MA Classical Studies part 2

This module forms part 2 of the MA in Classical Studies and allows you to apply the broad skills gained in part 1 to delve more deeply into one particular subject - the ancient body - and to train and supervise you in the skills you need to write your dissertation. You'll be taken through cutting-edge research on various aspects of the body like birth, death, sickness and beauty, all the time building up your independent research skills so that by the time you start the dissertation section, you are ready to work on your own project.

Vocational relevance

An MA in Classical Studies will give you certified skills in independent research, meaning it can act as a stepping stone to further research in the form of a PhD, or as a sign to future employers that you are capable of conducting research in your chosen future vocation.


A864 is a compulsory module in our:


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

This module is arranged in two parts: a subject section and a dissertation section.

Subject 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 material as Greek and Roman literature, human remains, art and artefacts. You will learn to combine different types of evidence and to 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 own cultural assumptions about the body, before moving on to look at the senses in antiquity and the history of body research in Classical studies, focussing 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, as well as looking at the way that ancient societies approached illness, both 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 for the writing of 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 own 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 own 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 your initial ideas past your tutor, so that any problems can be dealt with before your dedicated dissertation time begins.

Dissertation section
In this section you'll conduct your own 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 engaging 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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the module work and mark and comment on your assignments. Both modules in the MA in Classical Studies have online tuition and you are encouraged to take part in the online tutorials with your tutor and tutor group, as well as the Module-wide Forum. Tutorials will be held throughout the year and can be accessed from any computer with internet access. They are likely to be a blend of asynchronous online discussions, in which you can participate at times of your choice, and synchronous (‘live’) tutorials at set times. Further information about tutorials will be provided at the start of the module.

During your studies, you will be supported by a dedicated tutor. Tuition is organised through online platforms in nine group tutorials at intervals scattered throughout the subject section, a small group dissertation discussion session at the beginning of the dissertation section, and four hours of one-on-one supervision with your tutor.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Course work includes

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

MA Classical Studies part 2 starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2024.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    To register for this module, you will need to have successfully completed the MA in Classical Studies part 1 (A863). You should be confident of the study skills you learnt in that module and be ready to acquire gradually more comprehensive skills in order to be able to conduct your own independent research in the final section of the module. 

    Outside the UK

    As this module involves entirely internet-based teaching material and tuition, it is available to study worldwide.

    Preparatory work

    If you are not yet confident of some of the study skills you learnt in Part 1 of the MA, you can use the intervening time to improve on this via the learning webpages of The Open University Library.


    Start End England fee Register
    07 Oct 2023 Oct 2024 £4720.00

    Registration closes 14/09/23 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2024.

    Future availability

    MA Classical Studies part 2 starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2024.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    Study materials with which you will be provided includes:

    • a module guide
    • an interactive week-by-week study calendar
    • online study guides to introduce you to the essential resources and important issues relevant to each block of study
    • a dissertation guide with advice and guidance on the production and assessment of your dissertation
    • electronic resources for studying classical studies, and training in their use, via The Open University library.

    You will need

    It will be helpful for this module, especially the independent research element in the dissertation, to have access to a research library near you. If you do not live near a university or public library with a good collection of literature on ancient Greece and Rome, the Institute of Classical Studies in London offers a postal borrowing service. You can become a member by joining either the Roman or the Hellenic Societies.

    Computing requirements

    You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

    Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

    It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.

    Request your prospectus

    Our prospectuses help you choose your course, understand what it's like to be an OU student and register for study.

    Request prospectus