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Course content

This is a programme geared towards preparing students for higher research into the interaction of the classical world with the Near East - partly through direct research training, and partly through modules taught by experts in their field in small-group seminars.

The relationship between the classical world and neighbouring civilisations is among the most important and most rapidly expanding areas of classical scholarship, and we have particular strength in this field: we offer tuition in Akkadian, and can draw on the resources of the Oriental Museum in Durham and the expertise pooled in the recently inaugurated Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East. The programme lasts for one year (two years part-time), and centres around a core module on cultural contact in the Ancient World.

Other key elements of the course include a core research training module, a 15,000 word dissertation, and one elective module, which is offered in the areas of current research interests of members of staff.

Course Structure

Information on the structure of the course.
Core Modules:
-Dissertation
-Classical Research Methods and Resources
-Compulsory language module (Latin for research/Ancient Greek for research/another ancient language/modern language)
-Religious Life in the Roman Near East or Akkadian

Optional Modules:
In previous years, optional modules available included:
-Forms After Plato
-Latin Text Seminar
-Greek Text Seminar
-Akkadian
-Latin Love Elegy
-Religious Life in The Roman Near East
-Monumental Architecture of The Roman East
-Vitruvius, On Architecture: The First Treatise On Architecture, Its Significance and Legacy
-Greek Sacred Regulations
-Ancient Philosophers On Necessity, Fate and Free Will
-The Classical Tradition: Art, Literature, Thought
-Comparative Approaches to Homeric Epic
-Greek Text Seminar On Homeric Epic
-Latin Text Seminar On Roman Epic
-Life and Death On Roman Sarcophagi
-Juvenal's Satires in Context
-Ancient Philosophers On Origins
-Animals in Graeco-roman Antiquity
-The Queen of The Desert: Rise and Decline of Palmyra's Civilization
-The Roman Republic: Debates and Approaches
-Rewriting empire: Eusebius of Caesarea and the First Christian History

Not all modules will be offered every year, and new modules (both elective and core) are added regularly. Students may also substitute modules offered in other departments, such as Theology, Philosophy, English, Archaeology, or History.

Learning and Teaching

The MA in Greece, Rome and the Near East is principally conceived as a research training programme 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 a module focused on the range of research methods and resources available to someone working in the field of Classics. This is run as a weekly class, with a mixture of lectures and student-led discussions. Four further elective modules deal with particular specialised subjects. Students must choose one module involving work with a relevant foreign language (ancient or modern), and one dealing directly with research on interaction between the ancient Mediterranean and the ancient Near East. All those offered will form part of the current research activity of the tutor taking the module. Numbers for each module are typically very small (there are rarely more than five 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.) All students write a 15,000-word dissertation, for which they receive an additional five hours of supervisory contact with an expert in their field of interest.

All staff teaching on the MA are available for consultation by students, and advertise office hours when their presence can be guaranteed. 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. MA students are strongly encouraged to attend the Department’s two research seminar series. Although not a formal (assessed) part of the MA, we aim to instil the message that engagement with these seminars across a range of subjects is part of the students’ development as researchers and ought to be viewed as essential to their programme. In addition, MA students are welcomed to attend and present at the ‘Junior Work-in-Progress’ seminar series organised by the PhD students in the Department. Finally, the student-run Classics Society regularly organises guest speakers – often very high-profile scholars from outside Durham.

Visit the Greece, Rome and the Near East (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

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