Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Ancient Studies

A different approach, experience the antiquity from your own passion
Programme ofClassics and Ancient Civilizations 
TitleMA Classics and Ancient Civilizations


Transcending disciplinary boundaries
Hardly a single question on ancient society or culture can be solved if one limits the evidence to either written sources or archaeological material. Therefore the Master’s in Ancient Studies is designed as a multi-disciplinary programme. It offers a unique combination of historical, literary, and archaeological approaches from which the student can make a choice. In addition, the study of Greek, Latin, or Assyrian and Babylonian can be included in the programme.

Great Debates in Ancient Historical Studies
The core courses of the programme are 'Great Debates in Ancient Historical Studies I and II', both of which introduce students to some of the most pertinent debates within the field and give due attention to interdisciplinary research. Depending on your interests, you can choose one of four specialisations: Ancient Culture and Society, Ancient Studies & Assyrian/Babylonian, Ancient Studies & Greek, or Ancient Studies & Latin.

ACASA: Classics and Ancient Civilizations in Amsterdam
As of September 2012, the Master’s programmes Archaeology, and Classics and Ancient Civilizations will be jointly provided by the VU Amsterdam (VU) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) via the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA). Through this partnership, both universities are able to provide the broadest educational package the Netherlands has to offer in the field of Classical Antiquity.

You can tailor your Master’s programme in Ancient Studies to suit your own interests by a choice from one of the following specializations:

  • Ancient Culture and Society
  • Ancient Studies & Babylonian/Assyrian
  • Ancient Studies & Greek
  • Ancient Studies & Latin 

‘Ancient Culture and Society’ is designed for students who wish to study ancient societies and civilizations in a broader perspective. In the remaining three specializations students choose a specific region and/or cultural tradition (Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman), including the study of the pertinent language.

Ancient Culture and Society

Obligatory modules:
Period 1: Core course ‘Interdisciplinary Seminar: Rulers’ Ideology and Representation’.
Period 2: Core course ‘Great Debates in Ancient Historical Studies’ (introduction to a number of important debates among ancient historians and other students of Antiquity)
Period 3: Term paper
Periods 4-6: Master’s thesis

Electives:
The student draws up the remainder of his/her programme by making a choice from the courses and tutorials offered in the framework of ACASA. Students need to choose four electives/tutorials, to be evenly distributed over the periods 1,2, 4, and 5.

Period 1:

  • A  City Full of Gods: Roman Religion and Roman Imperialism
  • ‘From Christ to Constantine: Judaism and Christianity in their Graeco-Roman Contexts
  • The Objects of Religion: Material Culture at Sanctuaries
  • Approaches to the Late Iron Age and Roman Countryside
  • Archaeology, Museums and the Public
  • History of Philosophy: Beauty and Truth (and the Good). The aesthetics of rational being

Period 2:

  • ‘From Constantine to Muhammad: Religion and Society in Late Antiquity’.
  • Ceramics in Archaeology
  • Homeric Greece: Epics, Archaeology and the Wider Mediterranean World
  • Biography of Landscape
  • Imagining the Superhuman in Context 

Period 4:

  • City Life in the Roman Empire
  • Confrontations between Greek and Near Eastern Civilizations
  • The Archaeology of Conflict
  • The Beginning of Jewishness

Period 5:

  • Greek Elite Culture in the Roman Empire
  • Ancient Near Eastern History (tutorial about a subject from ANE history)
  • Archaeology and Society 
  • Money in Ancient and Medieval Society. An Archaeological View


The student may expect that approval will be given without further ado to advised combinations of electives. These are:

