MPhil in Greek and/or Roman History | University of Oxford
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Cast of a bronze statue in the Ashmolean Museum
(Image Credit: The Cast Gallery, Ashmolean Museum)

MPhil in Greek and/or Roman History

About the course

This two-year MPhil is the course taken by the majority of master's students in Ancient History. It is an intensive research training degree designed to equip you with a range of both knowledge and skills in Greek and/or Roman history; but it will prove stimulating and enjoyable for those whose aim is simply to deepen their understanding of current debates and developments in Ancient History.

For the MPhil you will produce a thesis of up to 25,000 words, two pieces of work based on graduate seminars run by members of the faculty in Greek and Roman History, and three further options.

One of these options is a language. Competence in ancient Greek and/or Latin being a requirement for doctoral work in Ancient History, many MPhil students choose one of these languages as their linguistic option: both are available at Elementary and Intermediate level. For those whose Greek and Latin are already serviceable, there is an opportunity to acquire one of the principal languages of scholarship in Ancient History, French, Italian, or German; or to lay foundations in another ancient language relevant to their interests, such as Hebrew, Aramaic or Coptic. 

Language teaching is provided in the form of classes and/or individual or small-group tutorials. All the linguistic options are assessed  by a three-hour written examination, taken at the end of the first or second year.

One of the other options is drawn from a list of subjects based on Methods and techniques of scholarship, such as Greek or Roman Numismatics, Greek or Roman Epigraphy, and Documentary Papyrology. The other is chosen from a second list of topics on specific historical periods or themes, among which are Greek history ca 650–479 BCE; Athenian Democracy in the Classical Age; Alexander the Great and his successors 336–301 BCE; Roman history 146 BC–46 BCE; Roman history 138–312 CE; The economy of the Roman Empire; The provinces of the Roman Empire; Greek and/or Roman religions; Greek and/or Latin historiography; The world of Augustine; and The City of Rome (this option is taught in Rome, and involves attendance at the residential course organised by the School annually in Rome, with intensive exploration of the sites and museums of the city (only those accepted by the School may take the option). Finally, some students take advantage of a provision by which you and your supervisor can develop a customised option in a field of ancient history specifically relevant to your needs and interests. (For the whole, much more extensive, list, see the Graduate Handbook). 

Teaching of these options will be provided through classes, seminars or tutorials as appropriate.

All the options are assessed by a pair of pre-submitted essays: those on the compulsory seminar are submitted at the end of the first year, and oral feedback provided; those on the other options may be submitted at the end of the first or second year. The dissertation is submitted at the end of the second year. 

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.

Other courses in this area

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 2019-20

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 ancient history. 

Most successful applicants have, or go on to obtain, a first-class or high upper second-class honours undergraduate degree.

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).

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 normally expected at this stage, but you should mention any publications that you have produced. 

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 Ancient History. 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 for those studying literature or philology. 

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course 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 find out more about your eligibility for these studentships, please see the AHRC Doctoral Training Programme website.

Applicants to this course may also be eligible to apply for other scholarship and funding opportunities, including the Ertegun Scholarship Programme.  In order to be considered for this award you will need to complete the scholarships section of the course application form and submit additional supporting material. The programme’s website provides more details about the application process as well as any eligibility criteria which apply.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2019-20

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£11,160
Overseas£25,387

The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

Course 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 course fees). 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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

You are encouraged to communicate with the department 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. 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.

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