Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

MA Honours in Classical and Middle East Studies

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by:
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Classical and Middle East Studies
UCAS code: QT86
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s):

Languages and Related Studies, Area Studies, and Classics & Ancient History

Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: SHCA Quality Director
Date of production/revision: revised May 2012

External summary

The programme aims to develop student interest in, and knowledge and understanding of, the literature, culture and history of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Given the shared history and culture of this region, a critical understanding of both its ‘Classical’ and ‘Middle Eastern’ dimensions is highly desirable, but is rarely achieved in undergraduate education. Indeed, the problem of the cultural and political meaning of the heritage of the ‘Classical’ and ‘Oriental’ worlds remains a highly controversial question of pressing social and political importance. This is reflected in academic scholarship, in works such as Edward Said’s Orientalism, Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, and Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.

The study of the Classical and Middle Eastern worlds, in a multi-disciplinary manner, thereby affords the opportunity for the student to acquire a rounded view of East-West civilisations through the combination of philological, historical, art-historical, and cultural inquiry.

Such a programme is unique in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh’s strengths in both Classics and Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, together with significant expertise in relevant subjects elsewhere in the College of Humanities and Social Science make it particularly well placed to sustain a programme of such chronological depth and geographic and theoretical breadth. Graduates will be very well placed to pursue important postgraduate research. They will also bring important critical analytical skills and cultural and theoretical understanding into the wider marketplace, in the non-governmental sector, the Civil Service, industry, commerce, heritage industries and education.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims

  • to train students to interpret and analyse the shared heritage of both the ‘Classical World’ and the ‘Middle East’ (and thus also of ‘the West’ and ‘Islam’).
  • to allow students to gain an acquaintance of some of the main languages relevant to the study of the region and its history.
  • to allow students the opportunity of studying the history of a particular society or culture (e.g. Iran) from its pre-Islamic ancient foundations to the contemporary age.
  • to allow students to study Islam as a religion and the key methods of analysis in the study of Islam
  • to enable the student to identify and analyse for these purposes a variety of different forms of evidence (literary, epigraphic, papyrological, artistic, and archaeological).
  • to gain a knowledge of the history and politics of the modern Middle East and key methods of historical, cultural, and political analysis.
  • to teach students to think critically about the longue durée of east-west relations and the interaction of societies, political expression and cultural norms.
  • to enable students to embark on further study and research in Classics and/or Middle East Studies and to acquire methods and techniques needed for further study and research in the Arts and Humanities.
  • to develop the general critical, analytical and communicative skills which prepare students for vocational training, for a wide variety of employment opportunities, and for continued life-long learning.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

Graduates from the MA in Classical & Middle East Studies will possess and demonstrate

  • an understanding of other cultures, their histories, literatures, and material records, and ways of critically engaging with them
  • an understanding of the different value of various bodies of evidence for the study of different problems and topics
  • an understanding of a range of viewpoints on problems of interpretation and evaluation of the past
  • an acquaintance with the major genres of ancient and Middle Eastern classical (and other) literature and the literary conventions of these genres, major historical events and developments in antiquity, and beyond and major bodies of artistic and archaeological evidence
  • an understanding and critical appreciation of the thoughts, beliefs, ideas and concepts held in classical antiquity and the Middle East as expressed in the literature, history and material culture of the societies studied
  • an understanding of (esp.) economic, legal, social, cultural, ethical, and political responsibilities and issues surrounding the study of the past and its applications
  • an understanding of the role of the past and its study in the shaping of class, ethnic, gender, national and other identities with current, sometimes sensitive relevance
  • an understanding of how to enjoy the life of the mind with particular reference to an intellectual engagement with the ancient world

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Graduates from the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies will possess and demonstrate

  • an ability to draw valid conclusions about the past in the east and the west and to place the past into its wider cultural setting
  • an ability to apply philological, historical, religious, artistic and archaeological knowledge in the study and interpretation of ancient and more contemporary evidence
  • an ability to analyse and comment on the thoughts, beliefs, ideas and concepts of the region in key historical periods and take into consideration their social, political and historical contexts and of pertinent secondary literature
  • an ability to identify, define and analyse problems and issues pertaining to the study of the region  during a wide time period through the collection and interpretation of a wide range of primary sources
  • an ability to exercise critical judgement in the evaluation of the opinions and arguments of other scholars of the Classical and Middle Eastern worlds
  • an ability to think creatively and imaginatively in order to solve difficult philological, historical, artistic, and archaeological problems with often diverse and/or complex evidence
  • an ability to formulate own questions of the past and present, and to search for, evaluate and successfully employ relevant evidence and/or modern theories in answering these questions

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Graduates from the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies will possess and demonstrate

  • an ability to gather and evaluate complex and variegated data, and to organise this into complex and lengthy arguments of a religious, philological, historical, artistic and/or archaeological nature
  • ability to organise complex and lengthy arguments pertaining to the study of the region over a wide time period and to present well-reasoned conclusions
  • an ability to seek out source material independently and to employ that material in the analysis of problems and the answering of questions arising from the study of the region and its wide chronological scope
  • an ability to formulate an independent opinion on the basis of the evidence that is new or different to the views expressed by others
  • an ability to test, modify and strengthen one’s own views through collaboration and debate with peers and seniors
  • an ability to turn intellectual curiosity in the ancient and contemporary East-West worlds into the responsible study of an important aspect of the human past, and to relate that past to one’s own place in the world
  • an ability to analyse how national, cultural, religious, social or political assumptions and viewpoints can influence the study of the region and the roles and places of the different elements that made up the region
  • an ability to reflect on the role of the region through its history, religions, literatures and material cultures in the making of the modern world
  • an ability to reflect on the role of inquiry into the region and its varied pasts in the making of the modern world