  • The Greek World from Homer to the Age of Constantine. Electives: ‘From Christ to Constantine’ (period 1), ‘Homeric Greece’ (period 2), ‘Confrontation between Greek and Eastern Civilizations’ (period 4), and ‘Greek Elite Culture in the Roman Empire’ (period 5).
  • The Roman World from Numa to Muhammad. Electives: ‘A City Full of Gods’, ‘From Christ to Constantine’, ‘Approaches to the Late Iron Age and Roman Countryside’ or ‘The Objects of Religion’ (period 1), ‘From Constantine to Muhammad’ (period 2), ‘City Life in the Roman Empire’ (period 4), ‘Greek Elite Culture in the Roman Empire’(period 5).
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology. Electives: ‘The Objects of Religion’ or ‘Approaches to Late Iron Age and Roman Countryside’ (period 1), ‘Homeric Greece’, ‘Ceramics in Archaeology’ or ‘Biography of Landscape’ (period 2), ‘The Archaeology of Conflict’ (period 4), and ‘Money in Ancient and Medieval Society’ (period 5).
  • Ancient Religions. Electives: ‘A City Full of Gods’ or ‘The objects of Religion’ (period 1), ‘Imagining the Superhuman in Context’ (period 2), ‘The Beginning of Jewishness’ (period 4), ‘Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture’ (period 5).
  • The Rise of Christianity. Electives: ‘From Christ to Constantine’ (period 1), ‘From Constantine to Muhammad’ (period 2), ‘The Beginning of Jewishness’ (period 4), ‘Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture’ (period 5).
  • Intellectual Life in Antiquity. Electives: ‘History of Philosophy: Beauty and Truth (and the Good). The aesthetics of rational being’ (period 1), ‘Imagining the Superhuman in Context’ (period 2), ‘The Beginning of Jewishness’ (period 4), and ‘Greek Elite Culture in the Roman Empire’ (period 5).

Ancient Studies & Babylonian/Assyrian


This specialization is only available for students with a BA in Ancient Studies with a major in Babylonian/Assyrian, or a BA in Ancient Civilizations of the Mediterranean World (track Languages and Cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia and Anatolia) from Leiden University. Students from abroad with a comparable BA (in Assyriology) are also welcome. We advise foreign students to contact the staff right in advance in order to discuss eligibility.

Obligatory modules:
Period 1: Core course ‘Interdisciplinary Seminar: Rulers’ Ideology and Representation’ (working title).
Period 2: Core course ‘Great Debates in Ancient Historical Studies’ (introduction to a number of important debates among ancient historians and other students of Antiquity)
Periods 1 and 2: Master Seminars Akkadian 1 and 2.
Period 3: Term paper.
Periods 4-6: ‘Confrontations between Greek and Near Eastern civilizations’; tutorial about a subject from the history of the Ancient Near East; Master’s thesis. 

Ancient Studies & Greek


This specialization is only available to students with a BA in Ancient Studies with a major in Greek or a BA in Greek and Latin Language and Culture.

Obligatory modules:
Period 1: Core course ‘Interdisciplinary Seminar: Rulers’ Ideology and Representation’ (working title); ‘Methodology: Intertextuality and Classical Storytelling’ (on intertextuality and narratology of classical texts, Greek and Latin).
Period 2: Core course ‘Great Debates in Ancient Historical Studies’ (introduction to a number of important debates among ancient historians and other students of Antiquity); ‘Greek Litera-ture’.
Period 3: tutorial on Later Greek and Latin Literature (focus on Later Greek Literature) or tutorial on another subject or Course Greek Epigraphy, including a stay at the Netherlands Institutein Athens.
Period 5: ‘Reception of Classical Literature’.

Ancient Studies & Latin

This specialization is only available to students with a BA in Ancient Studies with a major in Latin or a BA in Greek and Latin Language and Culture.

Obligatory modules:
Period 1: Core course ‘Interdisciplinary Seminar: Rulers’ Ideology and Representation’ (working title); ‘Methodology: Intertextuality and Classical Storytelling’ (on intertextuality and narratology of classical texts, Greek and Latin).
Period 2: Core course ‘Great Debates in Ancient Historical Studies’ (introduction to a number of important debates among ancient historians and other students of Antiquity); ‘Greek & Latin Linguistics’ (Latin part).
Period 3: tutorial on Later Greek and Latin Literature (focus om on Later Latin Literature).
Period 5: ‘Reception of Classical Literature’.

