What you will study
This module is arranged in two parts: a subject section and a dissertation section.
You will focus on a specific but wide-ranging topic: the body in antiquity. Some of the most innovative and exciting classical research is currently being done in body studies, and many of the scholars involved are also our Classical Studies staff. The subject section will give you the chance to explore some of this new material at the hands of those experts, at the same time honing your skills in source analysis, grappling with secondary literature and constructing your own arguments. The topics chosen cover such diverse materials as Greek and Roman literature, human remains, art and artefacts. You will learn to combine different types of evidence and explore both classical scholarship and modern theoretical approaches.
The subject section is divided into the following four teaching blocks:
Block 1: Introduction
This block will get you thinking about the body in antiquity, how we define it and the different ways that we might approach the fact that it is at once both a very familiar topic and one that reveals striking distances between cultures. It will begin by inviting you to confront your cultural assumptions about the body before looking at the senses in antiquity and the history of body research in Classical studies, focusing on how the different sub-disciplines have approached it. It will finish by looking at a selection of themes in which the differences in ancient and modern ideas of the body are drawn into particularly sharp contrast.
Block 2: The Body and Cultural Ritual
This block focuses on the way ancient societies dealt with the universal human events of birth and death. You will look at cultural assumptions and medical approaches surrounding childbirth before moving on to ancient beliefs surrounding death, the way people disposed of and commemorated their dead and dealt with corpses, and the role of the body in the process of mourning.
Block 3: The Body as Biological Entity
This block focuses on exploring the world of sickness and health in antiquity. You will study the latest scientific methods of analysing human remains to gain information about diet, illness and injury, and how ancient societies approached illness from a medical and from a religious healing perspective.
Block 4: The Body as a Cultural Canvas
This block examines ancient ideals of dress and beauty. While allowing you to gain new insights into the ancient world through the subject of the body, the main objective of the subject section is to steadily prepare you to write your dissertation. The tutor-marked assignments (TMA) at the end of each block build in increasing levels of independence in the way that you go about your work, and they are designed to give you training in the essential skills you will need to plan your dissertation, conduct your research and structure your arguments. The TMA in this block serves as a ‘practice run’ for planning your dissertation and writing your dissertation proposal. In this way, by the end of the subject section, you will be ready to conduct your independent research on a subject of your choice. You'll also prepare an Outline Dissertation Proposal, in which you will run your proposed topic and initial ideas past your tutor so that any problems can be dealt with before your dedicated dissertation time begins.
In this section, you'll conduct your independent research over roughly four months on your chosen topic. At the end, you will submit your 10-12,000-word MA dissertation. Your tutor will supervise you along the way, giving you feedback on your Comprehensive Dissertation Proposal (due several weeks into the dissertation section) and a sample chapter, as well as in less formal one-on-one supervisory meetings. Part 2 of the MA in Classical Studies aims to complete the journey you began in Part 1 of gradually transforming you from a student into an independent researcher.
You will learn
This module will consolidate and build on the learning and research skills that you have acquired in the MA Classical Studies part 1. You will be asked to evaluate and combine ancient source material as well as engage with modern scholarly debates. The tasks are structured such that you gradually acquire more independence in your study, preparing you step by step for your dissertation.