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Masters in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (RM)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Program overview
2 years
Full time
Master's degree
Start dates
September 2022

September 2023

September 2024

Program description

Masters in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (RM)

The research Master's programme aims to deliver well equipped researchers in the field of Ancient Studies: Classics, Archaeology, Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. It focuses on the cultures and societies of the Mediterranean region, Western Europe and Western Asia in the period from c. 1600 BC to 500 AD.&;

The programme offers a good mix of disciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and research. Disciplinary because the programme builds on the specializations offered in your Bachelor's programme; interdisciplinary because you make use of the results of related disciplines during the so-called 'core courses'. These are two interdisciplinary courses, in which members of the teaching staff from various disciplines from the department of Archaeology, Classics and Near Eastern Studies teach you how to approach a shared research theme from different perspectives and to provide theoretical underpinning for this theme.

Opting for the research Master’s programme will bring you into an inspiring research environment. The department of Archaeology, Classics and Near Eastern Studies has been extremely successful of recent years in creating research opportunities for doctoral and postdoctoral research students, including large thematic projects which have room for a number of doctoral and postdoctoral research students.

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Admission requirements

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. 

You can be admitted to the Research Master’s programme if you have a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology, Greek and Latin language and culture, Ancient Studies (Oudheidwetenschappen), or History with Ancient Studies as specialization, and if you meet the following further requirements:

  • you received a mark of 7.5 (in 10-point scale; or equivalent in a different scale) or more for your Bachelor’s thesis.
  • your average mark for a set of relevant subjects, as determined by the Examination Board, was 7,5 (or equivalent) or higher.
  • the Bachelor’s thesis and projects' reports from your Bachelor’s programme, show that you have appreciable research skills.

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).
  • IELTSscore 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 check the requirements page for the general requirements.

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Program content

The research Master’s programme in Classics and Ancient Civilizations starts in September each year. The degree programme lasts two years, full-time. Part-time study is not possible.

Students follow a highly specialized, individualized study programme and therefore receive close personal supervision from their assigned mentors.

Six specializations

The research Master’s programme is not formally separated into different tracks, but by way of suggestion, there are a number of specializations. These are clusters of electives which cover the research interests of the various members of the teaching staff. These clusters offer students a basis for filling in their own individual study programmes in consultation with their mentor. The following specializations are now available:

  • Ancient Studies
  • Ancient History
  • Classics
  • Landscape and Heritage
  • Mediterranean Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Northwestern Europe

For students with an interest in Babylonian/Assyrian languages and culture, the Ancient Studies specialization offers Advanced Akkadian courses as well.

Structure of the programme

The Master’s programme comprises the following main elements:

  • two core modules  (18 ECTS credits)
  • two modules on research design (12 ECTS credits)
  • courses taught at a national Research School (at least 10 ECTS credits)
  • a number of specialized modules (courses partly shared with the one-year ACASA MA programmes or courses taken abroad); the choice of these modules will depend strongly on the specialization you choose (30 ECTS credits)
  • tutorials (up to 24 ECTS credits);
  • a final thesis (30 ECTS credits)

On completion of this degree programme, you will receive the title of Master of Arts (MA).

Core modules
The two core modules are specially designed for this research Master’s programme and are taught once every two years (alternating). These interdisciplinary courses will introduce you to various research perspectives and traditions.

  • The Core Course Text and Matter (12 ECTS) deals specifically with the combination of textual and material sources in one’s research. This issue is illustrated by means of a theme, for instance ‘Popular vs. Elite Culture’ or ‘Warfare and Collective Violence’. 
  • The Core Course Interdisciplinary Theme (6 ECTS) deals with other forms of interdisciplinarity, for instance the use of social scientific theory or political history in textual and archaeological research. Themes chosen in past courses include ‘Politics, Culture and Propaganda’ and ‘Ethnic Identity in Antiquity’.

Research Design: Courses in academic English and in writing research applications
The Research Design courses have also been developed for Research Master’s students only. Applying for the funds needed for research is an important part of an academic career. These courses explains the various possibilities in this field and includes the writing of a research grant application. Students will also be  taught how to write good academic English and receive feedback on the research plan for their final thesis. 

Courses taught at a national Research School
All Research Master’s students need to follow courses (worth at least 10 ECTS) developed by the Netherlands School of Archaeological Research, ARCHON, or the Dutch National Graduate School in Classical Studies, OIKOS. These courses are followed mainly by Research Master’s students and PhD students. 

Specialized modules
There is room for at least 30 ECTS worth of electives (5 courses). Some of these courses were developed specially for this research Master’s programme, others are taken from a the ACASA one-year Master’s programmes. Depending on your specialization, you can choose from a broad range of courses in Northwest European Archaeology, Mediterranean Archaeology, Near Eastern Archaeology, Ancient History, Heritage, Classics, and ancient Semitic languages. For students who specialize in Classics the Editing and Commenting Technique Module is compulsory (6 ECTS)

In tutorials (up to 24 ECTS) you work on a particular topic with individual supervision from an experienced researcher. The topic selected will often be closely related to that of your Master’s thesis.

The Master’s thesis contains a description of an independent study of a topic of your choice in your particular field within the domain of Classics and Ancient Civilizations. You will receive individual supervision by a member of the teaching staff during the process. Outstanding Master’s theses may form the basis of a PhD study on the same or a related topic.

Scholarships & funding

With our own scholarship, the VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP), we offer highly motivated students with excellent study results the unique opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree with financial support provided by the university. The VUFP scholarship is a tuition fee waiver. The Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP) is meant for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to follow a Master’s programme in the Netherlands. VU Amsterdam embraces diversity as an enrichment to our teaching, research and our contribution to society. This scholarship is specifically intended for excellent students who contribute to the diversity at our campus. As an international student planning to study at VU Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries.

Tuition fees

  • Tuition fee for EU: € 1,084
  • Tuition fee for NON-EU/EEA: € 10,356


MA in Classics and Ancient Civilizations

Continuing studies

Academic career

The research Master’s programme in Classics and Ancient Civilizations is the ideal stepping stone to an academic career in the field of Archaeology, Classics, Ancient history or Assyriology of the first millennium BC. It opens the way to doctoral research at a university or research institute. There are currently a total of 26 doctoral students and 4 postdoctoral students in the department of Ancient Studies and Archaeology. We aim to increase the number of doctoral students in the near future, so if you do well in your research Master’s programme, you stand a good chance of being accepted for a doctoral study at VU Amsterdam.


The Faculty of Arts at VU Amsterdam offers a number of fully paid PhD studentships each year for doctoral students who submit a good research proposal that is in line with the Faculty’s research programme. There are also a number of research projects at the department of Ancient Studies funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)

Other options

The research Master’s programme Classics and Ancient Civilizations does not just train students to be academic researchers. You can find our alumni in challenging and interesting jobs as an archaeologist, classicist or consultant in archaeology firms, in museums of classical antiquity, in government services, in university libraries or as a science editor for a newspaper or magazine. Or if you want to go into teaching, you can become a university lecturer or a lecturer in higher professional education (HBO). Those who obtain their degree and have taken at least 60 ECTS worth of archaeology courses, are entitled to registration in the Dutch Register of Archaeologists.

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About this institute

Welcome to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (‘VU Amsterdam’) is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English-taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to more than 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff...

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Why study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

With more than 24,000 students, of which 4,088 are international, VU Amsterdam conducts cutting-edge research into problems of societal and scientific importance.

They distinguish themselves in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes:

  • Human Health and Life Sciences
  • Science for Sustainability
  • Connected World
  • Governance for Society

As a student this will help you to look beyond the boundaries of scientific disciplines, and to seek for tangible solutions for a better world.

In addition, VU Amsterdam regards diversity, whether in culture, conviction, nationality or prior education, as source of innovation and progress, and hence as special strength.

The Dutch higher education system has been ranked in the top 10 by Universitas 21. In the first Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking, VU Amsterdam is ranked 16th worldwide. In this ranking, universities are assessed based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to measure the impact of the universities on society. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 (Shanghai Ranking) VU Amsterdam holds the 104th position. The international QS World University ranking 2021 places the Vrije Universiteit at number 236 in the world, which means the Vrije Universiteit belongs to the top 20% of the world.

At VU Amsterdam, the teaching style can be described as student-centred: they encourage students to develop their own opinions through independent and creative thinking. This means that teaching is mainly conducted in small tutorials, where interactivity is the norm rather than the exception. At every opportunity, students are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue with their professors.

Contact info

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands, the

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