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MPhil in Classics

The Cambridge MPhil in Classics is a self-contained, nine-month course designed to introduce students to the world of independent, academic research. Students have the opportunity to perform focused research into Classical subjects, under the close supervision of leading Cambridge academics, with the support of the Faculty's fine resources and a unique timetable of Specialist Skills classes.

The MPhil is designed to help students acquire the skills needed for doctoral research, whilst also being an intellectually stimulating year for those not necessarily intending to continue in academia.

If your interest is in ancient philosophy, please see the dedicated page here.

Course Structure

Essays: The core of the Cambridge MPhil is three essays (approx. 4,000 words) and a thesis (approx. 10,000 words) spread over nine months. For each essay you will work one-to-one with your supervisor (a Cambridge academic with expertise related to your topic), who will help and guide you through your individual research. For each submitted piece of written work, you will receive a mark and detailed feedback from the examiners.

Seminars: Each subject area (caucus) holds a weekly MPhil seminar, which you will be expected to attend. These cover central topics and themes, approaches and methodologies, in the relevant area. As well as teaching important skills, the seminars are a forum that allow MPhil students to get to know each other, and to discuss and support each other's work.

From 2017 these seminars will change: all students will attend a series of seminars on research skills for Classics graduate students.  In addition, they will choose from a range of Master's level seminars on topics that cover the whole range of Classics: from Aegean archaeology to Imperial epic and from Greek dialects to ancient political philosophy.  A list of courses planned for  2017-18 is available here (pdf).

Specialist Skills Classes: Each year the Faculty runs a series of optional classes aimed specifically at graduate students. Classes are dependent on the availability of academic staff, but in previous years they have included:

  • Mycenaean Epigraphy - an introduction to the writing system of Linear B
  • Numismatics - hands-on classes at the Fitzwilliam Museum
  • Greek & Roman Epigraphy - how to analyse inscriptions
  • The Past on Display - an introduction to museum curation
  • Reading Academic German - a targeted postgraduate language course
  • Palaeography and Textual Criticism

Languages & Exercises: In place of one of their extended essays, M.Phil students can optionally take a Greek or Latin language paper (only available to those who have not studied languages before) or perform an "exercise". Exercises are usually linked to one of the Specialist Skills classes (see above), and could include:

  • the annotated transcription of an epigraphic text
  • a catalogue of a set of coins or other artefacts
  • a linguistic commentary
  • a set of archaeological drawings

Course requirements

First Degree: Normally the minimum standard for admission as an M.Phil. student is a first-class or high 2.1 degree (i.e. a 2.1 with evidence of some first-class achievement) from a British university, or the equivalent from an overseas university. The qualification need not be entirely in classical subjects, but you will need to have some proven expertise relevant to your preferred area of specialisation.

English Language: If English is not your first language, you will also need to satisfy the Faculty’s English language condition (as follows) prior to your admission being confirmed.  You must achieve the minimum requirements in the same sitting, and no more than two years before the start of your course.

  • IELTS: Overall band score of 7.5 (with not less than 7.0 in individual elements)
  • CAE (Cambridge English Advanced):  A grade (plus an assessment by our language centre)
  • CPE (Cambridge English: Proficiency):  A or B grade
  • TOEFL: Overall score of 110 (with not less than 25 in individual elements)

This condition is waived if you have:-

  1. completed a course equivalent to a UK Bachelor's degree;
  2. running for three years or more;
  3. at an English-language institution;
  4. in the last two years.

For full information, please refer to the University website.

Greek & Latin: We are frequently asked whether a knowledge of Greek and Latin is indispensable for admission to the MPhil course. The answer depends in part on the area in which an individual student wishes to specialise. While it may be feasible successfully to take the MPhil in Classical Archaeology without knowledge of the ancient languages, for example, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to tackle a literary topic without expertise in Latin and/or Greek. Candidates who have already studied some Latin and/or Greek, but need to develop their knowledge of the languages, may pursue them further. Scrutiny of applications always involves careful consideration of whether a candidate's linguistic proficiency is appropriate for the topics they are intending to study; for this reason, it is helpful if candidates lay out in some detail in their application the extent of their knowledge of ancient (and modern) languages. At the same time we would also take into account other relevant expertise, such as (for example) knowledge of philosophy other than that of the ancient world, or archaeology other than Classical Archaeology.

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