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MA Literature Courses

This page is being frequently updated.  Please check back for the latest information.


Greek Lyric Poetry

Professor Giambattista D'Alessio (King's)

Description: A study of selected Greek lyric poets of the seventh, sixth and fifth centuries in the original language. Topics considered may include dialect, style, metre, literary interpretation, circumstances and manner of performance, social, political and religious context, textual transmission. The first term will be devoted to a selection of solo and choral poets, the second to Pindar and Bakchylides.

Assessment: two essays and one commentary of c. 4,000 words each.

Place: Classics E1 or B7,Wednesdays 11:00-13:00

Greek Palaeography and Textural Criticism

(20 Credits)
Dr Alessandra Bucossi
Description: This module is designed for students with a good knowledge of classical Greek, who want to learn how to approach and understand
independently the primary sources of Classical and Medieval literature:
Mediaeval manuscripts and critical editions. It offers a basic introduction to Greek Palaeography and Textual Criticism and focuses on the preservation of Greek literary heritage from the Renaissance to modern times.
The course will start from the revival of Greek studies in Renaissance
Italy and will follow the development of textual criticism from the first
critical editions of the Bible to the contemporary attempts to apply
phylogenetic methods. From manuscripts to online editions we will explore how texts are reconstructed and analysed by philologists, but also how and why philology (or textual criticism) has been one of the fundamental pillars
of the development of intellectual freedom against ideological or
religious mystifications and recently has even been described as ‘the
most subversive of all disciplines’ (Luciano Canfora).

Horace, Carmina I

Professor Roland Mayer (King's)

Description: This dedicated MA module aims to introduce Horace as a lyric poet. In his first book Horace offered the reader an exceptional variety of lyric forms and themes (hymns, narratives, erotic, sympotic, and political situations). In addition to seeing how Horace adapted the rich tradition of Greek lyric (and epigram) for Latin lyric, we will particularly concentrate on his poetic style, since one of the issues he faced was the creation of a satisfactory verbal medium for lyric, which had only a slight tradition in Rome. Close attention will therefore be paid to diction, word order and sentence structure. The organization of the individual ode, and the ordering of the poems within the book will also be studied.

Assessment: 3 elements, each contributing equally to the total mark: two essays, each of around 4,000 words, chosen from a set list, and a 2-hour unseen test on the prescribed text at the end of the course containing passages in Latin for translation and comment.

Place: Classics D1, Thursdays 4:00-6:00

British Latin Poetry of the 16th and 17th Centuries (half unit)

Dr Victoria Moul (King's)

Description: This unit offers students the opportunity to explore some of the key genres and authors of the Latin poetry written in Britain between around 1500 and 1700. In this period, a large amount of original Latin poetry, much of it of high literary quality, was produced throughout Europe, in a range of genres, including those familiar from classical Latin literature (epic, elegy, drama, epigram) as well as several genres not typical of classical Latin verse (such as Latin Pindaric odes and Christian religious verse). This understudied material offers many points of interest, especially for students interested in any of the following topics: the reception of classical Latin poetry in British literature; the links between Latin and English literature during the Renaissance; the political possibilities of classical imitation; or the linguistic features of neo-classical Latin. Due to the understudied nature of much of this material, a good deal of which remains unedited and untranslated, this topic is also an excellent opportunity for any graduate students who are interested in the challenges of editing and translating a text for themselves. Prospective students should have good Latin (that is, they should have completed upper-level undergraduate language and literature courses), and preferably a solid knowledge of classical Latin literature. Students will be expected to read about 200 lines of Latin per week, together with one or two articles or chapters from books.

Assessment will be one essay of 3,000 words on a topic of their choice (subject to approval by the course teachers) and a translation and commentary of a selected poem or extract, also of around 2,000 words.

Place: Please contact Victoria Moul

Students with an interest in the course are welcome to contact Victoria Moul ( with any questions.

Greek Epigraphy

Prof. Charlotte Roueché (King's BMGS), Dr Irene Polinskaya (King's Classics), Dr L Rubinstein (RHUL), Dr Riet van Bremen (UCL)

The aim of this module is to give students both training in the practical techniques of epigraphy, experience in dealing with inscriptions and their context, and also practice in the analysis and use of inscribed texts in the study of the Greek-speaking world. The module is designed with an extensive chronological range.  Experts on different periods will teach their particular specialisms; it is also intended to co-operate closely with the British Museum and to exploit their collection. By the end of the module a student will be expected to be able to establish the text of an inscription; appreciate its archaeological context; provide comparative material; and compose a brief account of its significance in historical and related terms.

Assessment: students will be required to take two tests, on the last teaching day of each semester. Each test will cover the work done in that semester, and each will account for 30% of the final mark. Students will also be required to complete two essays of c. 2,000 words, one in each semester. Each essay will be worth 20% of the final mark.

