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Level 7

UCL MA modules



Latin for Research 1

Dr Matthew Hiscock (UCL)

Description: An introduction to the Latin language for complete beginners, designed to bring them to a point where they can read simple texts in Latin. The set texts: P.V. Jones and K.C. Sidwell Reading Latin (Cambridge University Press). The module comprises two volumes, one subtitled Text, the other Grammar, Vocabulary and Exercises.

Assessment: will be by two in-class one-hour tests in December and March (making up 25% of the grade) and one three-hour written examination (75%).

Introduction to Mycenaean Greek

Dr Stephen Colvin (UCL)

Description: An introduction to Mycenaean Greek, including a basic review of Greek historical phonology and morphology. This module introduces the language, script and history of the Linear B tablets from Bronze Age Greece: in order to do this effectively it also serves as a basic introduction to Greek historical phonology and morphology. By extension, this will include an introduction to Indo-European studies. A selection of Linear B texts will be studied, with attention to social, historical and archaeological context: core topics will include the history of writing in the ancient Aegean and the graphic representation of Greek; the dialectal affiliations of Mycenaean and Homeric Greek; and the evidence of the tablets for the history of the Greek language. Students will need J.T. Hooker Linear B: an Introduction (Bristol 1980)

Assessment: Completed weekly assignments, and a project (essay) of 4000 words, and a detailed commentary on a text (each carrying one third of the marks).


Greek drama 1: Comedy, genre and intertextuality

Professor Chris Carey

Description: This dedicated MA course will be devoted to Athenian comedy of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE in its theatrical and literary context. It will be based on close reading of two classic comedies in the original Greek. Set texts will be Aristophanes’ Frogs and Menander’s Arbitration. Topics considered will include genre boundaries and their exploration and manipulation, style, interpretation, textual transmission, dramaturgy, staging, metre, and social, political and religious context.

Assessment: One essay of 4-5,000 words.

Greek drama 2: House of Atreus

Professor Miriam Leonard

Description: This dedicated MA course will be devoted to Athenian tragedy of the fifth century BCE. It will be based on close reading of two tragedies in the original Greek. Set texts will be Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Euripides’ Orestes. Topics considered will include, style, interpretation, textual transmission, dramaturgy, intertextuality, staging, metre, and social, political and religious context.

Assessment: One essay of 4-5,000 words.

Four Greek Plays (Not Offered 2012-13)

Professor Chris Carey (UCL), Dr Laura Swift (UCL), Dr Emmanuela Bakola (UCL)

Description: A study of three Greek tragedies and one Greek comedy in the original language. Topics considered will include style, interpretation, textual transmission, dramaturgy, staging, metre, and social, political and religious context.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each, and one detailed commentary on the original text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks).

Greek Papyrology (CLASGG03)

Dr Nick Gonis

Description: This module aims to introduce participants to the study of Greek papyri, documentary as well as literary, and to offer training in editing them. Each class will focus on a small number of texts, one or two of which will be studied in detail on a photograph. The texts are chosen to illustrate the development of Greek cursive scripts and bookhands; to examine formal aspects of the transmission of Greek literature on papyrus; and to give an idea of the range of documentary types available as sources for the history of Egypt from the age of the Ptolemies to late antiquity. A good knowledge of Greek is essential.

Assessment: Two written assignments. 


Professor Chris Carey (UCL) and Dr Rosie Harman (UCL)

Description: This dedicated MA module will explore one of the key texts of ancient Greek historiography and literature. It will be based on close reading (linguistic, literary, narratological, historical) of two of the nine books of Herodotus' Histories in Greek. The first term will be devoted to book 7 and will be led by Chris Carey; the second term will be devoted to book 8 and will be led by Rosie Harman.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each and one detailed commentary on the original Greek text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks). 


Dr Matthew Robinson & Dr Fiachra Mac Góráin (UCL)

Description: This module will examine the poetry of Ovid, from his earliest works to the exile poetry. We will be looking not only at famous poems like the Metamorphoses and the Amores but also at lesser known but equally fascinating works like the Fasti and the Tristia. The poems will be placed in their social, historical and literary context. Topics that may be addressed include genre, narrative technique, style, allusion, humour, Ovid's attitude towards Augustus, and the subsequent influence and reception of Ovid's poetry.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each, and one detailed commentary on the original text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks).

