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  • Unearthing Greek settlements in Italy

    Shanna Ingram is a fourth year biology student with a minor in classics. Under the direction of associate professor Spencer Pope, Faculty of Humanities, she and a team of students traveled to Metaponto, Italy. The goal: To piece together the history and artifacts of the ancient Greek settlement of Metaponto.

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  • The “Villa di Tito” archaeological project is revealing what life was like in a Roman villa in the foothills of the Apennines

    The construction of elaborate country villas by members of the Roman elite was one of the defining architectural, cultural and economic phenomena of the Roman world.

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  • Katherine Dunbabin, professor emerita, elected as fellow of the British Academy

    Dr. Dunbabin, who retired from McMaster in 2006, is one of 76 academics who have been named fellows this year.

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  • Piecing Together the Rich History of the Ancient City of Metaponto

    Dr. Spencer Pope, an archaeologist and professor of Classics at McMaster, is working his way backwards in time from modern Italy through the Roman empire, going back nearly 2,600 years in total, to a period when the city of Metaponto was a major Greek settlement on the Mediterranean.

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  • Apply to Classics Graduate Programs at McMaster University

    The online MA and PhD applications (Fall 2019 entry) are now open.

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  • Presentation of the Centre for Ancient Numismatics

    McMaster University and the Department of Classics are pleased to announce the launch of the Centre for Ancient Numismatics (CAN). The CAN creates a platform for hands-on, interactive learning and dynamic research focused on ancient coinage.

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  • Parthenon may have been the Fort Knox of Ancient Athens

    Researchers have discovered evidence that suggests that the Parthenon may have stored millions of coins.

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  • Find out what our Undergraduate experience can offer you

    McMaster Classics graduates have found careers in fields as diverse as law, publishing, teaching, theatre, and more. Find out what we have to offer!

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Department of Classics

Classics is the study of the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, especially Greece and Rome, and as such embraces a number of disciplines, including archaeology, art history, history, literature, and philosophy. As the basis of western thought and culture, the study of the Classics remains a critical and essential foundation for all Humanistic inquiry. It is the origin of the Liberal Arts and the original interdisciplinary subject. McMaster boasts one of the oldest and best-reputed Classics departments in Canada, which, unlike many departments, encompasses all the classical disciplines and offers programs at all levels, BA, MA, and PhD.

Among the vast array of topics that are studied in the Classics are: the earliest western literature; the first democracies; the origins of science and philosophy; the invention of tragedy and comedy; classical painting, sculpture, and architecture; the history of warfare (including the Greek hoplite and Roman legion); the Olympic Games; gladiators; gender and sexuality in ancient society; slavery; and ancient religion and ethnicity.

We prioritize the creation of well-rounded undergraduate students whose knowledge of classical civilization grows in tandem with their abilities in research, critical thinking, writing, and oral presentation. Our students enjoy opportunities to gain hands-on experience at archaeological excavations and to pursue research projects in the Mediterranean. There are also opportunities to work with the coin and antiquities collections of the McMaster Museum of Art.

We offer Greek and Latin courses from a beginner’s level, but Greek and Latin are not required for the undergraduate degree. Training in the ancient languages is required, however, for entry into postgraduate programs (including our own), so we encourage students who might want to go on to further study to take as much Greek and Latin as possible (ideally one year of each language in all four years of an honours BA).

McMaster has a long-established and highly-esteemed graduate program. Graduates hold tenured or tenure-track positions at Acadia, Brock, Calgary, Concordia, Laurentian, McMaster, and Trent in Canada, and abroad at Leeds (UK), Penn State (US), and Auckland (New Zealand). Recent graduates of our MA have entered graduate programs at Canadian universities (e.g., Toronto, UBC), as well as at many US institutions (e.g., Stanford, Duke, Michigan, UNC Chapel Hill, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Emory) and at universities in the United Kingdom (Oxford, Cambridge).

A Classics BA provides an excellent foundation for post-graduate degrees, not only in Classics or History, but also in areas such as law, medicine, library and museum science, publishing, and information technology, and is an excellent complement to other subjects in the Humanities or Social Sciences in a double-major program (including History, Art History, Philosophy, English and Cultural Studies, Communication Studies, Linguistics, Anthropology, Political Science, and Religious Studies). In addition to further study, a diverse range of careers are open to Classics majors; see:


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    Undergraduate Programs

    A Classics degree enables students to gain a well-rounded view of contemporary society through a thorough examination of the ancient world, and in the process to acquire a valuable skill set to offer employers in different fields.

    For the most part, all of our undergraduate programs require students to take courses in history, archaeology, and philology in order to provide a solid foundation for those who wish to pursue higher degrees.

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    Graduate Programs

    The Department of Classics offers one M.A. program and one Ph.D. program.

    The deadline for completed applications to the graduate program is January 15th.

    In addition to the application required by the School of Graduate Studies, applicants are asked to send a writing sample of 5-10 pages along with their application (please do not send these as attachments).

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