MA Classical Studies part 1

The MA in Classical Studies allows you to explore in depth the history, literature, archaeology, and reception of Greek, Roman and associated ancient cultural worlds. This module introduces you to Classical Studies at postgraduate level, helping you to acquire and develop the skills of independent research necessary to complete an extended project. Designed around four thematic blocks of study material, it invites you to explore Classical Studies as an interdisciplinary and changing field which involves discovering new materials and topics, encountering different perspectives, and developing original ways to study and interpret fragmentary ancient evidence.

Vocational relevance

This module will be of particular relevance if you wish to pursue a career in Classical Studies, teaching, academic institutions, museums, galleries, heritage and the wider arts sector. In addition to these areas, graduates of courses in Classical Studies are traditionally highly valued by employers for their very broad skills sets, developed through working with an unusually wide range of source materials that in turn, require unusual levels of intellectual flexibility. Linguistic aptitude, critical analysis, high levels of creativity and skills in researching, organising and presenting material are useful in a wide range of employments.


A868 is a compulsory module in our:

A868 is an optional module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


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

In Block 1: Classical Studies in the 21st Century, you'll consider what it means to be a researcher in Classical Studies in the modern era. By working through a series of questions – ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ – you'll explore the ways in which Classical Studies is an evolving, living subject. This will include considering: the ways in which Classical Studies is moving away from its traditional characterisation as a ‘white’, ‘elitist’ subject; the new, contemporary questions that are being asked of the ancient past and which are replacing old paradigms; and the emergence of innovative approaches to studying the ancient world. You’ll also discover how insights gained from investigating the distant past can inform approaches to contemporary global challenges.

Block 2: Lost Cities, investigates ways to recover information, interpret evidence and develop an understanding of the distant past through a focus on cities, one of the defining features of the ancient world. You'll explore the concept of the ‘city’ from multiple perspectives, using interdisciplinary approaches to develop research skills and your knowledge and understanding of ancient cites and their relationships to the contemporary world. Case studies investigate cities that were abandoned, destroyed, replaced, forgotten, and some that were only ever written about. You'll also problematise the concept of ‘lost’, discovering how research can transform ‘lost’ into various forms of ‘found’. This is juxtaposed with investigations of different kinds of city: excavated cities (Pompeii), imaginary cities (Troy), literary cities (Thebes), exemplary cities (Rome) and inspirational cities (Alexandria).

In Block 3: Fragments, you'll delve deeper into the ways in which the classical world is fragmented and how this affects interpretations of the past. Working with fragments will allow you to investigate underrepresented voices of the ancient world (such as women and people with disabilities), shaping both your understanding of the past and new questions you might ask about it as a researcher. You'll encounter fragments in a wide range of contexts (literary texts, broken objects, inscriptions and museum collections), from both ancient and modern perspectives. Topics include the Greek poet Sappho and her later reception; methodological approaches to fragmentation and translation; inscriptions; fragmentation, hybridity and ancient bodies; Roman funerals; and the concept of the fragment in museum collections.

Block 4: People in the World, focuses on relationships between ancient people and the material and social worlds in which they lived. You'll interrogate why these relationships matter, not only in terms of our understanding of ancient lived experiences and particular cultural, social, and economic contexts, but also their ongoing relevance to the contemporary world. Topics you will encounter include the role of sensory experience in reconstructing and evaluating diverse lived experiences; ecocritical approaches to ancient agricultural writing and pastoral poetry; the role of water in ancient life; and religion, landscape, and changing environments. In the final two weeks of the block, you'll be guided through a series of activities that will help you to design a research question for your end-of-module assessment and prepare a research plan to answer that question.

You will learn

This module will:

  • build upon and develop your existing knowledge of, and interest in, Classical Studies
  • provide you with advanced academic training in Classical Studies at postgraduate level, enhancing your research and analytical skills and upgrading your qualifications
  • develop your independent research skills and provide experience of the presentation of research findings in a piece of extended scholarly writing.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

This module is delivered entirely online. You'll have a tutor who will provide online tutorials, help you with the module work and mark and comment on your written work, as well as supporting you to design and produce your end-of-module assessment project. 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. More details about these learning events will be available at the start of the module.


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

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

MA Classical Studies part 1 starts once a year, in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2035.


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

You must hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent), preferably with at least a 2:1 classification, to study the MA in Classical Studies. Although your degree does not need to be in Classical Studies, you will need a good knowledge of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds to successfully complete this qualification, as the MA assumes all candidates have the knowledge and skills usually acquired by pursuing the subject at undergraduate level. If your degree or background is not in Classical Studies (or a related discipline such as Ancient History or Archaeology), we strongly recommend that you complete the preparatory work listed below.

It is expected that your spoken and written English will also be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 7 under the International English Language testing system (IELTS). Knowledge of the Greek or Latin language is not required.

Preparatory work

The following resources will be useful preparation for the MA. Some are short volumes that may be useful to read in their entirety; others are collections from which we recommend choosing one or two chapters that interest you.

General introductions to classical studies and the ancient world:

  • Beard, M. and J. Henderson (2000) Classics: A very short introduction, Oxford University Press.
  • Bispham, E, T. Harrison and B. Sparkes (eds) (2006) Edinburgh Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome, Edinburgh University Press.
Useful volumes on sub-disciplines:
  • Allan, W. (2014) Classical Literature: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press
  • Erskine, A (ed.) (2009) A Companion to Ancient History, Wiley.
  • Frieman, C. J. (2023) Archaeology as History: Telling Stories from a Fragmented Past, Cambridge University Press.
  • De Pourcq, M, N. De Haan and D. Rijser (2020) Framing Classical Reception Studies: Different Perspectives on a Developing Field, Brill.
Set text for Block 1 – this is an extended opinion piece rather than a piece of scholarship which you will investigate and critique during your studies:
  • Morley, N. (2018) Classics: why it matters, Polity.


Start End England fee Register
07 Sep 2024 Jun 2025 £3715.00

Registration closes 08/08/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in September 2035.

Future availability

MA Classical Studies part 1 starts once a year, in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2035.

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

The study materials you will be provided with include:

  • An interactive Study Calendar, available through a dedicated website.
  • Online study materials to introduce you to the essential resources and important issues relevant to each block of study
  • Bespoke audio, video, and interactive resources to help you engage with your studies.
  • The Classical Studies Guide to Referencing, which provides information on the use of scholarly conventions in Classical Studies.
  • Electronic resources for studying Classical Studies and undertaking assignments and research projects, and training in the use of these, via The Open University library.
  • Access to online forums.

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 Ventura 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, image descriptions, and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of online material are available. Some Adobe PDF components and electronic journals may not be available or fully accessible using a screen. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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