Cicero: Rhetoric and Politics (Not Offered 2012-13)

Professor Gesine Manuwald (UCL)

This course will provide an introduction to Cicero the politician and orator as well a to key elements in the history and political life of the Roman Republic, by a close look at Cicero’s writings referring to his consular year. The course will focus on reading (in the original Latin) the two corpora of Cicero’s Agrarian Speeches and Catilinarian Orations (over the two terms), paying particular attention to his argument and political strategy and their adaptation in speeches on similar topics given before different bodies. There will be supplementary reading in English of some of Cicero’s letters, of excerpts from other speeches and of references to Cicero’s epic about his consulship. This will allow for discussion of issues such as aims and methods of Cicero’s shaping of his consular persona, his presentation of ‘historical facts’, his view of the Roman res publica or the possible reasons for the publication of these speeches and their later collection in a corpus.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment:One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

Assessment: Two essays and one commentary of c. 4,000 words each.


Professor Gesine Manuwald (UCL) and Dr Fiachra Mac Góráin (UCL)

Description: This course will involve in-depth study of Virgil's three major works, the Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid.  Particular attention will be devoted to the poems' historical context and their relationship with contemporary political régimes.  We shall examine Virgil's creative engagement with his poetic and prose models in light of a range of theoretical perspectives. Specific topics will include form and content, gender and genre, ecphrasis and narrative technique, aetiology and national identity, characterization and the reception of Virgil.  Participants will be asked to read selections in Latin before each meeting, and also to read other passages in translation and from the scholarship.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.
: Two essays and one commentary of c. 4,000 words each.


Change and Continuity in the Ancient Near East

Dr Karen Radner (UCL)

Description: The module focuses on the period c. 800-128 BC, covering the Neo-Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid and Seleucid empires. The aim is to analyse structural shifts and continuities, by examining the states in their Near Eastern setting. Throughout the emphasis is on critical evaluation of a diverse corpus of evidence and assessment of relevant scholarly literature.
Relevant languages: ancient - Greek, Akkadian, Old Persian, Aramaic, Egyptian, Hebrew; modern - French, German.

Assessment is by five pieces of written work, totalling c. 10,000 words.

The Attalid Kingdom

Dr Riet Van Bremen (UCL)

Description: This course will look at all aspects of this extraordinarily successful dynasty, from diplomacy and monetary policy to art and literature. It will study the early phases of Attalid rule: expansion in the Troad, Mysia and Aeolis; relations with cities in Asia Minor and with mainland Greece (patronage of sanctuaries), and will ask questions about the hybrid city that was Pergamon. Exciting new epigraphic documents throw new light on many of these issues, as do the continuing excavation of the city of Pergamon and the survey of its territory; as well as the newly started excavations at Elaia (the port of the Attalid kings). Attalid control over central Asia Minor and the dynasty’s financial and fiscal policies are becoming better documented and understood.

    Students will study all facets of this subject through a wide range of primary sources, and will be exposed to different techniques and traditions, learning to use and understand how to build a historical argument using coinage, inscriptions, architecture, art, site reports and topographical studies.

Assessment: Two essays of approximately 4000 words each.

The Achaemenid and Seleucid empires

Description:  TBC

Assessment: TBC

Propaganda & Ideology in Republican Rome

Description:  TBC

Assessment: TBC

Later Roman World from Diocletian to Heraclitus

Description:  TBC

Assessment: TBC

Economic & Social History of Archaic & Classical Greece

Description:  TBC

Assessment: TBC

Codes and Practice: The World of Roman Law from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Drs Simon Corcoran and Benet Salway (UCL)

