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FACULTY OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

Philosophy Centre, Radcliffe Humanities, ROQ


Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG, UK

Tel: (+ 44 1865 2) 76926 http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk

MST IN ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY

STUDENT HANDBOOK

2019-2020
6 THE MASTER OF STUDIES IN ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY

6.1 COURSE OVERVIEW

6.1.1 THE MASTER OF STUDIES (MST) IN ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY


The Master of Studies (MSt) in Ancient Philosophy is a one-year full-time taught Masters course. It is a degree at FHEQ
Level 7 (see https://academic.admin.ox.ac.uk/university-awards-framework). There is no relevant subject benchmark
statement (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code/subject-benchmark-statements) or professional accreditation for this course.
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 (https://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/history-of-philosophy/) and through this course the Faculty aims to attract
and select the best possible national and international scholars in the subject.
The course allows candidates to specialise in ancient thought. It aims to offer a graduate education in Ancient Philosophy of
the highest possible quality, and to provide a foundation on which candidates can go on to pursue doctoral work in the area.
Students who pass the MSt in Ancient Philosophy will have the opportunity to apply to continue to the Faculty’s DPhil
(doctoral) programme, via a year as a Probationary Research Student (see Section 6.4.1 for further details). While not all
successful students go on to pursue doctoral work, the knowledge and skills acquired can often play a valuable role outside
academic life.
Students are required to offer two subject options and a thesis of 10,000-15,000 words. Assessment of the subject options
is by extended essays (one essay of no more than 5,000 words for the first subject option and two essays of no more than
5,000 words each for the second). See Section 6.2.1 for further details about the content of the course, and Appendix 9 for
further information about the assessment process.

6.1.2 LENGTH OF COURSE: RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS


In order to complete the MSt in Ancient Philosophy, a graduate student is formally required to keep three terms’ (i.e. one
year’s) residence in Oxford. In exceptional circumstances there is some scope for postponement or deferral of a student’s
studies; see Appendix 9 for more details. Some dispensation from residence can be granted if your research demands it or
if there are other compelling reasons approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.
See Section 2.10 for term dates for 2019-20 and clarification of what ‘Residence in Oxford’ means.

6.1.3 EDUCATIONAL AIMS


The aim of the programme is to provide a graduate education in Ancient Philosophy of the highest possible quality, one which
will enable students to:
 undertake original in-depth study in at least two areas of Ancient Philosophy, and to write a thesis under the guidance
of an expert supervisor;
 provide an opportunity to attain at least a beginners’ level of Ancient Greek;
 produce written work that displays sustained and systematic argument, independent thought and lucid structure and
presentation;
The programme will also:
 provide a foundation on which to go on to pursue doctoral work in Philosophy.

6.1.4 LEARNING OUTCOMES


On completing their one-year course, MSt in Ancient Philosophy students should have:
 pursued a course requiring a high standard in each of the three examined elements (a thesis and two subject
options);
 selected at least two areas of ancient philosophy and studied them through individual tutorials with an expert
supervisor and either by lectures (offered by (an) expert(s) in the relevant field) or by classes (convened by (an)
expert(s) in the relevant field) at which students give presentations;
 written a thesis under the guidance of an expert supervisor;
 been examined on their chosen areas by a requirement to write three essays (of up to 5,000 words each);
 had an opportunity to attain knowledge of Ancient Greek;2

2 MSt in Ancient Philosophy students without any (or with little) Ancient Greek should consider attending the language classes run by the Faculty of Classics,
and will be required to do so if they want to progress to the DPhil in Philosophy (as demonstrable prior knowledge of Ancient Greek will be an academic
condition for an offer of a place on the DPhil in Philosophy). Students with intermediate or advanced Greek may attend more advanced Ancient Greek classes.

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 had many opportunities to hear and give talks in philosophy, by attending an annual Graduate Philosophy
Conference, talks by invited speakers, philosophy societies, and discussion groups;
 been a member of a college graduate community, associating with graduates from many countries, cultures, and
academic disciplines.
All students on the course will become part of Oxford’s thriving academic community in ancient philosophy. Each term many
seminars, lectures, and classes in philosophy take place. The Ancient Philosophy Workshop
(https://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/workshop-ancient-philosophy) convenes on Thursdays, 4-6pm, and is an invaluable
opportunity for MSt students to expand their philosophical knowledge and interests and meet members of the Faculty and
visiting speakers. There are also occasional workshops and conferences organised by members and graduate students in
the Faculty, and informal networks of study. The Nellie Wallace Lectures (which are shared between the Faculties of Classics
and Philosophy) enable scholars from outside the University to visit Oxford in order to lecture and conduct seminars in a
subject in the field of Literae Humaniores.

