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MA by Research

Study the Master's by Research in Classics and Ancient History, and choose from a wide range of specialist areas.

You can choose from two possible routes of study. Route A features a 40,000-word dissertation; Route B is a more flexible course, with a shorter dissertation of up to 25,000 words, two 5,000-word essays, and language training, designed to help you prepare for doctoral work.

Both are available to part-time and full-time students.

View our research specialisms

Route A

This version is most suited to students who have a clearly formulated plan for their research, and wish to be able to explore it in detail.

Assessment requirement

  • 40,000-word dissertation researched and written over 12 months (full-time) or 24 months (part-time).

Marking criteria

‘A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of a degree of Master shall be clearly and concisely written, show evidence of originality in knowledge and interpretation, and shall also be judged on its scholarly presentation. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography.

The thesis shall not exceed 40,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables, and bibliography.’

For recommendations available to examiners, see Section 5 of the university regulations.

Route B

General description

  • This version of the MA by research is designed to help students develop further skills and methodological training, and to explore ideas and new research areas, before embarking on their dissertation. This version of the MA involves formal linguistic training, two preparatory essays, and a dissertation of 25,000 words.
  • One of the essays will usually be on a methodological or theoretical topic, drawing where appropriate on the seminars which the Department offers as part of the research skills training for new PGR students.
  • The other essay will be on a background topic relevant to the dissertation, or on another area of interest, or it will consist of a translation and analysis of a text, if relevant to the research topic of the dissertation.
  • The choice of language (Latin or Greek) and second essay will be decided by students in consultation with their supervisors, in order to equip them for undertaking the dissertation and any future research.
  • For those working on a literary topic, a critical translation and commentary on a text may be offered as an alternative to an essay.
  • Students will be allowed to attend any Taught MA or UG modules which fit with their research interests.
  • The successful completion of language training will be undertaken via the submission of a language dossier, similar to that submitted as part of the department’s Taught MA programmes. It should consist of 3 passages relevant to the student’s dissertation research together with a translation and commentary. The passages should be formally approved by the student’s supervisor and may include literary texts and/or inscriptions. As with the Taught MA, the level of linguistic complexity to be tackled in the dossier will be adjusted to suit each student’s linguistic progression, with passages being chosen at one of the five levels of language instruction currently available in the department depending upon the student’s previous attainment, with each student expected to progress to the next level during their MA degree. The total length of each commentary will be between 500 and 750 words. Full references and bibliography are required (excluded from the word count). In the event of the dossier failing to reach an adequate standard, students will be able to resubmit a revised version of their dossier.


  • The two essays should be submitted by the end of the spring term (full-time) or by the end of the summer vacation (part-time).
  • The language dossier should be submitted by the end of the summer term (full-time) or by the end of the summer vacation (part-time).
  • The dissertation should be submitted according to the normal deadlines for MA by research.

Assessment requirement

  • 2 x 5,000-word essays
  • Dissertation of approx. 25,000 words
  • Language training in Latin or Greek (not assessed by examiners but a condition of gaining the degree). Language dossier, marked by two internal examiners.


  • Examiners will be chosen for each student on an individual basis and will read the complete dossier of work (essays and dissertation), marking it according to the published criteria. For the recommendations available to examiners, see Section 5 of the university regulations.
  • The essays will first be submitted according to deadlines set during the course of the year, and then they will be marked and returned by the supervisor. Students will then have the opportunity to revise the essays (receiving further feedback if necessary) before submitting them as part of the MA dossier.
  • Dissertations will be examined by internal and external examiners, marking according to current criteria. The internal examiner will be someone who has not acted as the student’s supervisor during the year.
  • Students are required to pass both essays and the language dossier, at a pass-mark of 50%. In case of a fail, students will be able to resubmit work once.

Key facts

Entry requirements: usually at least a high 2-1 or first-class undergraduate degree in a relevant subject area

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Qualification: MA by research

  • Course Code: P-Q8P1

Contact: Clare Rowan, Director of Graduate Studies