Description: As the inspiration for the Civil Law codes of modern Europe, the body of Roman law as received and studied in western Europe since the later Middle Ages gives the impression of a stable and static system. This course aims to provide students with an introduction to the shape of the living body of Roman law from classical antiquity to the early Middle Ages and the historical issues that raises. For in fact, of course, the classic texts of Roman law developed over a millennium or more in response to changing social and political environments as the society to which they related developed from a modest central Italian city republic into an imperial superstate before setting out on divergent paths in the aftermath of the fall of the western empire. This course charts the relationship between the production of normative texts, legal interpretation, and legal practice against this shifting social and political background. At various junctures the development of this legal system was punctuated by attempts to codify certain sections.  The core of this course comprises the analysis of the surviving or partially surviving codifications (e.g. the Theodosian and Justinianic Codes, the Breviarium of Alaric, and the Digest) as well as those reconstructed from later sources (e.g. the XII Tables and the Edictum Perpetuum) against their historical context so as to expose students to the full complexity of the texture of the source material.  Interspersed are sessions analysing the actual practice and social impact of Roman law based on specific case studies. It is very desirable for students to have or to develop quickly a working knowledge of Latin. Desirable also is some basic reading knowledge of (Ancient) Greek, Italian, French, and German.

Assessment: This course is assessed entirely by coursework. Each student is required to submit two essays of around 4,000 words each (to a total of 8,000 words overall), on topics negotiated individually and agreed with the course teacher(s).  For example, students might wish to write essays on topics that they researched for class presentations.

Medieval Manuscripts and Documents

Prof. David D'Avray & Dr Marigold Norbye (UCL)

Note: It is extremely unlikely that there will be any room on this course for any non-MA Medieval Studies students.

Description: This course is taught in the History Department, though palaeography courses elsewhere in the university will be available to students and the examination will be designed to give credit to students who have profited from them. The first aim of the course is to teach students how to read manuscript books and documents. It also provides introductory training in the description and dating of manuscript books, in textual criticism, and in the methods and concepts of 'diplomatic'. Students capable of more advanced work in any of these areas will be given the opportunity to do it. They will be encouraged to use the collections of medieval manuscripts and documents in London, which has a concentration unrivalled in the English-speaking world. Students will normally have an opportunity to study directly and in detail a manuscript or manuscripts in the British Library. These manuscripts will be tailored to the personal research interests of individual students. The best pieces of work may be published in the /Electronic British Library Journal/. Technical training will be set in the context of the cultural history of writing in the medieval West.

Any student having no prior knowledge of Latin is required to attend the Latin for Beginners course. Students are required to complete written course work that does not constitute part of the course assessment.

Assessment: One 5,000-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour unseen examination paper (50%).

Identity and Power in the Middle Ages AD 500-1300

Dr Antonio Sennis (UCL)

Description: Who are we? Where do we come from? For which reasons and by which means do we define our common identity? And who are they and where do they come from? Ar we better than them? Have we got an original character that demonstrates we are better? Can we evoke the past in order to certify the present? These questions are at the same time so old and so dramatically up to date. The course will draw on various types of written sources (narratives, charters, poetry, epigraphy) and material evidence (coins, monuments, luxury objects) in order to explain how the shaping of an ethnic identity contributed to the construction of political, social and economic entities in medieval Europe.

The main issues explored during the course are: how the different barbarian peoples were considered and described by Roman writers; how the various barbarian elites recounted their peoples’ origins, the myths they used and how much they owed to those Roman narratives; what ethnic identity had to do with the relationship between rulers and population; how it contributed to the construction of political bodies; if religion was ever used as a tool to claim ethnic identity or to express political opposition; the extent to which we are able to understand the relationship between ethnic identity, kingship, court historiography and progress of territorial power in medieval Europe; how we can use this evidence to see how European societies changed the further they went from Roman times.

