The Visual Culture of Classical Antiquity MA


Fact file

Qualification name:The Visual Culture of Classical Antiquity
Duration:1 year full-time
Entry requirements:2.1(Upper 2nd class honours degree or international equivalent)
Including:Degree subjects should be relevant to course applied for
IELTS:7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
Part time details:2 years part-time
Start date:September
Campus:University Park

Course Overview

This course is concerned with the visual culture of classical antiquity and modern theories of its study – Greek and Roman sculpture, architecture, mosaics, painting, urbanism. It brings together archaeological, art historical and historical approaches to examine how visual material was treated and understood in antiquity and reinvented for centuries to come.  As well as learning how to look at ancient visual evidence and to use it to construct art-historical and historical arguments, students also study a range of responses to and theories around it – from various periods of classicism from antiquity to modern advertising; from stylistic analysis to modern media studies. 

Nottingham, with established degrees in classical civilisation, archaeology and art history, is fast becoming an international force in the field of ancient visual culture. 

The department has a vibrant research culture, including weekly research papers by national and international specialists, with a particular emphasis on aspects of visual culture. With our Digital Humanities Centre, including a digital slide collection and a range of cameras, scanners and projection equipment, we offer excellent facilities for studying and digitizing visual material, and for producing presentations, project posters and exhibition elements. 

There is close collaboration with the Departments of Archaeology and History of Art which offer complementary modules, and with the Nottingham Institute for Research into Visual Culture (NIRVC). Campus facilities include a museum and art gallery, and off-campus our collaboration with the Nottingham City Museums and Galleries offers the chance to study actual ancient material.

This MA is a fulfilling experience for those interested in the art and architecture of the classical past as well as excellent training for anyone considering doctoral research.


Key facts

  • This course is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in Classical Civilisation, Art History or a related subject.
  • Nottingham's vibrant Department of Classics has special strengths in Greek drama; Greek political, social economic religious history; latin epic and prose literature; Roman history, society and culture; late antiquity; ancient art and visual culture; and the reception of the classical world in European culture.
  • The department has a strong reputation in both teaching and research. In the REF2014 (Research Excellence Framework), the department was ranked equal 4th among Classics departments for world-leading (4*) research, ranking us equal 2nd among UK Classics departments outside Oxbridge.
  • This course enjoys close collaboration with the Departments of Archaeology and History of Art and the Nottingham Institute for Research into Visual Culture (NIRV).

Course Details

The course allows you to develop advanced skills in ancient visual culture through specialised training in the core module 'Researching the Ancient World', expert supervision for the MA Dissertation, training opportunities in the Digital Humanities Centre, and teaching in a selection of themed modules which may include:

  • Myth and Religion
  • The Ancient City
  • War and its Representation
  • Sex, Sexuality and Gender

These themed modules, which change annually, are interdisciplinary and will allow you to concentrate on aspects of the subject which are best-suited to your interests and experience in classical art, while also introducing you to approaches in other disciplines within Classics.

In addition, you have the option to start or continue studying, a classical language as part of the course.

You may also wish to consider taking a module in another appropriate Humanities discipline, such as History of Art.

We also offer the possibility of taking a module involving a two month residential course at the British School at Rome, whilst studying the history, archaeology and visual culture of the city of Rome.

The course leads to a 10,000-15,000-word dissertation, which you will complete during the summer period towards the end of the course.

You will generally be assessed through written assignments, as well as your dissertation.

Please note that all module details are subject to change. You will be informed of the coming session’s module options well before the session begins.


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.

Researching the Ancient World

You will cover the study of different approaches to and different types of evidence available from the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. You will be trained in research techniques and methodologies focussing on topics of controversy or current investigation in academia. You will have the opportunity to focus on topics relevant to your own interests. The module consists of a two-hour workshop each week, and students are expected to attend the department's weekly research seminar.


Myth, Society and Religion

You will explore the nature and role of myth in Greek and Roman cultures, with a focus on their religious and social significance. As well as examining sources in detail, you will explore different approaches to examining myth, and be given the opportunity to focus on literary, visual or historical aspects of myth. The module consists of a two-hour seminar each week. 

