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Classical Archaeology (MA)

Course Description

This Master's degree is devoted to the advanced study of the archaeological, historical and cultural legacies of ancient Greece and Rome within their broader Mediterranean contexts. It will provide you with the skills required to retrieve and evaluate archaeological evidence and use the material culture of the classical period to enhance your understanding of ancient societies. This programme is ideal for anybody interested in the archaeology and history of the classical past who is preparing for doctoral or professional research, or specialist work in heritage management.

The programme starts with an exploration of the broad themes of classical archaeology, including methodological and interpretative approaches to the material past. While grounding you in theoretical approaches, the degree will also develop your practical skills with an optional fieldwork module that covers major techniques and approaches to excavation. Another focus is the contemporary debates on the reception and interpretation of classical history and culture, particularly the meanings that have been attached to antiquities. You will also develop a critical understanding of archaeological research that will enable you to go on to complete a dissertation on a subject of particular interest to you and, if you wish, pursue archaeological research at MPhil/PhD level, professionally or independently.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
This Master’s degree will allow you to follow your own interests, with a wide choice of option modules, while developing your research skills and undertaking a dissertation in an area that interests you.
We maintain close links with key institutions concerned with the study and conservation of classical cultural remains.
We are located 5 minutes' walk from the British Museum and the British Library, while the Museum of London is easily reachable. The Institute of Classical Studies and the Institute of Historical Research, the Institute of Archaeology and the Warburg Institute are all located in Bloomsbury, near the main Birkbeck campus. All 4 institutes have internationally renowned library collections and run seminars you can attend.
Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is ranked in the top 20 nationally and is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research.
Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, delivering stimulating teaching. You will be taught by specialists engaged in cutting-edge research in the archaeology, history and culture of the ancient Mediterranean.
The department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
Birkbeck Library has an extensive history collection, including the major specialist journals, and access to online materials.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked 6th in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.

Visit the Classical Archaeology (MA) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Alan Davey

3979.jpg Alan Davey, chief executive of the Arts Council, credits his studies at Birkbeck with making him think differently at work, and also widening his intellectual horizons.

Studying the MA in Classical Civilization part-time at Birkbeck was a revelation for Alan, and has helped him approach challenges in new ways as his career has gone from strength to strength.

Although Alan always yearned to study Classics, he studied English Language and Literature for his undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham. In 1995, when he was 34 and Head of Arts at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Alan decided to pursue his passion for Classics by enrolling at Birkbeck. He said: ‘Birkbeck has a strong reputation as a good place to study Classics because of its proper rigour in terms of scholarship and research.’

Alan found that the course at Birkbeck opened up new ways of thinking. He added: ‘After 10 years of working, I had got used to a sloppy way of conducting arguments. The course really did change my way of thinking. It gave me the tools to think differently and taught me methods of analysis that I hadn’t encountered before.’

Alan’s career continued to blossom. At the then Department of National Heritage, he designed the National Lottery – his proudest professional achievement because it raises money for good causes, including the arts, heritage and culture. He was Director for Culture at the DCMS from 2003 until 2006. In November 2007, Alan was appointed Chief Executive of the Arts Council, which champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. From 2011-15, the Arts Council will invest £1.4 billion of public money and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery in artistic projects.

As well as contributing to his professional thinking, Alan’s studies at Birkbeck widened his intellectual interests. He said: ‘The course opened up so many doors in my cultural hinterland. My dissertation was on the object of affection in Latin love poetry. I discovered all kinds of new things that I did not know existed. I discovered Hellenistic poetry – it was a huge revelation.’

Alan fondly recalled his experiences studying at Birkbeck. He added: ‘There was a sense of dedication and real purpose that I enjoyed. The staff were very generous in sharing their interests.’


Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarships - Fee Waiver - 2 Awards

Birkbeck College is pleased to announce the first call for Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarships, named in memory of one of the greatest historians of the last century. From 1947 until his death in 2012, Eric Hobsbawm was a loyal member of Birkbeck College.The Scholarships have been set up to encourage the next generation of talented historians to pursue original, high-quality and exciting research in history by assisting financially with study and research costs.Applicants are invited for two full fee-waiver scholarships for MA study in the department of History, Classics and Archaeology (£6,950). Overseas applicants and part-time applicants are welcome, as well as home/EU full-time applications (part-time awards are pro-rata).The Eric Hobsbawm Scholarships have been made possible thanks to many large and small donations from his friends and former students. Birkbeck College gratefully acknowledges the help and support of the Hobsbawm family.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Overseas applicants and part-time applicants are welcome, as well as home/EU full-time applications (part-time awards are pro-rata).

Application Procedure

Applicant for the MA fee-waiver scholarships must apply through the usual process for a place on the MA programme (see information elsewhere on this website). In addition, applicants are asked to submit two documents directly to the department:1) a one-page statement outlining what they hope to achieve by taking the MA programme, noting in particular what they hope to research for their dissertation2) a one-page personal statement that includes a basic CV, and a note on the applicant’s financial circumstances.

Further Information



School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Bursary - Single Award

Applications are invited for one 'Postgraduate Taught' Bursary worth £6,000, to be awarded to a candidate with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School's 'Postgraduate Taught' programmes.This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the departments listed below; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This £6,000 award is in the form of a bursary (i.e., there is no 'fee waiver' but the bursary may be used towards payment of fees). If awarded to a part-time student, the bursary will be paid for two years of PGT study.Please note that in order to apply for funding you must also complete an application for a place at Birkbeck on an MA/MSc programme within the School of SSHP or the MPhil. Stud. in the Department of Philosophy, either before or at the same time as applying for funding.Prospective studentsCandidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent.

Value of Scholarship(s)



This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This competition is open to new students only.

Application Procedure

Before you apply, you should contact the relevant department for advice.Once you have identified a relevant programme, you will need to:Apply online for the relevant MA/MSc or MPhil. Stud. (Dept. of Philosophy) degree in the normal wayDownload the SSHP Postgraduate Taught Bursary Application Form Word iconThe SSHP Studentship application form should be returned to Jane Halstead, Assistant School Manager, via the following email address:[email protected] STATE ‘PGT BURSARY’ AND DEPARTMENT APPLIED TO IN THE ‘SUBJECT’ LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL.Any queries relating to the PGT Bursary can also be sent to this email address.

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to have achieved a second-class honours BA. We also offer a 1-year Graduate Certificate in History , which can be used as a conversion course if you want to study at postgraduate level, but have a degree in a significantly different discipline. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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