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Classics and Ancient Civilizations MA-Seminar


Admission requirements

The Seminar is obligatory for all students enrolled in the MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations.


The Classics and Ancient Civilizations MA-Seminar fulfils three general purposes: 1) to support the thesis writing process through presentation, feedback and intensification sessions (skills, formalia, plagiarism), 2) to promote experimental, socially and didactically stimulating research in small, transdisciplinary groups, and 3) to develop individual and social skills necessary to successfully meet the challenges of the academic job market. To achieve these purposes, the seminar specifically contains the following elements:

  • Cohort formation and interdisciplinary cooperation: peer review and mutual support in class and by working together in small research groups

  • Training presentation and communication skills: applying interdisciplinary research about a self-chosen topic to a non-academic public, didactic reflection, producing a concrete output

  • Thesis training: reflecting and improving academic and technical writing skills "on the job" (thesis, Guide to Academic Skills)

  • Career training: discovering and developing personal skills, reflecting about personal perspectives and individual goals for later carreer, training oral and written application procedures (carried out in cooperation with the Academic Career Center and alumni)

  • Research component: carrying out interdisciplinary research individually and in group with the help of Leiden resources (library, National Museum of Antiquities, track expertise)

Course objectives

In concreto, the course aims at:

  • Enhancing the students’ academic writing and presentation skills;

  • Preparing students for the job market;

  • Intensifying cooperation among students from the tracks Assyriology, Classics, Egyptology and Hebrew and Aramaic Studies, and stimulate interdisciplinary research;

  • Fostering appreciation among students of the diversity and cohesion of Mediterranean antiquity as a whole through reflection, research and presentation;

  • Stimulating reflection about the place of one’s chosen track in the context of the program as a whole;

  • Developing the students’ communicative skills to present an interdisciplinary topic from the ancient Mediterranean to a wider public;

  • Introducing students to relevant collections at Leiden and stimulating their academic use.


The timetable is available on the MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar;

  • Assignments;

  • Research (individual and group);

  • Excursion(s) (National Museum of Antiquities);

  • Presentation, feedback and discussion.

Interdisciplinary Group Project and its Presentation:
Under the guidance of the instructor, participants form interdisciplinary groups and choose a topic that they wish to research and present jointly. The aim is not only to jointly carry out original research, but also to reflect about internal group communication and present the results in a form that could be presented to a self chosen, non-academic audience (“tangible”). During work on the group project, participants receive additional stimuli by track-related workshops and a visit to the resources of the Museum of Antiquities guided by museum specialists. The groups will present the result of their work on a special presentation and feedback session at the end of the first semester. The project phase is concluded with a report written by each group (“tangible”, max. 15 p.).

Accompanying the Thesis Writing Process:
a) Starting: Class presentations are prepared in semester 1 by a one-page "hand-in" with discussion covering the research question, a preliminary bibliography and a short summary of potential results.
b) Advancing: This step is continued at the beginning of semester 2 with a 20-minute presentation on the state of the thesis. The presentation is supported by a bibliography on the topic of the MA-Thesis on the basis of the Guide and a paragraph of ca. 150-300 words including 3-5 footnotes following the Guide format, and a 2-page text expanding the research question and an outline of the status quaestionis following section 3.1 of the Guide to Academic Skills.
c) Concluding: The thesis writing process is concluded by a class presentation presenting the topic in a way accessible to non-specialists. Each presenter has a 30-minute time slot: 15 min. for the presentation, 15 min. for feedback and Q&A from the participants and the instructor. The presentation needs to be supplemented by a one-page handout specifying title, research question, abstract and short bibliography.

Students starting in February follow the same basic structure as students who have started in September, but adapted to their specific needs.

Course Load

The total course load will be 140 hours for 5 EC over the entire year, consisting of:

  • Class attendance: 20 x 2hrs = 40 hrs;

  • Preparing project in interdisciplinary group: 25 hrs (both in peer groups and individually);

  • Presenting group project: 5 hrs;

  • Transforming group project into paper (“tangible”): 20 hrs;

  • Individual assignments accompanying thesis writing process (hand-in and intermediate report): 20 hrs;

  • Individual thesis presentation and feedback: 30 hrs.

Assessment method

This course is graded with a pass or fail.
Participants receive mutual feedback by peers in class, by specific feedback from instructor both in class and individiually upon appointment.


Blackboard will be used as means of communication and to distribute study material.

Reading list

To be announced.

Guide to Academic Skills


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable. This seminar is meant for students enrolled in the MA CLassics and Ancient Civilizations.


Prof. Dr. Jürgen K. Zangenberg
Huizinga 1.34