Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to Q8K707


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To foster development of research skills and, in accordance with the general aims of the programme, to help prepare students for independent academic research in the field of Classics in general, and Ancient Philosophy in particular.


  • Supervisions, according to a pattern agreed between student and supervisor; weekly MA Research Seminars which build key skills for graduate research in Classics and support the development of students’ dissertations; regular attendance at designated Departmental research seminars.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The topic of the dissertation will lie within the field of ancient philosophy. It will be decided in consultation between the student and their dissertation supervisor, who will be an ancient philosophy specialist. The student will be expected to develop and demonstrate in the dissertation good knowledge of the primary evidence relevant to their topic, of the scholarly status quaestionis and relevant secondary literature, and of the research methodologies appropriate to the material and topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The dissertation provides the major focus for the practice and application of research skills acquired through other modules in the programme, especially those relevant to higher research in ancient philosophy. Students are expected to demonstrate in it the ability to handle relevant evidence-types with a reasonable level of theoretical sophistication (including reflective awareness of methodology) and logical clarity; the ability to develop and locate work in a wider, reflective theoretical context; the ability to engage with 'unmediated' primary evidence, including ancient texts in the original languages; the ability to locate and access relevant secondary literature, including, where relevant, secondary literature written in other modern languages, and the ability to plan larger-scale research projects on the basis of good bibliographical skills and reflective awareness of available methodologies.
Key Skills:
  • Successful completion of the dissertation requires effective time management and the capacity to plan a major piece of work over a long period of time; the effective use of libraries, and IT resources; the ability to engage in reflective and self-directed learning, and the ability to express the findings of research in clear written form, and according to appropriate stylistic conventions.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Summative assessment for the module is by 15,000 word dissertation (100%). The dissertation is intended to represent a substantial enough piece of independent research relative to the length of the programme to allow the student to demonstrate the full range of their skill in research and written presentation, and their capacity for further independent research in the field of ancient philosophy. Since the learning outcomes amount to the student’s becoming an independent researcher in this field, and since the module is intended to draw on skills and knowledge acquired in other modules the teaching and learning context for the dissertation is more one of student support than information delivery.
  • Every student is allocated a supervisor, who will be an expert in ancient philosophy. Tutorial-style supervision allows focused and detailed discussion of the student’s individual research project, and allows high-quality and specific guidance on relevant materials and methodologies, and personalised feedback on the progress of the argument. Supervisions are expected to cover matters such as the evidence and scholarly context of the student’s work, the theoretical analysis they bring to the primary evidence, and the manner in which their conclusions are written up and presented.
  • In addition to individual dissertation supervision, students will attend a weekly MA Research Seminar (1.5h per week). The aim of the Seminar is to support students in their acquisition of skills and training in Classical Research appropriate to study at Level 4. In particular, this means that it facilitates their acquisition of the skills necessary not only for the preparation of their MA dissertation but also for progression to independent research at a higher level. In the first term the MA Research Seminar will focus on broad skills training, introducing students to key research methodologies and resources in the discipline. In the second term students will give presentations and receive feedback from their peers and the module convenor on their developing dissertation research, leading up to the submission of the formative dissertation proposal at the end of this term.
  • Contact with the dissertation supervisor and participation in the MA Research Seminar is complemented by attendance at the Departmental Research Seminar, the Work-in-Progress Seminar and the Junior Work-in-Progress Seminar. Students are thereby encouraged to engage with other research projects, and in this way develop a deeper appreciation of the wider context of Classical Studies in which their work in ancient philosophy is situated, and an insight into methodologies and approaches with which they might not have been familiar.
  • Formative work consists of a book review (1,000 words), a dissertation proposal (1,000 words), one chapter of the dissertation and one complete draft of the dissertation.
  • The dissertation is to be submitted no later than the date specified by the Department Office. One hard copy must be submitted, and one electronic copy. The word limit of 15,000 words includes footnotes, appendices &c. (unless specific dispensation has been allowed, for example to include primary texts in appendices), but excludes the abstract and the bibliography.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 5 As agreed 1 hr 5
MA Research Seminar 20 Weekly 1.5 hr 30
Preparation and Reading 565
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation (Ancient Philosophy) 15,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

• One formative book review, at the end of Michaelmas Term (1,000 words) • One formative proposal, at the end of Epiphany Term (1,000 words) • One draft dissertation chapter • One full draft of the dissertation

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University