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates from the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies will possess and demonstrate

  • an ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding
  • an ability to marshal argument lucidly, coherently and concisely, be it in writing or in speaking
  • an ability to think on their feet when presented with unexpected and/or unusual evidence, questions or topics and to propose remedies and answers in a clear and persuasive manner in the time given
  • an ability to present one’s views in collaboration with others, both in group discussion and in joint presentations
  • an ability to present lucidly the results of investigation to specialists and non-specialists alike, orally or in written form

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Graduates from the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies will possess and demonstrate

  • an ability to work independently and investigate purposefully
  • an ability to approach intellectual challenges with academic rigour and mental agility
  • an ability to think under pressure when addressing often difficult questions
  • an ability to manage and meet firm deadlines and to organise their own learning and workload to that effect
  • an ability to contribute to wider debates and issues on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of the ancient world that shows a high level of social responsibility
  • an ability to collaborate effectively with others, including peers and academic seniors such as tutors and lecturers, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills in ways that value personal difference

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Graduates from the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies will possess and demonstrate

  • a command of bibliographical and library research skills, as well as a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
  • an ability to employ a range of electronic resources and presentation aids, and means of electronic communication (e.g. electronic databases, powerpoint, wikis, etc.)

Programme structure and features

Modes of study: the standard mode of study for the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies is full-time.

Programme-specific entry, typical programme structure and progression requirements:

  • The programme is open to total beginners in the study of classical and middle East studies, the history, archaeology, or languages of the classical and middle Eastern worlds.
  • At first year level, two Classics ‘World-courses’ must be taken worth 40 credits in total (The Greek World 1a and 1b OR The Roman World 1a and 1b) AND Islamic History worth 40 credits.
  • In Year 2, 40 credits must be taken from courses in Classics (two of: AH 2a, AH 2b, Classical Art 2a, Classical Archaeology 2b, Classical Literature 2), and 40 credits from Islamic Studies (one of: Modern Middle Eastern History: Emergence and Encounters OR Introduction to Islam); not all course combinations are possible due to time-table restrictions.
  • A pass at 50% (at first attempt) is required in second-year in the chosen core courses worth 80 credits (see above) to progress to Honours in the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies.
  • At Honours level, students are required to take in each of the two Honours years 120 credits. In Year 4, 40 credits must come from the Dissertation, which can either be on a classical or a middle Eastern topic or a combination thereof.
  • 40 credits in Year 3 must come from course options in Classics and 40 credits from course option in IMES. A further 40 credits can come from either or a mix of both. Entry to specific Honours choices depends on the relevant prerequisites acquired at sub-honours level.
  • In Year 4, in addition to the 40 credit dissertation (see above), students must take a minimum of 20 credits in Honours choices in each of Classics and IMES, and will typically take 40 credits in each.
  • Arabic, Greek, Latin, Persian, and Turkish as offered by Classics and IMES respectively may be taken at all study levels as an outside option at beginners or continued (i.e. advanced) level up to 40 credits per year.
  • Assessment in the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies typically involves a combination of coursework and examinations. Full information on the programme and course specific learning outcomes and assessment practices are laid out clearly in the Classics Sub-Honours Handbook, the Classics Honours Handbook, and in specific course booklets available for each course of this programme.

SQCF credit points: courses at 1st and 2nd year level are at SQCF credit level 8; courses at Honours level are at SQCF credit level 10.

Exit awards: the MA in Classical and Middle East Studies (Honours) is the typical exit award for the programme after a normal study period of four years. Students who fail to progress into Honours or who experience difficulties with the completion of their Honours programme might be able to move to a General BA in the CAHSS subject to a number of conditions as laid out from time to time by CAHSS.

 

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims. The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

Specific activities will vary with course options taken, but may include:

In Year 1 (for core courses)

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials

In Year 2 (for core courses)

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials

In Year 3

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Practicals
  • Groupwork
  • Museum visits

In Year 4

  • Research Project
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Practicals
  • Groupwork

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 122780
Year 217830
Year 313870
Year 413870

Assessment methods and strategies

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.

Various assessment methods are used dependent on course options taken, but may include:

In Year 1 (for core courses)

  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Written Examinations
  • Seminar Presentations/Assignments

In Year 2 (for core courses)

  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Tutorial Logbook
  • Seminar Presentations/Assignments
  • Written Examinations

In Year 3

  • Essays
  • Written Examinations
  • Seminar Presentations/Assignments
  • Archive/Museum project
  • Workshop report
  • Practical Projects
  • Group Exercise

In Year 4

  • Dissertation
  • Essays
  • Written Examinations
  • Seminar Presentations/Assignments
  • Archive/Museum project
  • Workshop report
  • Practical Projects
  • Group Exercises

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 152147
Year 248052
Year 348646
Year 443354

Career opportunities

Classics graduates often progress to further study or careers in academia, teaching and museum work. Previous graduates have also gone on to work in law, accountancy, finance, IT, publishing or the Civil Service.

Other items

Students on this degree programme can do a non-compulsory year abroad in their third year, through ERASMUS or International Exchange.