Place: Classics D7, Mondays 1:00-3:00

Latin Epigraphy

Dr John Pearce (King's), Prof Boris Rankov (RHUL), Dr Benet Salway (UCL) Description:The aim of the module is to introduce students to both the practical study and the interpretation of Latin inscriptions of all types. The module will review the expanding resources available for the study of Latin inscriptions; the production of epigraphic material from the point of view of those commissioning it and the individual craftsman; the development and decline of the 'epigraphic habit'; and the analysis and interpretation of the texts in the broader context of the artefacts, monuments or buildings to which they were attached. It is intended to make use as much as possible of photographs and of epigraphic material in the British Museum. By the end of the module, students will be expected to be capable of establishing the text, archaeological context and date of an inscription, and of providing a reading, translation and full epigraphic and historical commentary to a publishable standard. As a minimum, a good pass in Beginners' Latin is necessary. Desirable also is a reading knowledge of Italian, French and German. 

Assessment: Three coursework assignments: two epigraphic commentaries of c. 3,000 words (worth 60%) and one essay of c. 4,000 words (worth 40%).

Place: 11 Bedford Sq, Tuesdays 14.00-16.00

Roman Comedy and its Reception (half unit)

Dr Martin Dinter (King's)

Description: This module will provide an understanding of different approaches to the Reception of Roman Comedy. It will develop students' ability to evaluate how the writing of Plautus and Terence has shaped and is shaping the European comic tradition; It will develop students' understanding of the process of the reception of Roman Comedy in that it will examine which aspects of the cultural and historical context of Roman Comedy have been absorbed and re-interpreted through the ages in different genres such as theatre, film and musical. It will equip students to read, with critical understanding, a wide range of the major studies on Reception Studies and Theatre Studies with focus on the Reception of Roman Comedy.

Assessment: One 3 hour exam.

Place: Wednesdays 4:30-6:30

Roman Comedy (half unit)

Dr Martin Dinter (King's)

Description:This module will provide an understanding of the different approaches to Roman Comedy through the study of texts and paraphernalia.

  • It will develop students' understanding of the language and style of Roman Comedy, and their ability to evaluate its interaction with the content of writing of Plautus and Terence;
  • It will develop students' understanding of the cultural and historical context in which Roman Comedy was produced and staged and the issues of interpretation to which it gives rise;
  • It will equip students to read, with critical understanding, a wide range of the major studies of Roman Comedy

Assessment is by one 3 hour exam.

Place: Classics dept, Wednesdays 4:30-6:30

Medieval Latin Literature

Carlotta Dionisotti (King's)

Description: The module is in two parts. The first term is exploratory: students will read a substantial sample of verse and prose, concentrated in a particular period, normally c. 1100 - 1200 AD (e.g. accounts of the First Crusade and of the Murder of Thomas Becket, Carmina Burana, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Abelard). In the second term the class will learn how to edit a medieval Latin text. A good reading knowledge of Latin is required. The module on Latin Palaeography is highly recommended as a concurrent option. Assessment: in the first term by class presentation or essay (worth 25%); in the second term, editing of a section of text (worth 75%) where translation and commentary will show linguistic competence.

Place: , Monday 10:00-12:00



Professor Ahuvia Kahane (RHUL)

Description: A literary study of the Iliad and Odyssey, with close attention to eight books (four from each of the epics) which are studied in the original Greek. Topics considered will range from the texture of Homeric verse to the ideology of the Homeric poems.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each and one detailed commentary on the original Greek text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks).

Place: 11 Bedford Square GSB2 -ask porter for code for admittance (Thursdays 10:00 - 12:00)

The Ancient Novel

Dr Nick Lowe (RHUL)

Description: A course on Greek and Roman prose fiction, with texts studied in translation.  Principal texts will be Chariton, Chaireas and Callirhoe; Xenephon of Ephesus, Ephesiaca; Longus, Daphnis and Chloe; Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon; Heliodorus, Aethiopica; Petronius, Satyrica; Apuleius, Metamorphoses; Apollonius of Tyre.  Aspects to be studied will include origins and antecedents; genre and audience(s); cultural and literary contexts; narrative form and technique; ecphrasis and excursus; irony, parody, satire, and subversion; love, sexuality and the person; reflections and reinventions of history ethnicity and cultural self-definition in the Hellenistic and Imperial oikoumene; religion and religiosity; intimations of Christianity; and literacy and literary form between roll and codex.

Assessment: Three essays of 4000 words each.

Place: 2 Gower St B1, Mondays 2-4

Culture and Identity from Nero to Hadrian

Prof. Richard Alston (RHUL) and Dr Efi Spentzou (RHUL)

Description: The fall of the Roman Republic brought about a change in the cultural values of the Roman state. No longer was Rome a Republic in which it was possible to pretend that all citizens were equal, but now even the most powerful of Roman aristocrats were under the power of the Roman emperor and his servants. The period from the accession of Vespasian to the death of Hadrian saw a re-evaluation of cultural values in this new world . The new literature of the period played with traditional models and reworked them into sometimes disturbing, sometimes challenging, sometimes ironic depictions of contemporary society, either addressing the topic directly (through epistolary writers and historians) but other times indirectly, through the imaginative worlds of the poets. The period is, therefore, a particularly appropriate field of study to explore changes in literary and social convention and discussions about the meaning and purpose of literature and society, about what it is to be a man or woman in that society, and how individuals are to behave in their society. This course follows a variety of themes in literary and social history which come together in this period and draws on a variety of theoretical perspectives to attempt an understanding of being Roman in this crucial period in the evolution of Roman society. The two terms will be split into a term focusing on material in prose (Alston) and poetry (Spentzou). Assessment: Two essays of 5000-5500 words each.

