MA by Research Classics and Ancient History

Duration Full time 2 years
Part time 3 years
Distance Learning available
  • Classics and Ancient History
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September, January or April


The Master by Research in Classics and Ancient History like other research degrees contains no taught element and offers you the opportunity to pursue a research project, without entering into the commitment of a PhD. As such, it’s ideal for those in employment who are interested in pursuing a specific shorter-term research project. The degree programme is intended both as an award in its own right or as a progression route to a PhD. As such, it is best suited to candidates who have already identified and defined an appropriate topic in the fields of Classics and Ancient History to research in depth for the entirety of their degree. Prospective applicants are strongly advised to contact potential supervisors to discuss the suitability of their topic and the availability of expertise in the department prior to application.

The Department prides itself on its vigorous research culture spanning the breadth of the Classical world and its neighbours, with methodological strengths in the various fields of literature, language, history, archaeology and philosophy. Our academic staff have a broad range of expertise and ground-breaking research interests, much of which (but not all) falling within the remit of our three research centres.

We have a real research culture at Exeter, with international conferences and regular publications. We hope that you will become part of that culture and add to our research strength. Prospective MA by Research candidates are encouraged to explore the interests of our staff in more detail via their individual pages, and should make informal contact with a potential supervisor before submitting a formal application.

A Masters by Research degree is assessed by a written dissertation of up to 40,000 words. The dissertation will not need to constitute an original contribution to knowledge but will need to provide evidence that you have worked at the current limits of understanding of the subject. Unlike a taught Masters degree, there is no taught element, so dedication and enthusiasm for your subject are essential. As with other research students, you may be required to ‘audit’ all or part of certain modules, following a training needs analysis.

The MbyRes programmes are two years full time or three years part time. There is no minimum registration period and students may complete their studies within a shorter time scale. However, students who are accessing financial support through the Student Loan Company Postgraduate Research Loan should be aware that funding payments are scheduled across two years of the defined full time programme duration, or three years for part-time equivalents.

Distance-based MA by Research

It may be possible to study with only occasional visits to the University. Distance-based students undertake the majority of their research at an off campus location of their choosing. If you think you may be interested in a distance-based MA by Research, please read the guidance and further information before applying.

Current available funding

Research areas

  • Ancient and modern philosophy, especially ethics
  • Classical art and archaeology
  • Classics in the history of sexuality
  • Comparative philology and linguistics
  • Food in the ancient world
  • Greek and Roman epic, tragedy and comedy
  • Greek and Roman mythology, religion and magic
  • Greek and Roman social history, especially sexuality
  • Hellenistic history, especially the barbarian interface and the Greek culture of Asia Minor and dynastic studies
  • History of medicine in antiquity, especially Galen
  • Later Greek literature, including Lucian, Athenaeus, ecphrasis
  • Latin literature

The Classics and Ancient History research webpages provide more comprehensive details about current research projects. Details on individual staff research interests and publications can be found on the Classics and Ancient History staff profiles pages.

Classics and Ancient History at Exeter is ranked 6th in the UK for research power by the Times Higher (using the Research Excellence Framework 2014 results), with 75% of research classified as world-leading or internationally excellent. The Department has a vigorous research culture, with international conferences, at least once a year, most of which lead to published volumes.

The impact of our research benefits the larger community in many ways, in the UK, and in other countries where our research is conducted.

Our postgraduates are a part of the vigorous research culture in the Department. They have taken a leading role in setting up their own seminar series, and in giving conference papers throughout the UK and abroad.

The Department journal Pegasus is currently edited by postgraduates and includes contributions by undergraduates and staff members.

Research centres

Supported by a £1.25 million Leverhulme grant, the Centre for Hellenistic and Romano-Greek Culture and Society is rapidly becoming internationally recognised for the study of the history and culture of the post-classical Greek world.

The Centre for Connectivity in the Roman World aims to examine in what ways connectivity contributed to the shaping of distinctive cultures, economies and societies across the breadth of the Roman world (and its immediate neighbours).

The Centre for Knowledge in Culture in Antiquity and Beyond brings together research in specialised areas including ancient medicine, ancient science and the scientific imagination, metaphysics, philosophy, ethics, sexual knowledge, military strategy and political thought, and on ancient technical writings from across the Classical world.

Research projects

Most staff research is based on individual research projects, many of which are externally funded. There are also clusters of research expertise, enabling fruitful synergy between colleagues, and these provide a framework for much of the postgraduate research.


We offer excellent support including research skills training, dedicated postgraduate facilities including an IT suite and common room. PhD students who undertake undergraduate teaching enjoy the use of a pleasant suite of offices in the heart of the department. There is a lively postgraduate community whose regular activities include reading groups and a seminar series in the Leventis room, which also houses the department’s postgraduate library. Our postgraduates attend the weekly departmental research seminar; are involved in editing and writing for the departmental journal Pegasus; and in events run by the undergraduate Classics Society, such as the staging of classical plays.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career.

Postgraduate students have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Classics and Ancient History postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation

Classics Teacher
Climate Change Communications Manager
Production Supplier Analyst
English Foreign Language Teacher
Senior Lecturer
International Public Relations Specialist
Assistant Head, International Partnerships
Lecturer in Roman History

Exeter School
Met Office
Homerun Consulting
Goodridge Ltd UK
Plymouth College
Stellenbosch University, South Africa
University of Exeter
Hokkaido University, Japan
University of Exeter
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Entry requirements 2018

The MA by Research is suited to dedicated students who are comfortable with independent research with a focused topic already in mind. Applicants should have a proven track-record of producing excellent research at undergraduate level, either in the form of an overall first class degree in Classics and Ancient History, or an upper-second class degree with a first-class dissertation (or equivalent). They should also obtain prior approval on a research proposal from their prospective supervisor in the department of Classics and Ancient History before submitting an application. Students should also have an undergraduate degree in Classics and Ancient History, or a cognate discipline e.g. Archaeology.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Current available funding

Contact us

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306
Web: Enquire online

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Why study Classics at Exeter?

Dr Richard Flower (Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History) gives an overview of the Classics and Ancient History department and what postgraduate students can expect at Exeter.