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Ancient Philosophy (MA)

Course Description

This is a specialist programme geared towards preparing students for higher research in ancient philosophy - partly through direct research training, and partly through modules taught by experts in their field in small-group seminars. Durham has a longstanding tradition of international excellence in the field of ancient philosophy, with several recent doctoral students having gone on to take up academic positions in the UK and abroad. The programme lasts for one year (two years part-time), and centres around a core module on a topic in ancient philosophy.

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

For information on the structure of the course, please view our website: https://www.dur.ac.uk/courses/info/?id=9536&title=Ancient+Philosophy&code=Q8K707&type=MA&year=2016#coursecontent

Core Modules:
-Classical Research Methods and Resources
-Compulsory language module (Latin for research/Ancient Greek for research/another ancient language/modern language)
-Forms After Plato or Ancient Philosophers on Origins or Ancient Philosophers On Necessity, Fate and Free Will.

Optional Modules
In previous years, optional modules available included:
-Forms After Plato
-Latin Text Seminar
-Greek Text Seminar
-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 Caesara 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 be substitute modules offered in other departments such as Theology, Philosophy, English, Archaeology, or History.

Course Learning and Teaching

The MA in Ancient Philosophy 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 ancient philosophy. 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 Ancient Philosophy (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Student Profiles

Postgraduate Student Support Scholarships 2016 - 20+ Awards

Durham University is delighted to announce the introduction of 100 Postgraduate Taught Scholarships worth £3,000. The scholarships are open to applicants from currently under-represented groups within the postgraduate taught population.
The scholarships are intended to support students who may not have otherwise considered postgraduate education. This could be because of financial barriers, personal caring commitments or because an applicant is domiciled in an area where progression to postgraduate education is less common.
The majority of taught master’s programmes are eligible, except postgraduate diplomas, postgraduate certificates, MRes programmes, integrated masters and courses funded by other public bodies (e.g. PGCE).Applicants must meet the following criteria:1. Be progressing from an undergraduate course charged at the higher tuition fee rate of up to £9,000, introduced 2012/13;
2. Have a household income level of £42,620 or below, in the final year of undergraduate study either 2014/15 or 2015/16. (As assessed by Student Finance England or equivalent)
3. Studying full time or part time;
4. Domiciled in the UK or European Union (EU) (Classified as Home/EU for tuition fee purposes);
5. Do not already hold a masters level qualification;AND6. Be from a group that is evidentially under-represented within the institution’s taught master’s population (See indicators of under-representation).Indicators of under-representation:a) Resident in an area where higher education participation is amongst the lowest in the UK. The University will use the ACORN Classification and will base the assessment on the permanent address provided as part of your application for a postgraduate taught programme. Permanent address defined as the home address where the student normally lives when not at university, for example their parents’ home or marital home. ACORN categories 4 and 5 are deemed to be areas of low participation. If you are resident in an EU country we will look at the representation of your country within the University.b) Are classified as a Care Leaver. A “Care Leaver” is defined as someone who was in the looked after system on their 16th birthday.

c) Assessed as having a disability

Value of Scholarship(s)



Applicants must be resident in the UK or EU, not already hold an MA, and meet the following criteria:a. Have completed an undergraduate course at a UK university for which they were charged the higher tuition fee rate of up to £9000.
b. Have a household income in their final year of undergraduate study (as assessed by Student Finance England) of below £42,620.
c. Be from a group currently under-represented in the postgraduate population at Durham (resident in an ACORN 4 or 5 area OR a care leaver OR assessed as having a disability).

Application Procedure

Prospective applicants must: Stage 1: have submitted an academic application to Durham University. Stage 2: submit an online scholarship application form, available at the webpages at the link below.Deadline: 31 July 2016

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good second class honours degree in a relevant subject (typically 2:1 honours) or international equivalent (e.g. USA 3.3 g.p.a.; Greek 6.5 / Lian Kalos). Since all postgraduate degrees are meant to build on your undergraduate work, we ask for a previous degree in a 'relevant' subject. For the MA programme in Ancient Philosophy you must have studied this field at the highest level of your undergraduate course.

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