Telling Stories

This interdisciplinary module explores the ways in which stories shape thought. You will look at historical, literary, and visual narratives alongside constructions of history, society and culture from the Greek and Roman world, as well as the modern. The programme is delivered around student interests, but topics may include emperors and excess, rhetoric and narratio, the ancient novel, and the politics of immorality. You will have a two-hour seminar each week.

War and Its Representation

This module focuses on textual and visual representations of war. Taught jointly by experts in art, literature and ancient history, you will explore the meanings and agendas of representations which may range from accounts of warfare in the age of Homer to images of Roman Victoria on Constantinian coinage. Topics may include war as spectacle, defeat and death, wounds and bodies, going naval and handbooks of war. You will have a weekly two-hour seminar.

The Ancient City

This module explores the history, literature and visual culture of the Greek and Roman city. With a focus on Athens, Sparta and Rome, you will also have the opportunity to study earlier examples of urbanism in the Mediterranean basin, as well as contemporary settlements. You will touch upon a range of urban-related topics such as politics, religion, social status, trade, architecture, art and literary culture, from which you will be able to launch your own research. The module consists of a weekly two-hour seminar.

Beginners' Latin for MA Students

You will be introduced to the grammar and vocabulary of classical Latin. No previous knowledge is assumed, and there is an emphasis on the understanding and analysis of basic sentences and short passages. You will have four 1-hour classes weekly.

Intermediate Latin for MA Students

This module aims to complete your basic instruction in Latin, enabling you to proceed to the reading of Latin texts. The module consists of four hours of seminars weekly. 

Advanced Latin for MA Students

Paying special attention to style and language, you will examine a range of texts representative of an author, theme or genre in the original Latin. The position of the text(s) in the development of the genre will be explored alongside consideration of its social context. You will have two hours of lectures and a one-hour seminar each week.

Beginners' Greek for MA Students

You will be introduced to the basics of classical Greek vocabulary and grammar. No previous knowledge is assumed, and there is an emphasis on the ability to read classical Greek through the study and translation of adapted passages from Greek texts. You will have four 1-hour classes each week.

Intermediate Greek for MA Students

This module aims to complete your basic instruction in Greek, and focuses on the reading and understanding of simple Greek texts. You will have four hours of seminars weekly.

Advanced Greek for MA Students

Paying special attention to style and language, you will examine a range of texts representative of an author, theme or genre in the original Greek. The position of the text(s) in the development of the genre will be explored alongside consideration of its social context. You will have three hours of classes each week.

Dissertation in Classical Antiquity

You will produce a 10,000 – 15,000 word dissertation representing the results of a research project, agreed in consultation with the module convenor and your Course Director. 


New: masters-level professional development modules for arts and humanities students

For more details on our modules, please see the module catalogue.



UK/EU Students & International Students

For up-to-date information and application forms on these and other funding opportunities, please visit the funding section of the School of Humanities website.

The University’s International Office has a wide range of scholarship opportunities for students with either an EU or Overseas fee status, including Full Tuition Fee Research Scholarships, a fee reduction for alumni, EU and Accession State Scholarships, and FUN America Scholarships.


By studying a taught programme at masters level, you will further develop your academic skills in terms of communication, presentation and research.

Postgraduates of all backgrounds are highly sought after by employers because they are able to demonstrate a stronger skills set, so this course will prepare you for a wide range of careers.

You will also be well equipped to pursue research in the field of classics, particularly relating to classical antiquity.

In addition, your knowledge may be highly sought after by museums and galleries.

Average starting salary and career progression

According to independent research, Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and over 2,000 employers approach the University every year with a view to recruiting our students. Consequently – and owing to our reputation for excellence – more than 94% of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts enter employment, voluntary work or further study during the first six months after graduation**.

* The Graduate Market in 2013, 2014 and 2015, High Fliers Research.

** Data is taken from known destinations of the 2013/14 leaving cohort of Nottingham home/EU postgraduates who studied full-time.

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field . Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers. 
(The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.)

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Department of Classics
School of Humanities
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD
t:   +44 (0)115 951 4800
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