Some knowledge of Latin (which may be gained through courses offered as part of the MA in Medieval Studies) would help. A knowledge of at least one of the following modern European languages (Italian, French, Spanish or German) would help students to broaden the range of available reading material.
Assessment: Two essays totalling 8,000 words (MDVLGH03)

The Medieval Papacy

Prof. David d’Avray (UCL)

Description: As the Victorian Protestant historian Macaulay wrote in his purple prose, 'That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains.' It is true that only the papacy, among medieval governments, had a continuous history throughout the whole period, affected every part of Europe, and remains a major factor in world history. This course aims to uncover some of the long-term structures that developed in late antiquity, acquired enormous strength in the central medieval period, underwent tremendous strain in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, and survived to play a global role. The methodology combines longue durée analysis in the Annales tradition with frameworks of interpretation borrowed from Social Anthropology. Students without Latin are admitted to the course on the understanding that they are taking intensive Beginners Latin and will be capable of working with texts in the original by the end of the second term.
Assessment: one 4,000 word essay (50%) and a three hour examination (50%)

Places of Learning in the Medieval Latin West 

Dr Johanne Cornelia Linde (UCL)

Description: The two-term course will cover the period from the sixth and seventh century, when Irish and English monasteries brought forth such influential personalities as St Columbanus and the Venerable Bede, via the court of Charlemagne, the Toledo school of translators, and the rise of the universities, to the Council of Vienne in 1312, which set up chairs of Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Greek at select universities. The course discusses modes of teaching and changing curricula; the influence of politics and religious institutions on education; and the effect of economic and social developments. It also examines medieval manuscripts produced for and used in schools and universities. The Autumn Term course (MDVLGH06A) covers the period from Irish and English monasticism in the sixth and seventh century to the development of scholasticism. Sessions will cover the role of Latin; the so-called renaissance of the Carolingian period; the cultural impact of contacts with Jewish and Muslim scholars on Latin scholars; the translations produced in especially Toledo and Sicily. The Spring Term course (MDVLGH06B) examines the rise of the universities in Europe and finishes with a discussion of the Council of Vienne (1311-1312). Among other topics, we will discuss the origins and organisation of medieval universities and look in more detail at the law school of Bologna, Paris and the school of medicine at Salerno.
Assessment: two essays of 4,000 words each.


Approaches to Reception of the Classical World

Dr Matthew Hiscock (UCL)

This module will be taught by a combination of lectures, seminars and research visits to relevant institutions, such as the British Museum, Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, British Film Institute and Sir John Soane Museum.  The core module is intended to provide training in research techniques and resources for postgraduate study in the reception of antiquity, and to introduce students to relevant methods and theories of classical reception studies, as well as offering an overview of different kinds of reception in practice.

Assessment will be two coursework essays of 4,000 words each. For students on the MA in Reception of the Classical World there will also be an oral dissertation presentation.

Ancient Rome on Film

Professor Maria Wyke (UCL)

How does cinema reconstruct Roman history? What distinguishes cinematic histories of Rome from conventional scholarship? The option will introduce students to the relevant critical vocabulary of reception studies and film analysis, and engage with issues of sources, narrative, spectacle, contemporaneity, commodification, and spectatorship. Through study of a variety of Italian and American representations of ancient Rome, students will explore changes and developments in Rome’s cinematic historiography from its beginnings to the Second World War. The module will then explore a variety of post-war Hollywood ‘blockbusters’ and the decline of the genre in the 1960s. It will conclude with examination of variations from and challenges to the classical Hollywood style of representing Rome, and with consideration of the disappearance of such reconstructions in the 1960s and their re-emergence in the 21st century.

Assessment will be by 3 essays of 4,000 words.


The UCL Institute of Archaeology offers a range of related modules in archaeology which can be studied as part of your MA degree.  These listed have been pre-approved for the Intercollegiate MA programmes:

  • Rethinking Classical Art: Sociological and Anthropological Approaches  - Jeremy Tanner: InstArch
  • The Aegean from the First Farmers to Minoan States (half module) - Cyprian Broodbank: InstArch 
  • The Late Bronze Age Aegean (half module) - Cyprian Broodbank: InstArch    
  • The Mediterranean world in the Iron Age (half module) - Corinna Riva: InstArch 
  • The Near East from Later Prehistory to the End of the Iron Age (half module) - Karen Wright: InstArch
  • The Archaeology of Early Egypt and Sudan (c. 10,000 – 2500 BC)  (half module) - David Wengrow: InstArch
  • Ancient Italy in the Mediterranean (half module) - Corinna Riva: InstArch

Fuller details of Institute of Archaeology modules can be found on the web at:

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