Oxford is widely acknowledged to contain one of the leading groups, arguably the leading group, of ancient philosophers in the world: ancient philosophy at Oxford is ranked top in the Philosophical Gourmet Report's breakdown of programmes by speciality. Through the MSt in Ancient Philosophy the Faculty aims to attract and select the best possible national and international scholars in the subject.
The MSt in Ancient Philosophy offers a graduate education in ancient philosophy of the highest possible quality and provides a foundation from which candidates can go on to pursue doctoral work in the area.
The Faculty intends to admit around 10 students for the course each year.
For information on how to make an application please see our Admissions Procedure and Entry Requirements webpage.
The course aims to allow students to specialise in at least two areas of ancient philosophy, and to write a thesis of 10,000-15,000 words. All students without adequate training in ancient Greek or Latin will be required to undergo specialist language training provided by the Faculty of Classics.
Subject Option A
The first subject option must be chosen from the list of undergraduate papers in ancient philosophy offered in the original language:
- 130. Plato: Republic
- 131. Plato: Theaetetus/Sophist
- 132. Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics
- 133. Aristotle: Physics
- 134. Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Pyrrhonism
- 135. Latin Philosophy
Tuition for this subject is normally provided in the form of one-to-one tutorials, usually in the first or second term. While the syllabi for these subjects are borrowed from the Faculty’s undergraduate courses, the teaching should be at Masters-level. Subject Option A is examined by one 5,000-word essay.
Subject Option B
The second subject consists of two classes, which run during the first and/or second term. The ‘subject options’ covered by the first class are different from those covered by the second class. Details of the classes and the subject options to be covered are published in the Graduate Student Handbook before the beginning of the academic year. Students must attend both classes.
Subject Option B is assessed by two essays of no more than 5,000 words on topics relevant to the subject options covered in the dedicated classes. The topics must be chosen by the student and approved by the Course Coordinator, and must not overlap substantially with the choice of option for Subject Option A. Students may choose either to write both essays on topics covered in one class or to write one essay on a topic covered in one class and the other essay on a topic covered in the other class.
The reading lists for both subjects will include texts both in the original language and in translation; students’ readings should be guided by their supervisor(s) according to their level of Ancient Greek and/or Latin.
Students are required to write a thesis (of 10,000-15,000 words) during the Easter vacation and their final term, to be submitted at the end of their final term. The thesis can be on a topic of the student’s choice, within ancient philosophy, but is subject to approval by the student’s supervisor and the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee.