Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Classics

Linguistics, literature and cultural history of the Greco-Roman antiquity
Programme ofClassics and Ancient Civilizations
TitleMA Classics and Ancient Civilizations

Explore the languages, literatures and cultures of the ancient world.

The faculty of Classics at VU Amsterdam combines expertise from a wide range of fields such as Greek and Latin literature and linguistics, ancient Christianity, Byzantinology, ancient philosophy, intertextuality, narratology, reception studies and textual criticism. This allows you to explore your interests in many different areas within the field of classical studies.

The Master of Classics offers the following seven courses:

  1. Methodology: Intertextuality and Classical Storytelling
  2. Interdisciplinary seminar
  3. Greek and Latin linguistics
  4. Greek literature
  5. Reception of Classical literature
  6. Latin literature
  7. Late Greek and late Latin

All courses comprise six credits.

For those who wish to follow the Educational Master Greek and Latin (Lerarenopleiding Griekse en Latijnse taal en cultuur) after obtaining their master’s degree in Classics it is obligatory to follow courses 1, 3, 4 and 6. In addition, they are required to follow either course 2 or course 5. Those who do not wish to follow the Educational Master are required to follow courses 1 and 2 and to select two courses from courses 3, 6 and 7.

In addition to the obligatory courses you can choose ACASA courses or tutorials in the fields of language, ancient history, archaeology, philosophy and theology.

Your masters programme is concluded with the master’s thesis worth/of 18 credits. The master’s thesis reports on research carried out by the student under the supervision of an academic staff member involved in the Classics programme. The subject of the thesis is mutually agreed upon by the student and the academic adviser. 

Course Description

The course “Methodology” aims at giving a thorough introduction to two specific aspects of the study of classical literature. The part on intertextuality deals with the way in which authors overtly and/or covertly refer to previous texts. The part on Classical Storytelling is devoted to various aspects of narratology, such as focalisation, characterisation by speech and so on. 

The subject of the interdisciplinary seminar is emperor Augustus. This course examines Augustus’ presence in art, politics and literature from an interdisciplinary perspective, with contributions by archaeologists, historians, philologists and cultural historians. 

The module “Greek and Latin Linguistics” will introduce you to current views on pragmatics and stylistics, and on the relationship between these two approaches. You will be trained in those forms of close reading that elucidate the structure (and meaning) of complex sentences and texts. In the seminar “Greek literature” you will read large extracts of both Iliad and Odyssey (in Greek) and discuss, on the basis of secondary literature, important aspects of and approaches to these texts: 1) the meaning of words; 2) oral theory; 3) epithets; 4) similes; 5) narratology; 6) intertextuality; 7) historical background; 8) relation with Near Eastern literature (Gilgamesj); 9) depiction in art (vase paintings). 

The course “Reception of Classical literature” will introduce you to reception theory in general and give you insight in the function of the classics in the cultural history of the later 18th, the 19th and the early 20th century, such as  the reception of the classics by De Tachtigers and Dutch Symbolist and Modernist poetry. 

The course “Latin literature” will be devoted to the Flavian poet Silius Italicus and his epic Punica on the war of the Romans against Hannibal. The Punica, which is currently experiencing a major revival, well illustrates a defining feature of Flavian poetry: its pervasive interaction with the literary tradition. You will study the subtle ways in which meaning is created or altered through allusive interplay. 

The module “Late Greek and late Latin”, finally, will offer you the possibility to get acquainted with texts which do not belong to the standard canon. For Greek you will follow courses on authors of late Antiquity or the Byzantine period. For Latin you will read texts written in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 

Outside the field of Classics in the strict sense you can also choose various optional modules from ACASA generous offer to enrich your study plan. These include language modules and modules or tutorials in the field of ancient history, archaeology, philosophy and theology. The module focusing on teaching applications (annually changing themes, approached from interdisciplinary perspectives), will be of special interest to students who are thinking of making a career in teaching.

Educational Master

If you want to become a fully qualified teacher of Classics at secondary school level in The Netherlands you can follow the one-year Educational Master (Lerarenopleiding Griekse en Latijnse taal en cultuur) after completing your Masters programme in Classics.

Check here for further information about the teacher’s training course


The programme comprises 60 ECTS credits:

  • 42 credits for courses and tutorials
  • 18 credits for a Master's thesis

Classics & Ancient Civilizations: Classics courses in study guide.

After having obtained your Masters degree in Classics you can opt for several types of employment which are specifically related to your academic training. The most obvious are the positions of Classics teacher at a secondary school or researcher at a university.