Place: Bedford Square GSB1 (Thursdays 11:00-1:00)


Four Greek Plays

Professor Chris Carey (UCL), Dr Laura Swift (UCL), Dr Emmanuela Bakola (UCL)

Description: A study of three Greek tragedies and one Greek comedy in the original language. Topics considered will include style, interpretation, textual transmission, dramaturgy, staging, metre, and social, political and religious context.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each, and one detailed commentary on the original text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks).

Place: Gordon House 104 (Tuesdays 9-11)

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

> Four Greek Plays Moodle page


Professor Chris Carey (UCL) and Dr Rosie Harman (UCL)

Description: This dedicated MA module will explore one of the key texts of ancient Greek historiography and literature. It will be based on close reading (linguistic, literary, narratological, historical) of two of the nine books of Herodotus' Histories in Greek. The first term will be devoted to book 7 and will be led by Chris Carey; the second term will be devoted to book 8 and will be led by Rosie Harman.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each and one detailed commentary on the original Greek text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks). Place: Gordon House 104 (Thursdays 11-1)


Dr Matthew Robinson & Dr Fiachra Mac Góráin (UCL)

Description: This module will examine the poetry of Ovid, from his earliest works to the exile poetry. We will be looking not only at famous poems like the Metamorphoses and the Amores but also at lesser known but equally fascinating works like the Fasti and the Tristia. The poems will be placed in their social, historical and literary context. Topics that may be addressed include genre, narrative technique, style, allusion, humour, Ovid's attitude towards Augustus, and the subsequent influence and reception of Ovid's poetry.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

Assessment: Two essays of 4,000 words each, and one detailed commentary on the original text (each piece of work worth one third of the marks).
Place: Gordon House G09 (Mondays 2-4)

> Ovid Moodle page

Cicero: Rhetoric and Politics

Professor Gesine Manuwald (UCL)

This course will provide an introduction to Cicero the politician and orator as well a to key elements in the history and political life of the Roman Republic, by a close look at Cicero’s writings referring to his consular year. The course will focus on reading (in the original Latin) the two corpora of Cicero’s Agrarian Speeches and Catilinarian Orations (over the two terms), paying particular attention to his argument and political strategy and their adaptation in speeches on similar topics given before different bodies. There will be supplementary reading in English of some of Cicero’s letters, of excerpts from other speeches and of references to Cicero’s epic about his consulship. This will allow for discussion of issues such as aims and methods of Cicero’s shaping of his consular persona, his presentation of ‘historical facts’, his view of the Roman res publica or the possible reasons for the publication of these speeches and their later collection in a corpus.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.

Assessment: Two essays and one commentary of c. 4,000 words each.
Place: Gordon House 101 (Fridays 10-12)

>Cicero Moodle Page


Professor Gesine Manuwald (UCL) and Dr Fiachra Mac Góráin (UCL)

Description: This course will involve in-depth study of Virgil's three major works, the Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid.  Particular attention will be devoted to the poems' historical context and their relationship with contemporary political régimes.  We shall examine Virgil's creative engagement with his poetic and prose models in light of a range of theoretical perspectives. Specific topics will include form and content, gender and genre, ecphrasis and narrative technique, aetiology and national identity, characterization and the reception of Virgil.  Participants will be asked to read selections in Latin before each meeting, and also to read other passages in translation and from the scholarship.

This course can also be taken by students at UCL on other MA programmes as a 30 credit option. Assessment: One essay and one commentary of 4,000 words each.
: Two essays and one commentary of c. 4,000 words each.

Place: (24) Gordon Sq 105 (Fridays 2-4pm) and Gordon House 101 (Wednesdays 10-12 every other week beginning 12th October)

> Virgil Moodle page

Elementary Greek Palaeography:      See Byzantine Courses

Greek Papyrology

Dr Nick Gonis (UCL)

Description: This module aims to introduce participants to the study of Greek papyri, documentary as well as literary, and to offer training in editing them. Each class will focus on a small number of texts, one or two of which will be studied in detail on a photograph. The texts are chosen to illustrate the development of Greek cursive scripts and bookhands; to examine formal aspects of the transmission of Greek literature on papyrus; and to give an idea of the range of documentary types available as sources for the history of Egypt from the age of the Ptolemies to late antiquity.  A good knowledge of Greek is essential. Assessment will be by three written assignments.

Place: Gordon House 104 (Tuesdays 2-4)

.>Greek Papyrology Moodle Page

Byzantine Hagiography              See Byzantine courses