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Department of Classics and Ancient History

MA in Ancient Philosophy


Ancient philosophy has a long and distinguished history at Durham, and is currently one of the research strengths of our Department. 

Our Ancient Philosophy MA is a specialist programme geared towards preparing students for higher research in ancient philosophy - partly through direct research training, and partly through modules taught by experts in their field in small-group seminars. The programme lasts for one year (two years part time), and consists of the elements below.

Classical Research Methods and Resources

This module (often known as CRMR) forms the backbone to the programme, and runs throughout the year (one hour per week). In the early stages, it introduces you to the physical tools of research, including libraries and computers and all that they can do to help; but is substantially focussed on introducing you to theories and methodologies of dealing with a wide range of ancient material. The module offers direct support to your dissertation work, helping you to develop a reflective, well thought out research plan.


The dissertation is an independent piece of research, conducted under expert supervision, on a topic of your choice within the field of ancient philosophy. You are also required to take it as a module. It will be up to 12,000 - 15,000 words long, and is submitted at the end of the programme, in September.


You are required to do one language module as part of the MA. You might take up Latin or Greek if you haven't some grounding in them already: we run special Masters-level courses for beginners in these languages. Or you might take courses to improve the skills in these languages that you already have. Alternatively, you may substitute any other available language, modern or ancient. In most areas of Classical research a lot of the most important literature you will need to read is in French, German, or Italian, for example. We can offer Akkadian in the Classics Department; Egyptian and Hebrew are among other ancient languages taught at Durham.

Core Module

You must take one module from a specified range in the area of ancient philosophy. For 2014/15, the options are:

Elective Module

Members of the Department offer modules in their own research areas, and you are able to choose any one of these (in addition to CRMR, the Dissertation module, the one compulsory language module, and the one complusory core module in Ancient Philosophy). Modules are generally run as intensive small-group seminars, meeting for 2 hours every fortnight throughout the year. It is possible to substitute two undergraduate modules under this heading (for example if you wish to take up a new subject altogether), or to take a module offered by another Department in Durham.