MPhil in Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature | University of Oxford
Latin book
A book of Latin literature
(Image Credit: Bodleian Library)

MPhil in Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature

About the course

The MPhil in Greek and/or Latin Literature is a 21-month taught graduate course that can be used as a route to the DPhil, if then followed by two years of doctoral study. Applicants for the MPhil wishing to enter doctoral programmes elsewhere after their master's degree at Oxford are also welcomed.

The majority of students take the shorter MSt, which the faculty recommends as the default master's choice in Greek and/or Latin languages and literature. However, the MPhil is often taken by two groups of students and designed with them in mind: those who feel that they would benefit from two more years of taught education in Classics before embarking on a doctorate; and those who have a clear idea of the topic that they hope to research eventually for their doctorate, and who wish to start extensive work on this topic already in their master's dissertation.

Nearly all students take the course as preparation for a research degree, and for such students it might offer, for instance, linguistic training; the opportunity to become acquainted with an ancillary discipline such as papyrology; engagement with a particular author's texts at a deeper level; and/or textual criticism of Greek and/or Latin; or, reception studies. The MPhil also offers, through an obligatory dissertation, the first steps in actual research and the extended presentation of a scholarly argument.

You will study three options: a thesis and any two options from lists A and B. You will study one option in your first year and the other in your second year, and will work on your thesis across both years.

List A comprises major literary texts and genres - for example, historiography, lyric poetry, Cicero, Ovid. You may also propose your own text or genre option, for approval by the Graduate Studies Committee. The core of the teaching for these options is a series of, typically fortnightly, one-on-one sessions with a tutor. Examination is by means of three submitted essays of up to 7,500 words and a paper of translation and comment. 

List B comprises more technical subjects such as the textual criticism of Greek or Latin texts, papyrology, comparative philology and reception. These options are delivered in a variety of ways, often by (typically weekly) classes. Assessment is by exam or pre-submitted work or a combination of the two. Intermediate Ancient Greek or Latin may be taken if you have not studied both languages to a high level in the course of your first degree.

Your thesis can be up to a maximum of 25,000 words. The subject has to be devised in consultation with your supervisor and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, and must be submitted by the sixth week of the Trinity term of your second year.

There is the possibility to specialise in reception across the course by choosing the Reception module option and working on reception topics in a text/genre option, though you will still sit a translation exam as detailed below.

As an MPhil student you are assigned a supervisor, who provides overall direction for your course, and with whom you have regular meetings. Your supervisor will arrange tutors for you for each option. You will have considerable input yourself in shaping and driving your studies. 

All MPhil students have the opportunity to attend a wide range of lectures, seminars and talks by visiting speakers. In their first year, they also attend a class on research techniques in Classical literature, extending over two terms: this includes in the first term units on topics such as the history of classical scholarship and on research resources, as well as on various aspects of literary theory. In the second term considerable attention is paid to presentational skills, as students deliver papers of their own to the group.

Graduate destinations

Most MPhil graduates go on to take doctorates, either in Oxford or elsewhere. Many subsequently take up university teaching or research posts after finishing their doctorates. Those who do not take doctorates go into a variety of occupations, including teaching, publishing, administration, business and other professions.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in Classics or a similar course of academic study with substantial course components in the area of Classics. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Degree-level competence in at least one ancient language is a requirement for admission.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Publications

Publications are not required.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Faculty of Classics to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Classics and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Classics.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

Oxford has academic resources among the best in the world for Classical languages and literature. The Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies offers various facilities for graduate students including many workstations, PCs, printing and scanning facilities, a common room and a reading room. Seminar talks by visiting speakers and many other academic activities take place in the centre. It is also the base for the various research projects based in the faculty

The faculty is fortunate in having two world-class research libraries close at hand, the Bodleian and the Sackler Library. The Sackler Library is an open-shelf lending library indispensable to anyone studying ancient history, archaeology and art; it is also extremely useful to those studying literature or philology.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise, the faculty presented the largest number of academics in UK Classics (71). 47% of the submission was rated 4* (world-leading) and 34% 3* (internationally excellent), giving the faculty by far the highest quantity of 4* or 3* research in UK Classics.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of awards are available from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) each year, to support graduate students in a range of disciplines. To be considered for any of these studentships you must apply before the January admissions deadline.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£6,745£3,021£9,766
Overseas£18,080£3,021£21,101

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are encouraged to communicate with the faculty before you apply to discuss the course content, teaching, assessment and to answer any questions. You are also encouraged to approach specific supervisors and explain why you want to come and work in their particular field of study.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to 700 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

Your statement should be written with reference to the course structure of the MPhil and the options available within it.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of any thesis project proposed
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques.

Your statement should focus on your academic qualifications to the extent that they are relevant to your academic plans, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible provided that these are clearly indicated, though you should not normally submit two extracts from the same work. Where necessary, a cover note may be attached to place an extract in a larger context.

Work should be submitted in English; submissions in other languages may be permissible after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, but at least one sample of written work should be in English and translated into or written in English by you.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for understanding of problems in the area; relevant use of primary evidence; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression. Surveys of published scholarship are less informative to assessors, although a judicious summary of a complex problem may be helpful.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

All references are expected to be academic; if you believe there is good reason for you to include a professional reference, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies before you apply.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, and motivation.