Optional
Augustan Rome CAHE64031 15 Optional
Social Studies of Ancient Egypt CAHE66111 15 Optional
Art and Artists in Ancient Egypt CAHE66132 15 Optional
Urbanism in Ancient Egypt CAHE66142 15 Optional
Speaking Stones: Roman Epigraphy CAHE66811 15 Optional
Advanced Latin Language 1 CAHE70110 15 Optional
Advanced Greek Language 1 CAHE70120 15 Optional
Intensive Greek 1 CAHE70151 15 Optional
Intensive Greek 2 CAHE70162 15 Optional
Intensive Latin 1 CAHE70171 15 Optional
Intensive Latin 2 CAHE70182 15 Optional
Advanced Latin Language 2 CAHE70210 15 Optional
Advanced Greek Language 2 CAHE70220 15 Optional
Advanced Latin Language 3 CAHE70310 15 Optional
Advanced Greek Language 3 CAHE70320 15 Optional
Reading the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Palaeography, Codicology, and Sources SALC70040 15 Optional
From Papyrus to Print: The History of the Book SALC72110 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 28 course units


Of special significance for classicists and ancient historians are the impressive collections of papyri, medieval manuscripts and early printed books held at The John Rylands Library.

The library boasts 12,500 books printed between 1475 and 1640 (including the second largest collection of works printed by Caxton), and around 45,000 printed between 1641 and 1700.

The Manchester Museum houses one of the UK's most important collections, including artefacts of particular relevance to ancient historians.

We have our own collection of classical texts, translations and reference works, housed in a recently refurbished study room, which is always available for use.

Find out more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: