This one-year, research-based postgraduate course in oratory and rhetoric combines both ancient and modern fields of research. It is designed equally for students with a background in classics, in other humanities disciplines, and in other subjects including law and social science. The programme offers preparation not only for advanced research at PhD level but also for a wide range of other careers in which oral and written communication are important, such as the media, the legal profession, politics and public relations.
It is taught by members of the Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric in the Royal Holloway Classics Department, where there is a strong concentration of expertise in classical rhetoric and oratory. It offers opportunities for collaborative work with other RHUL departments. The programme includes a core course on Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric, incorporating training in a range of analytical and scholarly research skills. A wide range of optional courses is available (including courses offered by other London institutions) and there are opportunities to pursue independent projects in any aspect of ancient or modern oratory and rhetoric, either as a self-contained package (for the PGCert and PGDip) or as a preparation for embarking on a substantial piece of research work for the MRes dissertation. The MRes can be taken as a self-standing qualification or as a preparation for a PhD, while the programme as a whole offers valuable transferable skills for non-academic careers and for continuous professional development.
- The only course of its kind in a major UK university
- Combination of analytical and historical perspective
- Enhances ability to construct and present persuasive argumentation, as well as analysing and evaluating that presented by others
- Wide choice of taught courses, independent projects and dissertation topics
- Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric – a concentration of scholarly expertise and a magnet for visiting experts from abroad
- Access to world-class research resources in Classics and related disciplines in and around London
Course content and structure
The course contains five elements with credit values as shown below.
1. Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric (core course incorporating research methods: 40 credits)
2. EITHER: Oratory and Identity (40 credits) OR: An optional course or courses to the value of 40 credits to be chosen from a list of courses offered by the Department, or by another department at Royal Holloway, or by other London institutions as part of the Intercollegiate MA programmes in Classics, Ancient History, or Late Antique and Byzantine Studies.
3. Independent Project 1 (20 credits): e.g. a ‘pilot’ study of an area to be covered in more detail in the dissertation, a critical survey of scholarly literature on a relevant topic, a rhetorical analysis of a text, or a comparative rhetorical study of texts from different traditions, cultures or periods.
4 . Independent Project 2 (20 credits): similar in scope to Project 1 but may also be a more creative type of project, e.g. a piece of original rhetorical composition, a reconstrution of the performance of a historical speech, or similar. Supporting audi-visual materials may be submitted as part of the project.
5. Dissertation (60 credits): a substantial piece of independent research on a topic in either ancient or modern oratory and rhetoric.
Students for the MRes take all five elements as shown above. Students for the PGDip take elements 1, 2, 3, and 4. Students for the PGCert take element 1 and at least one of elements 2, 3 or 4.
On completion of the course graduates will have: - an advanced knowledge of the foundations of rhetorical theory and practice
- an appreciation of the history of rhetorical theory and practice in the European tradition from Classical antiquity to modern times
- an appreciation of the applicability of rhetorical approaches to the study of communication in the modern world
- knowledge and understanding of such other areas of language, literature, history, politics, culture, or ideas as may be appropriate in order to pursue the chosen research project(s) to an advanced level
- the acquisition of appropriate knowledge of advanced scholarship in the chosen area(s).
- the ability to understand and analyse concepts relating to rhetorical theory and practice
- the ability to engage critically and at an advanced level in rhetorical analysis of texts (e.g. argumentation, character-projection, emotional strategies, structure, use of language)
- the ability to engage in the study of rhetoric and communication as historical and/or contemporary phenomena in human societies
- the ability to conduct research independently at an advanced level
- the ability to articulate and present arguments at an advanced level with clarity and persuasiveness
- the ability to engage in debate on scholarly issues, respecting the views of other participants
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including principally coursework essays, independent projects, and a dissertation.
Employability & career opportunities
The MRes course is a new course and is designed to equip you with skills of research, analysis, critical thought and communication which will be valuable in a wide range of careers, as well as providing a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.
Graduates from the Classics Department are highly employable and, in recent years, have entered many different areas, including careers in law, the media, politics, advertising, business, and the armed forces, as well as school and university teaching. We have also attracted mature students from a wide variety of previous careers.