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.
The allocation of graduate supervision for the course 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.
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.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. In certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the faculty
Greek and/or Roman History MSt
Ancient History DPhil
Classical Languages and Literature DPhil
Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature MSt
Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature MPhil
Classical Archaeology MSt
Classical Archaeology MPhil
Ancient Philosophy MSt
Women's Studies MSt
All graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Classics
Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in Classics or a similar course of academic study with substantial course components in the area of ancient history.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Publications are not normally expected at this stage, but you should mention any publications that you have produced.
English language requirement
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement.
Detailed requirements - higher level
The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:
|IELTS Academic||7.5||Minimum 7.0 per component|
Minimum component scores:
|Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced||191||Minimum 185 per component|
|Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency||191||Minimum 185 per component|
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide.
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
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
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.
There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.
Annual fees for entry in 2020-21
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£11,605|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
The following colleges accept students on the MPhil in Greek and/or Roman History:
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:
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.
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.
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.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.
Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.
Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).