Ph.D in Classics

Expectations:

Our program is designed to develop candidates’ skills to the highest level by developing competence in Greek and Latin and the relevant modern languages and by exposing candidates to a very wide range of academic approaches to the ancient world, thus taking advantage of the unique combination of disciplines in this department. Students’ progress is monitored constantly stage by stage to ensure that no aspect of their development is neglected. Up until the Comprehensive Examination the emphasis is on range and breadth; after that, students will be encouraged and enabled to narrow their focus so that they become world experts in their chosen dissertation topic. Our aim is to equip our graduating PhD students with all the professional skills they may need to attain a tenure-track teaching position and to carry out the varied responsibilities which such a position brings.

Under normal circumstances a student will be able to complete this program in 5 years.

Entrance Requirements:

Applicants must have a MA in Classics with a minimum of 24 credits at the graduate level of which at least 9 should be in each language.

Course Requirements

On the student’s entry to the program, the Classics Graduate Advisor will ensure that a supervisor and two other faculty members (together making up the Supervisory Committee of this student) are appointed. The student is encouraged to discuss possible thesis topics with the supervisor and/or the other committee members. Any changes in the composition of the committee (e.g., if a faculty member goes on leave) will be communicated to the student by the Graduate Advisor.

Candidates are expected to have reached a level of preparation sufficiently advanced to allow them successfully to complete 18 credits of graduate level courses beyond the MA.  These courses are to be chosen in consultation with the supervisor and then approved by the Classics Graduate Advisor. Students may, with permission of the Supervisory Committee, take a maximum of 3 credits in 500-level courses in other departments.

In addition, candidates are encouraged to make up any major deficiencies in their undergraduate or MA programs.  The Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies requires all students to have taken at some point in their academic training before the end of the second year of their doctoral program Classical Studies 330 or its equivalent.

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.

PhD Comprehensive Examination:

The Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies believes that 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. The process results in an identifiable and useful body of knowledge that is objectively examinable and fills the gaps in the candidate’s reading of central authors. Since these are comprehensive examinations, the lists are not tailored to individuals: they represent a canon that draws from many genres and time periods. Other readings will usually be required for a candidate’s individual area of study, but these are not examined in the comprehensive examination. While it may be that some works on these lists are covered as part of the candidate’s coursework, 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 coursework.

There are four elements in the Comprehensive Examination, as follows:

  1. Translation from unprepared passages in Greek and Latin.
  2. Translation from texts on the Greek PhD Reading List.
  3. Translation from texts on the Latin PhD Reading List
  4. An oral examination on Greek and Latin literature

1. Translation from unprepared passages in Greek and Latin.

A two-hour examination consisting of 4 passages, one Greek prose, one Greek verse, one Latin prose and one Latin verse, taken from authors on the MA Reading Lists but not from texts on the Reading Lists. Passages will be c. 10-15 lines in length. Candidates will translate all four passages; assessment will be based on the best three.

For the MA Reading Lists click here.

This examination will be taken at the following times until it is passed.

  • the second Tuesday of September in Year 1
  • the last Tuesday of November in Year 1
  • the last Tuesday of March of Year 1
  • the second Tuesday of September in Year 2
  • the last Tuesday of November in Year 2

Students may not take the remainder of the Comprehensive Examination until they have passed this examination in translation from unprepared passages in Greek and Latin.

The Classical Languages Committee (CLC) will set and grade this examination and report the results to the Head, to the Classics Graduate Advisor, and to the supervisory committee of each candidate.  The supervisory committee may either accept the CLC’s decision, or appeal it on a candidate’s behalf; appeals must be based on allegations of imparity, and the CLC should be prepared to demonstrate consistency of standards in setting and marking, both between candidates in a single cohort, and from one year to the next.

2. Translation from texts on the Greek PhD Reading List.

3. Translation from texts on the Latin PhD Reading List.

Two two-hour examinations each consisting of eight passages (four prose and four verse) of which the candidate must attempt any six.  Passages will be c. 10-15 lines in length.

