The MA (Hons) in Classical Studies is a four-year course run by the School of Classics. The first two years focus on Greek and Roman literature, art and culture.
In your first year, you will start by exploring some of the most dynamic literary and artistic achievements of archaic and classical Greece, ranging from Homer’s epic poetry, to the art and drama of classical Athens and the philosophy of Plato. You will learn how the Greeks used art, drama, myth and religion to express their sense of community and to navigate the turbulent world they inhabited. Then you will turn to the art and literature of Augustan Rome, and learn how art, literature and the fabric of the city of Rome itself were reinvented by, and in response to, the new regime of the first Roman emperor.
In your second year, you will take modules that further extend and refine your knowledge of Greek and Latin literature. This year covers the art, literature and philosophy of two periods of dramatic social and political change, early Greece and the Late Roman Republic.
Rome in the Late Republic (first century BCE) experienced a series of brutal civil wars that tore the city and its empire apart and ushered in the age of the emperors. Yet the same period also produced some of Rome’s finest literature, from the seething passions of Catullus’ poetry to the slick rhetoric of Cicero’s speeches. You will study key authors of the period in their social, political and intellectual context, to learn – among other things – how they used their writing to work out what it meant to be Roman in such turbulent times.
To round off your second year, you will go back to the very beginning of the western tradition by studying the works of the earliest Greek poets and philosophers. You will learn how they sought to bring order to the human and divine worlds of the earliest Greek city-states, and how they used their works to explore themes of justice, love and relationships and to attack their enemies.
There is no compulsory language element in the Classical Studies MA (Hons), although you can choose to study Latin or Greek through optional modules. The Classical Studies programme is extremely flexible and also allows you to take sub-honours modules from the Ancient History (MA) programme, which will deepen and broaden your understanding of the historical background to Greek and Roman culture.
The analytical skills you gain in your first two years will prepare you to continue exploring a wide range of texts and topics at a more advanced level in your third and fourth years (Honours level).
Alongside Classical Studies, in the first year of your studies you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually continue to study at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.
At Honours level, you will be able to branch out and study modules across a wide range of genres and historical, cultural and philosophical topics which reflect your own particular interests. You will also have the opportunity to explore the relationship between the ancient and the modern world, through a number of modules which focus on the reception of classical antiquity, that is, the use which later societies and cultures have made of the legacy of the Greeks and Romans, from the Renaissance to the present. Recent topics have included:
- Ancient religion and magic
- Greek and Roman art
- Greek philosophy, morality and ethics
- Women in ancient societies
- Greek theatre
- Major genres of Greek and Roman literature, from epic to history, rhetoric and novels
- The reception of Greek and Roman culture from the Renaissance to the present, in theatre, novels, education and film.
A wide range of other modules is available to complement Classical Studies and suit your interests. For example, Ancient History, Modern Languages, Mediaeval History, English Literature and Philosophy.
The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure webpage.
Find out more about studying Classical Studies at St Andrews