6.2 TEACHING AND LEARNING


The main forums for teaching and learning for students on the MSt in Ancient Philosophy are individual supervisions with
members of the Faculty during Full Term, MSt Ancient Philosophy classes, lectures, and ongoing independent research.

6.2.1 SYLLABUS AND SUBJECT OPTIONS


As a student on the MSt in Ancient Philosophy, you must choose two subject options and offer a thesis of 10,000-15,000
words.

Subject Option A
The first subject option must be chosen from the list of undergraduate papers in ancient philosophy:
130 Plato: Republic
131 Plato on Knowledge, Language, & Reality in the Theaetetus & Sophist
132 Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics
133 Aristotle on Nature, Life and Mind
134 Knowledge and Scepticism in Hellenistic Philosophy
135 Latin Philosophy
Tuition for these subjects is offered in the form of one-to-one tutorials, in Michaelmas Term, and lectures and/or classes,
usually in Michaelmas and/or Hilary Terms.
Bibliographies are provided in the first instance by the undergraduate reading lists for philosophy papers 130-135, though
students are expected to discuss and refine readings with their supervisor who will supplement the lists and offer guidance
as appropriate. While the syllabus for this subject option is borrowed from one of the undergraduate courses, the teaching is
at Masters level: students are examined by extended essays and assessed according to the Masters-level marking
conventions (see Appendix 9).

This subject is examined by one essay of up to 5,000 words on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the Course
Coordinator (no later than the Friday of Week 7 of Michaelmas Term).

Subject Option B
The second subject option consists of one class in Michaelmas Term 2019, and one class in Hilary Term 2020, as follows:

Michaelmas Term 2019


Techne in ancient philosophy (offered by Prof Ursula Coope)
Attendance at this class is compulsory.

Hilary Term 2020


Vice in ancient philosophy (offered by Dr Karen Margarethe Nielsen)
Attendance at this class is compulsory.

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Trinity Term 2020
Dr Simon Shogry will offer a class on ‘Virtue and Eros in Stoic Philosophy’ and Prof Terence Irwin will offer a Greek Reading
class in which selections from Greek philosophy will be read in the original language and discussed.
It is recommended that MSt in Ancient Philosophy students attend these classes due to the relevance to their course, but
because this term they are concentrating their efforts on doing research for and writing up their thesis, attendance is not
compulsory.

Deadline for submission of essays


The deadline for submission of the Subject Option A essay is 10am on Friday 13 December 2019 (Friday of Week 9 of
Michaelmas Term). The deadline for submission of the Subject Option B – Part A and Subject Option B – Part B essays is
10am on Friday 20 March 2020 (Friday of Week 9 of Hilary Term). Essays must be delivered to the Examination Schools
in a sealed envelope addressed to the ‘Chair of Examiners of the MSt in Ancient Philosophy, c/o Clerk of Schools, High
Street, Oxford, OX1 5BG’.
Students are advised to think about working on an early draft for one of their two Subject Option B essays during the
Christmas vacation. This is to avoid unnecessary time pressure when completing two essays during term-time in Hilary Term.

Permitted help with essays


You are reminded that you should abide by the University plagiarism policy as stated at
http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/plagiarism.
Only two hours of supervision may be spent on any supervision essay to be submitted as an assessed essay. However,
feedback will not be given on two full drafts of the same essay. It will be left to the supervisor to decide how much of a revised
essay they are willing to give feedback on, but this is likely not to be more than two thirds of the essay and in any case not
more than three quarters.
In addition, you are not permitted to receive written or oral feedback from members of the Oxford Philosophy Faculty on a
written draft of an essay to be submitted for assessment, or have one-to-one discussions with members of the Oxford
Philosophy Faculty on the detailed structure of an essay to be submitted for assessment, except with your assigned
supervisor in a maximum of approximately two hours of supervision only, during the following periods in your studies:
- Subject A: from the end of Week 7 of Michaelmas Term until the publication of results in Week 12 of Trinity Term.
- Subject B: from the end of Week 5 of Hilary Term until the publication of results in Week 12 of Trinity Term.