This exam will be taken in the first two weeks of April of the second year of study, i.e. by April 15.

The Classical Languages Committee (CLC) will set and grade these examinations and report the results to the Head, to the Classics Graduate Advisor, and to the supervisory committee of each candidate. The supervisory committee may either accept the CLC’s decision, or appeal it on a candidate’s behalf; appeals must be based on allegations of imparity, and the CLC should be prepared to demonstrate consistency of standards in setting and marking, both between candidates in a single cohort, and from one year to the next.

Candidates who do not pass either or both of these exams will have only one opportunity for a retake, in the first two weeks of the following September, i.e. by September 15.  Candidates who are not successful on their second attempt will not continue in the program.

The texts on the Greek and Latin PhD Reading Lists are available as coursepacks from the UBC Bookstore. Examination passages for the relevant exams will be taken from these coursepacks.

For the Ph.D. Reading List click here.

4. Oral examination on Greek and Latin literature.

Candidates may only progress to the oral examination once they have passed both Reading List examinations.

This two-hour exam will be taken within two weeks of successful completion of the Reading List examinations, with four faculty present, chaired by the Graduate Advisor or her/his designate, i.e. by April 30 or, in the case of retakes, by September 30.  One hour of the exam will be devoted to questions about Greek literature and one hour to questions about Latin literature.  The questions will arise from the texts on the PhD Reading Lists; candidates will not be expected to know material beyond those texts, although credit will be given for breadth as well as depth of knowledge of classical literature.  The questions will focus on issues ranging from particular problems relating to specific texts to broader issues relating to the cultural context of the text and interpretive models we use when reading classical literature.  Sample questions will be made available to help candidates prepare themselves.

Ph.D Dissertation Prospectus

When the candidate has successfully completed all required course work, the Comprehensive Examination, and demonstrated knowledge of two modern languages apart from English, s/he will proceed to the dissertation prospectus.

The dissertation prospectus, prepared in consultation with the candidate’s supervisory committee, should be submitted to the Departmental Graduate Committee with the full approval and the signatures of all three members of the supervisory committee, within 5 months of successful completion of the Comprehensive Examinations (i.e. the target is Sept 30 of Year 3 of study). The prospectus must make good sense to academics outside the area of specialization and should accordingly include relevant explanation and detail at every stage; think of it as closer to a grant application or a book proposal than to the research essay. The prospectus should be 4000-5000 words in length, excluding bibliography, and should contain three components:

1) Description and Justification

This component should articulate as clearly as possible the “why” as well as the “what” of the dissertation. The prospectus should situate the dissertation in its field, showing how it develops or departs from previous research and what the writer hopes it will contribute to scholarship. It is crucial to situate the topic in relation to previous scholarship. The prospectus should also spell out the theoretical and methodological framework of the dissertation.

2) Plan

The prospectus is not a detailed blueprint and it allows for changes of direction. We do not expect precise conclusions to enquiries not yet fully entered to; it is more important at this stage to indicate the kinds of questions that will be posed in the dissertation. However, the prospectus should make clear the overall organisation of the dissertation as envisaged at this point in terms of potential chapters and the chief texts and/or topics to be addressed. A timeline for production of the chapters is not required but strongly recommended.

3) Bibliography

As a research tool, the bibliography is crucial: it demonstrates the candidate’s awareness of existing scholarship which may prove relevant to the topic of the dissertation. There is no expectation that the candidate will already have read the contents of the bibliography submitted in the prospectus, although candidates are encouraged to indicate the relevance of works that they have already looked at. Rather, the bibliography provides a plan for reading during the first months of study. It should be shaped by whatever categories are most suitable for the topic.

Excellence in the Prospectus will be determined by criteria including the originality and value of the project, the quality of research, and care of preparation and presentation. Should the Graduate Committee decide at this stage that the program of research has not yet been adequately described and rationalized, it will invite the student, in consultation with her/his supervisory committee, to revise the relevant portions of the prospectus for a second delivery within six weeks. If, on this second occasion, the Graduate Committee remains dissatisfied, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.