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Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA)

Course Description

Byzantine Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London have a long tradition. It was Professor Joan M. Hussey who first introduced and devised the study of Byzantine History in the University of London in 1950; throughout her long academic career she instilled ‘the principles of scholarship and demonstrated the perfect balance between historical detail and the wider implication of the subject’.

Her legacy was continued by Julian Chrysostomides, who taught the next generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and in 1987, together with Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith and Dr Athanasios Angelou, established the taught MA degree course in Byzantine Studies at Royal Holloway. This programme centred on the middle and later period of Byzantine history, placing particular emphasis on Byzantine sources and Greek Palaeography. This initiative was joined by King’s College London (KCL) under Professor Averil Cameron and Professor Charlotte Roueché, whose interests centred in Late Antiquity and early Byzantium; thus, the University of London federal MA course in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA LABS) took its original form.

Since October 2009 the MA LABS has been offered as part of the intercollegiate arrangements among Royal Holloway, King's College London and University College London (UCL). In choosing where to register, students should note that they will normally be expected to undertake their MA dissertation at their home College; they should therefore aim to register at the College where staff interests are closest to their own. The MA LABS at Royal Holloway is taught by members of staff of the Hellenic Institute, a research centre for the diachronic and interdisciplinary study of Hellenism, based in the History Department.

Since its establishment a large number of students have successfully pursued this MA course, the majority of whom continued their research on a doctoral level. Today graduates of the programme hold research and teaching posts in universities in Britain and abroad, testifying to its success in meeting its aims.

See the website https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/history/coursefinder/malateantiquebyzantinestudies.aspx

Why choose this course?

- The Hellenic Institute, established in 1993, brings together two areas of teaching and research in which Royal Holloway has long excelled: the study of the language, literature and history of Ancient Greece, based largely in the Department of Classics and Philosophy, but also in the Department of Drama and Theatre; and Byzantine Studies, which have always found a home in the Department of History. It aims to consolidate existing strengths and to extend them by promoting the study of the Hellenic tradition across the centuries from archaic and classical Greece, through the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period, to the modern world.

- We collaborate closely with other Colleges and research centres in the University of London, including the Institute of Classical Studies, the Institute of Historical Research and the Warburg Institute, as well as the British Library, Lambeth Palace Library and The Hellenic Centre, a cultural meeting place for the Greek community in London.

- We maintain links with universities overseas, especially in Greece and Cyprus. Scholars from the Universities of Athens, Ioannina and Cyprus regularly visit the Institute as part of collaborative research, offering their expertise to our students and members of staff.

- The Institute organises a range of lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops and other events for students, scholars and the wider public, giving the opportunity to engage with experts in the field.

- We receive funding in support of our activities from the Ministries of Culture and Education of the Hellenic Republic, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus, the A.G. Leventis Foundation, the Hellenic Foundation, the Orthodox Cultural Association (Athens), The Friends of the Hellenic Institute and private donors.

- The Institute offers a number of annual fees-only studentships, bursaries and other awards in support of its students.

Department research and industry highlights

Collaborative research includes:
- Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus
- Seminar on Editing Byzantine Texts
- Byzantine Autographs
- A Catalogue of the Greek Manuscript Collection of Lambeth Palace Library
- The Porphyrogenitus Project: Lexicon of Abbreviations and Ligatures in Greek
- Minuscule Hands, c.800-c.1600
- Lexicon of Terms used in Palaeography, Codicology and Diplomatics
- Triadic Monarchy: The Concept of Monarchy in the Triadology of the Greek Fathers -
- Ecclesiological Repercussions and the Monastic Model
- The Greek Population of Rhodes under Hospitaller Rule
- The Greek Community in London, 1500-1945.

On completion of the course graduates will have:

- a detailed knowledge and understanding of the methodologies of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, and their limitations

- an understanding of advanced, current research issues relevant to the discipline

- an awareness of the multiplicity of material available and the strengths and weaknesses of the various forms of historical information

- a general appreciation of the varied and interlinked methodologies for understanding antiquity and the medieval age

- the reading and understanding of ancient and medieval texts, both in print and in manuscript

- a grasp of literary criticism necessary for understanding and appreciating the style of ancient and medieval authors

- an awareness of the main forms of material available to those studying classical antiquity and the Byzantine world.


Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, written examinations and a dissertation.

Employability & career opportunities

Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, have entered many different areas, including careers as researchers and university lecturers, teachers in secondary education, librarians, archivists, book conservators, and editors of history journals. A number of our graduates hold teaching posts and research fellowships at the Universities of London, Cyprus, Patras and the Peloponnese, the Institute for Byzantine Research of the Hellenic National Research Foundation, and are employed by the Library of the Greek Parliament and the Department of Book Conservation of the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece.

The majority of our graduates pursue MPhil/PhD studies in the field of Byzantine Literature and History, and Greek Palaeography at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway and at other universities in Britain and abroad.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studyhere/postgraduate/applying/howtoapply.aspx .

Visit the Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (MA) page on the Royal Holloway, University of London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

UK Higher Second Class Honours degree (2:1) or equivalent. Research experience will also be considered. IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores.

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