Masters in Classics also find employment in cultural and educational institutes, such as libraries, publishing houses, and museums. Others enter professions where the general academic skills of a Master of Classics are highly appreciated. Because a Master of Classics has proved to be able to successfully complete a intellectually demanding study and because he/she is excellently versed in the use of language in all its aspects, he/she is qualified to become a highly valued employee in many different fields such as business, information technology, advertising and administration.

Examples of professions entered by classicists:

• Academia
• Arts Management
• Information Officer
• Information Technology
• Journalism
• Librarian
• Media
• Museum Work
• Policy Officer
• Politics
• Publishing
• Teaching 

Educational Master

If you want to become a fully qualified teacher of Classics at secondary school level in the Netherlands you can follow the one-year Educational Master (Lerarenopleiding Griekse en Latijnse taal en cultuur) after completing your masters programme in Classics.

For further information about the VU teacher’s training course (Dutch)

The Classics Department at VU Amsterdam is a friendly community and a stimulating intellectual environment in which students, teachers and researchers work closely together. The expertise of the faculty covers a wide range of areas within classical studies such as Greek and Latin literature, ancient Christianity, Byzantinology, ancient philosophy, intertextuality and narratology. Special strengths of Classics at VU Amsterdam are Greek and Latin linguistics, intertextuality and reception studies and textual criticism. 

If you want to deepen your knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages and literatures even further, you can participate in the Classics Summer School, which takes place in Amsterdam in August. At the Summer School, advanced courses are offered on a rich array of topics such as Greek and Latin grammar, Aeschylus, Erasmus, Homer, Lucian, Theocritus, Thucydides and Vergil. There are also lectures by prominent classicists and various social events. 

VU Amsterdam is located in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, one of the most vibrant cultural and cosmopolitan cities of the world.

Synkratos is an association for students who study Classics or Ancient Studies. Ancient Studies 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 an appealing destination linked to 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

Zoe Ntonta


Zoe Ntonta

''Studying at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. The university welcomed me with a lot of warmth and helped me to develop my skills, such as critical thought, the capability of composing long assignments and becoming more creative by brainstorming about new ideas. After completing my Thesis, I feel that I am a new person with a more organized thought and experience in the Academic community. In addition, the majority of the Professors and Lecturers were truly approachable, down to earth and open to students’ new ideas. Overall, I would recommend Vrije Universiteit to everyone out there who wants to participate in a challenging Master programme and wants to meet people from all around the world!''

Overview Classics and Ancient Civilizations: Classics




1 year


1 June


1 September




Linguistics and Narratology; Intertextuality and Reception


Art, Culture and History

Dutch students

Students with a Bachelor’s degree in Greek and Latin Language and Culture can be admitted to the Master’s programme in Classics. Admission on the basis of other related Bachelor’s degrees is at the discretion of the Admission Board.

Candidates with an HBO (higher professional education) qualification

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

Application for students with a Dutch degree

If you wish to be admitted to the Master’s programme in Classics, you are required to register via Studielink for the Master's programme in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (60 ECTS credits) before June 1st.

After you have applied for the master in Studielink, you will receive within  two days emails with your login details for VUnet (VU studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet . Don’t forget to fill in your specialization on VUnet : Classics.

During this step you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Transcript of records (scan from original)
  • Course descriptions (i.e. for courses related to the discipline of the Master, and for courses on general academic skills)
  • List of literature (the most important literature used for the courses)
  • CV
  • Motivation letter (max. one A4)

Please prepare these documents before you're going to complete your application in VUnet!

Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board of Faculty of Humanities. You will be informed whether you have been admitted via Studielink.

For further information please contact:
Prof. dr. Gerard Boter

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 Classics

Students with a Bachelor’s degree in Greek and Latin Language and Culture are eligible for admission to the specialization in Classics.

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:
Tuition fees

As an international student planning to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries.
Detailed information about scholarships and deadlines can be found on or

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

International students:
For practical questions regarding your application please contact: 
Irena Paap
International Student Advisor
t +31 (20) 59 85252

Information days
Meet us in Amsterdam!

Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed here on this webpage:

Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!

Sean Keller


Sean Keller

"During the Bachelor’s degree programme I read the ‘canonical’ texts, which were extensively analysed and discussed in class. These classes sparked my interest for subjects that were unfortunately – but logically – not taught in the Bachelor’s programme. The Master’s programme at the VU offered the perfect solution! The Master Classics & Ancient Civilizations offers the opportunity to construct your own research programme by choosing courses that fit your research interests. Tutorials are particularly inspiring, as the student-teacher contact is very personal and encourages you to leave the beaten track and to come to your own interpretations and conclusions. The Master’s programme at the VU was so inspiring to me that I will now embark on a PhD!"