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Interested? To learn more about this study programme, entry requirements and application process, please contact one of our consultants in a country nearest to you.

Programme structure

Core modules
Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric
The module will equip you with the basis of knowledge and understanding of the subject area necessary to pursue research in rhetoric, especially understanding of the classically-based disciplines of argumentation and rhetorical analysis. It will provide you with a range of research skills and methods, enabling you to complete your independent projects and dissertation successfully. The module will prepare you for further work at PhD level and offer an opportunity to reflect constructively on the significance of research in rhetoric for your future career. Topics covered may include: theory and practice of rhetoric including speechwriting, delivery and performance; speeches in literature, drama and historiography modern as well as classical; legal argumentation and the rhetoric of advocacy; political oratory; funerary orations and other types of epideictic oratory; appeals to emoions and character projection; ancient and modern rhetorical education and training; the Platonic tradition of scepticism about rhetoric, modern as well as ancient; methods for analysing rhetorical strategy, structure and style. In particular, students will have the opportunity to try out classical methods of rhetorical training in practice. All non-English texts are studied in translation.

Independent Project on Rhetoric 1
The topic of the project is to be decided in the first term and must be approved by the Programme Director. You will be encouraged to build on your previous experience and on your study of the topics covered in Problems and Methods in Oratory and Rhetoric and in any optional modules taken. You are encouraged to plan your work for the Independent Projects and for the dissertation as a coherent whole. The project may take the form of, for example, a self-standing essay on a topic in ancient or modern oratory and rhetoric, a ‘pilot’ study of an area to be covered in more detail in the dissertation and to be read in conjunction with it, a critical survey of scholarly literature on a particular subject in the field of oratory and rhetoric, a critical commentary and rhetorical analysis of an ancient or modern text, or a comparison of two or more texts from different cultures / periods from a rhetorical point of view. Students with a knowledge of Latin and / or Greek are encouraged to include work on texts in the original language(s).

Independent Project on Rhetoric 2
The topic of the project is to be decided in the first term and must be approved by the Programme Director. You will be encouraged to choose topics related to the topic envisaged for your dissertation and to plan your work for the Independent Projects and the dissertation as a coherent whole, though projects on less closely related topics in the field of rhetoric are also acceptable. It is intended that Project 2 should give the opportunity, should you who wish to do so, to undertake a more creative type of project, involving, for example, a piece of original composition applying and exemplifying the techniques of rhetoric and argumentation studies during the programme, a reconstruction of the performance of a speech, or similar. Supporting audiovisual materials may be submitted together with the material for assessment (e.g. a video of an oral presentation or performance of a speech) or, with the approval of the Programme Director, may be substituted for the written assessment either in whole or in part – in this case, specific guidelines regarding the scope of the alternative submission must be agreed in advance.

The topic of the dissertation to be decided in consultation with the Programme Director. Any topic within the broad field of rhetorical studies may be considered. Possible fields of enquiry include the following: Greek and / or Roman rhetoric; Greek and / or Roman oratory (including delivery); the history of rhetorical theory; practice and education in classical antiquity or in later periods, including non-European cultures; the influence of Greek and Roman oratory in later times, including political speeches, sermons, modern-day court practice and advocacy; the application of logical and rhetorical analysis to ancient and modern texts and oratorical performances; the role of rhetoric and oratory in political decision-making, ancient and modern. As an alternative to the conventional format of a dissertation or extended essay, the dissertation may take the form of a discursive commentary on a rhetorical or oratorical text.

Optional modules
In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Oratory and Identity
The module will cover rhetoric in action from early Greek history to the fourth century AD, embracing both Greek and Roman culture. All texts will be studied in English translation. The module will outline the history of the speech as a means to articulate identities, e.g. civic, political, religious, cultural, racial, gender. Certain key texts will be studied in detail to highlight the importance of structure and arrangement, use of rhetorical devices, argumentation, mechanisms of identity construction. These will be chosen from a wide range of authors and contexts, to illustrate the versatility of the genre: funeral speech, philosophical debate, ‘show-piece’ exercises, speeches of praise and satire, parody of the speech, religious sermons. A key aim of the module is to use these texts to show you how techniques used in one time period can be transferred and used, with modifications, in others.

Alternatively you may take an optional course or courses to the value of 40 credits to be chosen (subject to the approval of the Programme Director) from a list of courses offered by the Department, or by another department at Royal Holloway, or by other London institutions as part of the Intercollegiate MA programmes in Classics, Ancient History, or Late Antique and Byzantine Studies.

Career opportunities

Graduates of classical degrees have much to offer potential employers having developed a range of transferable skills, both practical and theoretical, whilst studying with us. With up to 90% of our most recent graduates now working or in further study, according to the Complete University Guide 2015, it’s true to say our graduates are highly employable.

In recent years, PhD graduates, many of whom have progressed from our MA programmes, have taken up academic positions at Oxford, Bristol and Roehampton Universities. Outside of academia, our graduates have embarked on teaching careers in the UK and overseas, undertaken archaeological and museum work and pursued careers in journalism, finance, politics and the arts.

With the MRes Rhetoric course designed to equip you with the skills of research, analysis, critical thought and communication graduates are best placed for continuing onto PhD studies or for pursuing non-academic careers, especially those involving communication (such as law, politics, the media, advertising, or teaching).

Apply now! Fall semester 2023/24
Application period has ended
Please see the university profile or contact us for the deadlines that apply to you
Apply now! Fall semester 2023/24
Application period has ended
Please see the university profile or contact us for the deadlines that apply to you