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MAHellenic Studies

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The MA in Hellenic Studies enables students to develop their knowledge and appreciation of Greek history and culture, from the Homeric and Classical age, through the Hellenistic and Roman times, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period to the modern world. It is suitable for students from a wide range of different discipline and ideal if you are interested in progressing to doctoral research in Greek History and Culture. It can also lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and cultural sectors.

Through your studies you will examine the elements which characterise Hellenic culture through the centuries, at the same time acquiring a deeper knowledge of a certain period and discipline, including philosophy, history, law, religion, theatre, language, literature, epigraphy, papyrology and palaeography.

You will be taught by experts from the College’s Hellenic Institute, a research centre for the diachronic and interdisciplinary study of Hellenism. The Hellenic Institute brings together teaching and research on the language, literature and history of Ancient Greece from across the College. It promotes the study of Greek language, literature and history, from the archaic and classical age, through the Hellenistic and Roman times, Byzantium and the Post-Byzantine period, to the establishment of the Modern Greek State and the modern world.

Programme structure

Core modules
The Hellenic Tradition
In this module you will develop an understanding of the Hellenic tradition as it developed over the centuries, from Homer and Classical Antiquity, through the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world of Late Antiquity, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period, to the modern world. You will examine Helleic ideas and ideals as expressed in philosophy and literature, law and religion, art and architecture. You will look Greek paideia, considering the ways in which different generations have interpreted Greek culture, and analyse different levels of historical and literatery intrepretation of the Greeks and their relevance.

You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervsior, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length.

Optional modules
In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Greek Law and Lawcourts
Our main evidence for the Athenian democracy in the fourth century are the speeches composed for delivery in court. At the same time, the speeches also offer a unique insight into Athenian social relations and social values through the stories told by individual litigants to their audiences consisting of large number of ordinary citizens who were serving as judges. This module offers an opportunity to study the ways in which the lives of the inhabitants of late fifth and fourth century Athens – citizens, resident aliens, and slaves – were regulated by the city’s laws, and equally important how this normative framework could manipulated and sometimes even subverted by members of the community. The module will also offer an introduction to classical Athenian rhetoric, and the seminars will focus on the rhetorical strategies adopted by Athenian litigants in a wide variety of contexts. A broad range of Athenian lawcourt speeches in translation will be complemented by the study of texts (also in translation) by Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes.

Elementary Greek Palaeography
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe texts from facsimiles of Greek manuscripts from the Byzantine period. You will examine different styles of text, considering the layout and script, and learn how to date Greek manuscripts and place them in the cultural milieu in which they were produced.

Greek Palaeography
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to transcribe texts from facisimiles of Greek papyri and manuscripts. You will look at the developments between the third century BC and the ninth century AD, including the transition from roll to codex form. You will consider the developments of the Byzantine minuscule up to the 15th century, including the production of the first fonts for printed Greek. You will examine the transmission of classical literature and the cultural history of both classical antiquity and the Byzantine era.

Greek Hands of the Palaeologan Period – 13th to 15th Century
In thid module you will develop an understanding of the political and cultural changes as reflected in the various hands and styles of the Palaeologan period. You will look at changes in the Byzantine Empire following the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 and the recapture of the City by Michael VIII Palaeologus in 1261 until its fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, examining how these are reflected in the various Greek literary, documentary and scholarly hands. You will consider the theological dialogue between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians that culminated in the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1439) as attested in Greek manuscripts, and analyse the role of Greek scholars and scribes in Byzantium and Western Europe in the translation of Latin texts and the transmission of classical Greek texts during the Renaissance.

Byzantine Autographs of the Palaeologan Period – 13th to 15th century
In this module you will develop an understanding of how Byzantine autograph manuscripts of distinguished Byzantine scholars and teachers provide evidence for the use of both calligraphic and personal scripts. You will examine the surviving Byzantine autographs dated between the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 and the fall of the City to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and consider the political and cultural changes in the Byzantine Empire in this period as reflected in various literary, documentary and scholarly hands. You will also look at the transmission of classical Greek texts to the West and the Byzantine interest in Latin literature and theology, including the role of Byzantine scholars as translators.

Byzantium and The First Crusade
In this module you will develop an understanding of the response of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire to the First Crusade and to the establishment of the Latin East. You will look at the background of the empire as it was in the middle of the eleventh century, its relations with the Latin West and the accession and reign of Alexios I Komnenos from 1081 to 1118. You will examine the lead-up to and events of the crusade considering a range of Byzantine and Western source materials in translation in order to determine how the Byzantines viewed the crusaders, including what they considered their aims to be, what policies they adopted towards them, and what mistakes were made in dealing with this unprecedented phenomenon.

Byzantium and the Fourth Crusade
In this module you will develop an understanding of the events surrounding the capture and sacking of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine empire, in April 1204. Starting in 1180, you will look at events in context of relations between the Byzantines and previous crusades and assess how key developments such as the usurpation of Andronicus I, the Third Crusade, and the empire’s internal weakness contributed to its ultimate downfall. You will examine the events of 1198 to 1204, considering accounts left by contemporaries and eyewitnesses (both Byzantine and Western) and why an expedition that set out with the intention of recovering Jerusalem from Islam ended up pillaging the greatest city in the Christian world.

Homer (in Greek)

Greek Lyric Poetry

Four Greek Plays

Attacking the theatre

Defending the theatre

The Ancient Novel (in translation)

Dialogues of Plato

Sources and Methods in Ancient History

Territory and Identity in Ancient Greece

The Aegean from the First Farmers to Minoan States

The Late Bronze Age Aegean

The Economic and Social History of Archaic and Classical Greece

Greek Religion in a Mediterranean Society

Studying Ancient Myth


City of Rome

The City of Rome (British School at Rome Annual Postgraduate Course)

Greek pottery and painting

Ancient mosaics: making and meaning

Living in Byzantium: Material culture and built environment (ca. AD 300-1500)

Alexander’s Afterlife

Ancient Greek Theatre and its Reception

Approaches to the Reception of the Classical World

Greeks & Jews

The reign of Constantine I

Career opportunities

The MA in Hellenic Studies at Royal Holloway enables students to develop strong presentation and negation skills, along with analytical and research skills, which makes them highly employable and can lead to careers in education, journalism, finance, politics and cultural. A considerable number of graduates continue research on a doctoral level in the field of Greek History and Culture at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway and at other universities in Britain and abroad.

Our Careers team will work with you to enhance your employability and prepare you for the choices ahead. Their support doesn’t end when you graduate; you can access the service for up to two years after graduation.

Apply now! Fall semester 2020/21
This intake is not applicable

We are currently NOT ACCEPTING applications from NON-EU countries, except Georgia and Serbia.

Studies commence
Oct 1, 2020

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States