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Course Content

Course content

The end of classical antiquity in the Mediterranean and the Middle East witnessed the formation of polities, institutions and ideologies which define and continue to influence our world to the present day.

By combining a diverse, yet cognate range of research interests, this programme offers an exceptional selection of linguistic and disciplinary expertise in the study of the late antique, Islamic and Byzantine worlds, embracing archaeology, art history, history, languages and literatures, and auxiliary disciplines such as palaeography, numismatics, and sigillography. It presently provides training in the following source languages: Greek, Latin, Arabic, and/or Hebrew.

This programme provides you with excellent preparation for graduate research in historical, archaeological, literary or art-historical topics focusing on the Mediterranean and western Asia from late antiquity into the early middle ages.

You will have access to the expertise of academics who are all passionate about their area of study. Drawn from several schools across the University and brought together in the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the team comprises specialists in the various branches of late antique, Islamic and Byzantine studies.

Programme structure

The MSc comprises seminars, language classes and tutorials, which will include seminar discussion and debate, presentation to peers, directed and independent reading, as well as interactive language teaching. You will complete one compulsory course and select a further two language courses and an additional three options from a wide range on offer.

The compulsory course is:

  • Approaches to the Long Late Antiquity.

Option courses previously offered include those listed below. Option courses change from year to year and those available when you start your studies may be different from those shown in the list:

  • Elementary Greek (PG) 1 and Elementary Greek (PG) 2
  • Intermediate Greek (PG) 1 and Intermediate Greek (PG) 2
  • Elementary Latin (PG) 1 and Elementary Latin (PG) 2
  • Intermediate Latin (PG) 1 and Intermediate Latin (PG) 2
  • Arabic 1A and Arabic 1B for MSc LAIBS
  • Byzantine Archaeology: The archaeology of the Byzantine empire and its neighbours AD 500-850.
  • Archaeology of the Roman Economy
  • Mosques, Palaces and Gardens in the Golden Age of Islam
  • Mystical Islam
  • The Qur'an - Islam's Holy Book
  • A Topic in Late Antique and Byzantine History, e.g.: Popular Culture in Late Antiquity; The Mediterranean in the Fifth Century; Centre and Periphery in the Age of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos
  • Constantinople: The History of a Medieval Megalopolis from Constantine the Great to Süleyman the Magnificent
  • Topics in Byzantine Literary History
  • Debating Marriage between Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Latin Text Seminar
  • Greek Text Seminar
  • Byzantine Text Seminar
  • Greek Palaeography
  • The Latin Manuscript

Learning outcomes

The programme emphasises acquisition of essential language skills for original research and close work with key historical and/or literary sources of evidence and grounding in the issues surrounding them.

You will gain an appreciation of the associated material cultures, including issues surrounding its recovery, survival and curation, which will prepare you for future academic research and prospective careers in aspects of museums and heritage management.

Career opportunities

Our students view the programme and a graduate degree from Edinburgh as an advanced qualification valued and respected by many employers. Those interested in long-term academic careers consider the MSc as preparation for a PhD.

The MSc provides a toolkit of transferable skills in organisation, research and analysis that will be highly prized in any field of work. It can form a stepping stone to many careers, such as further academic research, museum and art curation, literary translation or analysis, education or public heritage. Graduates of related programmes are putting their skills to use as tutors, archivists, writers and conference coordinators for employers including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).


Visit the Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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