If you want to get access to the post-master programme ‘Leraar Latijnse Taal en Cultuur (LTC)’ (‘Teacher of Latin Language and Culture’) the course ‘Latin Literature’ is obligatory. In period 5 you follow ‘Reception of Classical Literature’.

Electives:
‘Latin literature’ or ‘Latin Epigraphy’ (both in period 4).

Classics & Ancient Civilizations: Ancient Studies courses in study guide (VU) and study guide (UvA).

Graduates of the MA in Ancient Studies can be employed in positions requiring an in-depth knowledge of antiquity. There are some specifically antiquarian-related jobs such as lecturer or museum employee. There are, however, also jobs that require academic skills such as conducting independent and critical research and then reporting on said research in a coherent, concise and clear manner. Some of the positions in which alumni of the MA in Ancient Studies have been employed include: 

  • profession educational (hbo) lecturer in ancient history;
  • pre-university education (vwo) lecturer in Latin;
  • pre-university education (vwo) lecturer in History;
  • librarian/subject librarian university library;
  • editor of an ancient studies magazine;
  • editor at a publishing house;
  • staff member at a museum (e.g. Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, Archeon in Alphen aan den Rijn);
  • organiser of cultural tours to the Mediterranean;
  • staff member at an academic bookshop;
  • staff member at Dutch institutes in Rome, Istanbul and Damascus;
  • staff member at various cultural institutions and services such as the Rijksdienst voor het Oudheidkundige Bodemonderzoek;
  • cultural attaché at an embassy in the Mediterranean;
  • information officer at a university, faculty, applied sciences university, council.

Finally, an ACASA master's programme in Ancient Studies prepares students very well for additional education on the Master or, eventually, PhD level.

If after your BA's you find yourself specifically interested in an academic career, depending on your results it is possible to take the two-year research Master’s programme in Ancient studies, which prepares you directly for research at PHD level at a university.

The two universities in Amsterdam have joined forces by setting up ACASA (Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology). As a result, they offer you the widest package of Master’s degree programmes in the field of Ancient studies in the Netherlands.

Lectures will be given both at VU Amsterdam and at the University of Amsterdam. It makes no difference which of the two universities you are enrolled at with regards to the composition of your degree programme, the choice of your specializations or who supervises your Master’s thesis: the choice of university is mainly a personal matter. As a rule, the name of the university you are enrolled at will be stated on your degree certificate.

Marthe Jonkers

Student

"Ancient studies is a unique and fascinating degree programme. It brings you in contact with all kinds of aspects of Greek, Roman and Mesopotamian antiquity: religion, language, philosophy, art, politics, archaeology and mythology. And in addition, you have the scope to concentrate on the aspects you find most interesting yourself. It was precisely the width of the study and the scope for self-development that made me choose this course."

Overview Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Ancient Studies

Language of instruction

English

Duration

1 year

Start date

1 September

Study type

Full-time

Field of Interest

Art, Culture and History

Koinon is an association for students who study Classics or Ancient Studies. Since we were established in 1988, we welcome everyone who is interested in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world or who is just looking to socialize. Each year we offer a variety of social and cultural activities, varying from lectures, evenings with board games, visits to museums and sporting activities.

We also offer a cultural trip once a year to a beautiful destination with a focus on the ancient world. Usually, we can be found in the main building of the VU, but you can also contact us through Facebook or by sending a mail to koinon.let@vu.nl.

During your master's programme it is possible to study abroad for a term. Many students will already have spent some time abroad during their Bachelor’s degree programme. The department of Ancient studies at VU Amsterdam has set up cooperation agreements in the UK with Durham and University College London;in Italy with Lecce, Potenza and Venice;in Belgium with Leuven and Göttingen. However, students also go to other universities such as Belfast, Barcelona, Padua, Berlin and Ankara.

Many graduates of Ancient studies have gained practical experience at excavations carried out by the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities at Tell Sabi Abyad in Syria. Further details may be found on the website www.sabi-abyad.nl. They also often work at excavation projects carried out by the VU Amsterdam or University of Amsterdam in southern Italy or Greece.

