MSt in Classical Archaeology | University of Oxford
Vases
Vases in the Ashmolean Museum

MSt in Classical Archaeology

About the course

The MSt in Classical Archaeology is designed for those who wish to build on undergraduate studies in Classical archaeology, as well as for those with experience in other areas of Classical studies wishing to develop an understanding of the material culture.

The MSt provides the flexibility to allow you to choose from a wide range of periods (from Prehistoric Aegean through Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and various Roman periods to Later Antiquity), which provide broad overviews, and detailed options focusing on different specific aspects of the subject. At least one period option and one subject option must be chosen, while the choice for the third option can be from either group.

You may also be allowed to study an unlisted topic within Classical archaeology, or directly related to it, provided that the topic is appropriate and teaching is available. If you are seeking a broader course then you may, if you wish, select the third subject from among those offered by a number of cognate disciplines.

You will have a supervisor in your main area of interest, who may provide some of your teaching but will advise on option choices and monitor overall progress. Each member of the academic staff in Classical archaeology offers a different subject in his or her areas of specialism in each of the first two terms, so you can normally choose from about eight different subjects each term; these cover major topics from the Bronze Age to the Late Roman period. Not all courses listed will be available every year.

Teaching is mainly through small-group tutorials or classes of one to five students, for which you prepare short essays on a weekly basis, supplemented by a wide range of lecture courses and graduate seminars. These subject options are examined by pairs of pre-set essays, submitted early in the following term, or students may choose to prepare a 10,000-word dissertation in place of one subject, submitted in the middle of the final term.

The final term is devoted to the broad study of a particular period, which is assessed by written three-hour examination at the end of the term. There is also a compulsory viva voce examination for the whole course.

Graduate destinations

Many graduates from the MSt in Classical Archaeology continue to further degree programmes in Classical archaeology or related fields (ancient history, museum studies) either at Oxford or at leading universities elsewhere, predominantly in the UK and the USA. Others find careers in education, museums, commercial archaeology and the heritage industry.

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 Classical archaeology or related fields (eg Classics, ancient history).

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or above, a first-class degree or the equivalent.

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).

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

Relevant publications are not expected, but may add to the strength of an application.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Evidence of training in ancient and relevant modern languages would be an advantage.

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 School of Archaeology 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 School of Archaeology 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 School of Archaeology.

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

The Institute of Archaeology provides a computer room for the use of all graduate students, with 24-hour access. This has a mixture of both Windows and Mac machines offering the usual range of software, while a number of computers provide specialist GIS and mapping-related software.

The Institute has a wide-range of digital facilities, including desktop imaging and manipulation for publication and dissertation/thesis production such as full-colour scanning of slides, negatives, maps and other paper plan originals.

Students in Classical archaeology also have access to networked computers in the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies. There is a small library in the Institute and a searchable catalogue is available on-line. The Sackler Library, a world-class library for archaeology, classics, and art history, is situated between the Institute of Archaeology, Ioannou Centre and the Ashmolean Museum, and is the central facility; this provides for most student needs. The School has close ties with the Ashmolean Museum, the collections of which, including the Cast Gallery of Classical Sculpture, contribute to graduate teaching. The School of Archaeology also provides specialist skills seminars.

The Institute of Archaeology has a lecture room and a seminar room, and a common room which also houses a small library, while lectures and graduate seminars in Classical archaeology are also held in the nearby Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, where there is a further common room.

Graduate students also run their own organisation, Graduate Archaeology at Oxford, which provides further skills seminars, a mentoring programme, social events and a very successful conference series. This provides many opportunities for you to develop your skills, present your research and develop ideas for the next stage of your career.

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 Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). A number of awards are also available from the Ertegun Scholarship Programme.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£7,400£3,021£10,421
Overseas£16,770£3,021£19,791

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 not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply. 

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 300 words

You should provide a personal statement of no more than 300 words, explaining in English why you want to study this particular course and focusing on academic rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

This will be assessed for:

  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • your reasons for applying
  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,500 words each

Academic written work in English is required. This can be undergraduate essays or excerpts from a longer work such as chapters from a dissertation. An excerpt should be prefaced by a note which puts it in context.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes. It is not necessary that the topic(s) of the work relate directly to Classical archaeology.

This will be assessed for ability to assess evidence, derive logical conclusions, and write in a scholarly and lucid manner.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic preferred

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.

Academic references are generally preferred. One professional reference is acceptable, but in cases where more than one such reference is sought you should contact the department to explain why this is necessary.

Your references will support academic achievement, and potential for graduate study and research.