M.A. in Classics

**The Department has recently made some changes to the requirements in this program. These changes are currently being ratified by the UBC Senate and will be posted here as soon as they have been approved.  In the mean time, please do not assume that the details posted here about requirements are accurate, but instead address all queries about program requirements directly to the Director of Graduate Studies.


The M.A. in Classics is a two-year degree that allows students to gain the necessary proficiency in Greek and Latin to proceed to a Ph.D.   It is designed to provide core skills in philology, and to be flexible enough to allow for specialization in Ancient History, Literature, or Philosophy.

Entrance Requirements

Entry into the program requires preparation in Greek and Latin courses at the third year level (excepting GREK 325), plus a minimum of 6 credits in Greek and/or Latin
at the fourth year level, or the equivalent.   Students who have completed fewer credits than the above, or who are interested in studying only one language at the graduate level, are encouraged to consider  the M.A. in Ancient Culture, Religion, and Ethnicity.

Course Requirements

The degree will involve course-work and examination. On the student’s entry to the program, the Classics Graduate Adviser will ensure that a supervisor and two other faculty members (together making up the Supervisory Committee of this student) are appointed. Students will take 30 credits of course work, at least 18 of which will be in Greek and Latin numbered above 500 (excluding GREK 549 and LATN 549).  Not more than six credits at the graduate level may be in other subject areas (excluding CNRS 549) Students are expected to write a thesis worth 6 credits (GREK 549 or LATN 549 or CNRS 549) in the second year of their program, after due consultation with the Department.  (For details about the thesis, see Regulations for MA Thesis below.)  Up to 6 credits may, at the discretion of the Department, be in Greek or Latin at the undergraduate level.  The Comprehensive Examinations will be based exclusively on the Reading Lists (see below) and will involve translation of selected passages.

For a list of graduate seminars, past and present, click here.

Modern Language Requirement

Candidates must prove reading knowledge of one (for M.A. programs) or two (for Ph.D. programs) modern languages other than English appropriate to the field of study, selected in consultation with the Supervisory Committee. The modern language requirement must be satisfied before the end of the student’s second year in the program. Fulfillment of this requirement does not count towards the credit totals for a student’s degree.

There are 4 ways competency can be established:

  1. The completion of at least six credits of undergraduate study in the language (but not the history, literature, culture, etc.) at the 300 level or above. This may included “for reading knowledge” courses, such as FREN 341 (6), GERM 433 (3) and 434 (3), or ITAL 342 (3) and 343 (3).
  2. One year’s full-time study at the university level where the language of instruction was not English.
  3. The successful completion of a university-administered examination demonstrating competence (currently, such an examination is offered at UBC only for French).
  4. The successful completion of a CNERS-administered examination demonstrating competence.  When available, examinations will be offered at fixed times (usually in December) and made available to all graduate students in the department; eligibility is however subject to the approval of the student’s supervisory committee and the availability of resources.

M.A. Comprehensive Examination

Rationale for M.A. Comprehensive Examinations based on Reading Lists
In the view of the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, Reading Lists constitute the best way to prepare students in Classics with the general background of the field, by reading the original authors, literary, historical, and philosophical.  Preparation of Reading Lists results in an identifiable and useful body of knowledge that is objectively examinable, and fills the gaps in the candidate’s reading of major authors.  The lists represent a canon that draws from many genres and time periods and that is intended to fill out the candidate’s understanding of important works.  These lists are not tailored to individuals.  Other readings will usually be required for a candidate’s individual area of study, but these are not examined in the Comprehensive Examinations.  While it may be that some works on these lists are covered as part of the candidate’s course work, there is no expectation that they will be.   Students in the program should have the ability to work through all these texts on their own in addition to their course work.

Format for M.A. Comprehensive Examinations

  1. Candidates will write the comprehensive examinations in Greek and Latin within an inclusive five-day period between April 1st and 15th, normally in the second year of study.
  2. Candidates will be allowed three hours for each examination.
  3. Both examinations will be based on the M.A. Reading Lists. For the Reading Lists click here.
  4. Each of the two comprehensive examinations will be made up of 4 prose passages and 4 of verse passages; the candidate will be required to translate 3 of the prose and 3 of the verse passages in each examination.
  5. Each passage will be between 10 and 15 lines in length.
  6. The examinations in Greek and Latin will be marked separately as a “pass/fail” with a 76% needed to pass.

MA Thesis

Students in the Master of Arts program in Classics and ACRE have the option of writing a thesis. For this thesis students will enroll in Greek 549, Latin 549, or CNRS 549. Students who choose to write a thesis undertake to produce a lengthy piece of academic work at an advanced level demonstrating their mastery of core methods and primary materials. This thesis should be the best piece of academic writing that students have done, and consequently requires a commitment of at least 300 hours’ work over the course of the academic year.

MA thesis requirements – schedule and description:

By May 1st of Year 1: identification of supervisor and choice of topic, so that student can start preparing proposal over the summer. DGS to coordinate information.

By October 15th of Year 2: submission of proposal to supervisor.

Format of proposal: proposal to consist of a summary of 500-1000 words + bibliography.

Supervisor to review proposal, if necessary working with the student to hone it, with a view to accepting it or a modified form by October 31st. Once the proposal has been accepted by the supervisor, the DGS, working in consultation with the supervisor and the student, will identify two additional readers. This is to be done by November 30th.

By January 31st: submission of final draft, this draft to be read by both the supervisor and one other reader. Both these readers to return comments to the student by February 15th.

By March 15th: submission of final version, reflecting the comments of both readers.

Submission length: the thesis will be from a minimum of 15,000 words to a maximum of 18,000 words (excluding notes and bibliography).

Final submission format:

The thesis will include the following:

  • a table of contents,
  • footnotes or endnotes presented in a style approved by the supervisor,
  • a bibliography.

The thesis will be submitted in Times New Roman 12-point font, and will be double-spaced.

Submission procedures: students will submit four copies of the thesis: one for the supervisor, two for the other readers, and one for the Department.

Assessment: the thesis will be assessed by the supervisor and the two readers.

Oral exam: it is the supervisor’s responsibility to organize the oral exam. The oral exam will usually take place in late March/early April, in any case by April 10th (for spring graduations). The exam will be attended by the supervisor and the two readers and will be open to other faculty and students in the Department. The exam will start with a presentation by the candidate (15–20 minutes), followed by questions from the three assessors.

The supervisor and readers will all submit brief written reports (suggested: one paragraph) to the DGS soon after the exam.

Minimum standard: The thesis must meet a minimum standard of 76% to be assigned a Pass with Enrolment Services.

Reporting of assessment: when the thesis has been approved, the DGS will submit the grade to FoGS by the deadline laid down by FoGS (usually early May).

Any student not meeting the deadlines for spring graduation will be required to register again for the thesis for resubmission the following academic year with fees for an extra course.


For further information on the writing of theses, students are encouraged to check the large section called “Current Students” with its drop-down menu containing several relevant documents on the FOGS website (http://www.grad.ubc.ca/)

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