Further information on studying abroad

Dutch students

The Master’s programme Ancient Studies is open to students with a Bachelor’s degree from the UvA or the VU, or with a Bachelor’s degree or a recognized equivalent from another accredited university, in:

  • Greek and Latin Language and Culture
  • Ancient Greek Language and Culture
  • Latin Language and Culture
  • Assyriology
  • Ancient Studies
  • History*
  • Archaeology*

Note that admission requirements may vary with the chosen specialization. There are four specializations: Ancient History and Archaeology, Latin Language and Culture, Greek Language and Culture or Language and Culture of Mesopotamia. It goes without saying that for e.g. the specialization in Greek Language and Culture a BA major in Greek is required, and mutatis mutandis the same is true for the other specialisations.

* Provided that Mediterranean Archaeology and/or Ancient History have been adequately covered in your Bachelor’s programme. In addition to assessing the content of your Bachelor’s, the Admission Board will also take into consideration your study results and your motivation. 

Other Bachelor’s degrees
Prospective students with Bachelor’s degrees (university) other than those mentioned above can nonetheless apply for admission to the programme. In such cases the Admission Board will take a look at the content of the prospective student’s Bachelor programme, the study results obtained and general motivation.

Candidates with an HBO (higher professional education) qualification

Students with a higher professional education qualification cannot proceed directly to the Master’s programme in Ancient Studies. They will have to complete a Bachelor’s degree programme (or a short-track Bachelor’s programme) first.

Application Dutch students and international candidates with a Dutch degree

Students who wish to be admitted to the Master’s programme must register via Studielink for the degree course in Classics and Ancient Civilizations before 1 June.

After registration in Studielink you will receive an e-mail giving your log-in code for VUnet, the student portal of VU Amsterdam. You can complete your registration and upload your passport photo in VUnet. Here you need to register for your specific programme, in this case Ancient Studies. You also need to fill out the Faculty admission form.

Not a student of the Faculty of Humanities of VU Amsterdam?

In addition, you must e-mail the following documents to toelating.fgw@vu.nl:

  • application form (Dutch)
  • transcript of records (scan of original)
  • motivation letter
  • curriculum vitae

As soon as the notice of admission has been issued, you will be informed of this via Studielink. The notice of admission is issued by the Admission Board.

Further information

More information about admission and registration (Dutch) is available here.

For further information please contact:
Dr. Jaap-Jan Flinterman

ACASA (Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology)
Visit the ACASA website.

Information days
Meet us in Amsterdam!


International students


In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.

Specific admission requirements for the Master’s Programme Classics & Ancient Civilizations, specialization in Ancient Studies

The Ancient Studies specialization is open to students with a Bachelor’s degree in Greek and Latin Language and Culture; Ancient Greek Language and Culture; Latin Language and Culture; Assyriology; and Ancient Studies. Students of History or Archeology may also be eligible, provided that Mediterranean Archeology and/or Ancient History have been adequately covered. Admission requirements may vary per track.


You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a full high school/International Baccalaureate in English or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. You can already apply online without having the test results. In case you haven’t taken a test yet we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the English taught programmes at the Faculty of Humanities:

TOEFL score (score 600 paper based with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE, score 250 computer based or score 100 internet based with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests). IELTS score of 7.0 overall band score (with none of the separate section scores dropping below a minimum score of 6.5).
Cambridge English : Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.

Please refer to the language requirement page for the general requirements regarding the English language test.


Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application. If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required. 


Step 1: Meet admission criteria

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online

Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Motivation Letter
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcript of records
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing, at least 5 pages plus a list of used literature)
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
  • A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education

After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.

Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!


Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

Further information about;
Accommodation
Visa
Tuition fees

Contact for International Degree Students

For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:

Stipo Jeleč
Tel + 31 (0)20 598 8920
E admissionsfh@vu.nl


ACASA (Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology)
Visit the ACASA website.

International students:
For practical questions regarding your application, please contact:  
Irena Bunic
International Student Advisor
admissionsfh@vu.nl
t +31 (20) 59 85252

Information days
Meet us in Amsterdam!