Outside these periods, you may discuss your written work with any Oxford Philosophy Faculty members. However, it should
be noted that you have no entitlement to such feedback; any such permitted feedback is entirely supererogatory on the part
of individual Oxford Philosophy Faculty members. Note also, that it is not usually considered appropriate for Masters students,
without prior invitation, to approach Faculty members other than their supervisor for comments on drafts of essays they
propose to submit for examination.
You are at all times permitted to circulate drafts of, and discuss the content of, essays to be submitted for assessment with
anyone except Oxford Philosophy Faculty members.

General Advice
If you need help choosing a subject area for study, the Course Coordinator will be ready to give advice and suggest
exploratory reading.
You should also note that in the examination, though it is acceptable to submit a thesis and essays in the same general area,
precise or substantial repetition of material between one essay and another, or between essays and thesis, will be penalised
by the examiners, as this will be classified as auto-plagiarism (see Appendix 9 for details about penalties you can incur due
to unpermitted overlap in material between essays or between an essay and the thesis). If you are in any doubt about
auto-plagiarism during the examinations, you should consult the Chair of the MSt Examiners via the Graduate Studies
Assistant, and/or the academic good practice website at http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills.
When you join the course you will be asked to choose your option for Subject A. There will be an opportunity to discuss this
choice with the Course Coordinator.

6.2.2 LECTURES AND CLASSES


See Section 3.1 for general information on graduate classes.
MSt-specific classes will be provided for those subjects listed under Subject Option B in Section 6.2.1. You are required to
attend and participate in all the compulsory classes. These classes are primarily aimed at MSt in Ancient Philosophy students,
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though other graduate students are welcome to attend, and they are organised by a specialist or specialists in the field. They
normally meet once a week for one term or are sometimes spread across two terms, and involve presentations given by
class participants, based on topics and reading lists given out at the beginning of term. Classes provide you with the
opportunity to gain additional feedback and perspectives from both your peer group and from experts in the field. It is
important that you participate actively in the classes you attend and make sure that any points you do not understand are
clarified. It is by asking questions and raising difficulties that clarity can be achieved.
In addition, as a graduate student, you may attend any of the other graduate classes held each term; and many of the lectures
and classes that are intended primarily for undergraduates are interesting and useful for graduate students too. Attendance
of the Workshop in Ancient Philosophy is highly recommended (the programme is available at
https://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/workshop-ancient-philosophy).

6.2.3 SUPERVISORS AND SUPERVISIONS


At the start of each term, you will agree a programme of work with your supervisor. You will not necessarily work with the
same supervisor on both your subject options and your thesis; in fact, it is quite likely that you will be allocated a different
supervisor for each of the three elements.
Teaching methods will, of course, vary between individual supervisors and students. But, in general, supervisions take the
form of analysis and discussion of a piece of work which the student has written over the preceding few weeks. This piece
of work will usually be about 5,000 words long and will be philosophical in nature rather than purely expository. You will
receive a total of approximately four hours of supervision per term, including supervision on the essay(s) which you may
submit. It is to be decided between yourself and your supervisor how frequently you meet and how long each supervision
will be, but the total amount of supervision should not exceed the normal amount of (approximately four) hours of supervision
per term. The MSt in Ancient Philosophy Course Coordinator is responsible for guiding your progress through the course.
He will assist you in planning your work and choosing options, and arranges supervision for those options and for the thesis.
Having been assigned a supervisor for any part of your course, it is your responsibility to maintain contact with him or her.
The Course Coordinator also monitors the progress of students and ensures that a report on each is returned at the end of
every term. You can expect regular contact with the Course Coordinator to discuss your progress and any problems you may
have. However, it is your responsibility to maintain contact with the Course Coordinator throughout your course and to inform
the Course Coordinator and/or the DGS without delay should any difficulties or problems arise.
For information about changing supervisors, see Section 6.2.4 below. For further information about the responsibilities of
students and supervisors, please refer to the Examination Regulations 2019.

6.2.4 CHANGING SUPERVISORS


A one-to-one supervisory relationship can sometimes not work out, for many reasons most of which are not the fault of either
party. You should never feel hesitant about asking for a change of supervisor, and such requests will be considered
sympathetically (though you should understand that given how specialised graduate work can be, it is not always logistically
possible to arrange a new supervisor in quite the right area). You should approach the Course Coordinator as soon as
possible about any such requests.

6.2.5 THE THESIS


In addition to writing essays, you will also be required to submit a 10,000-15,000-word thesis on a topic of your choice. You
will receive a total of approximately four hours of supervision. It is to be decided between yourself and your supervisor how
frequently you meet and how long each supervision will be, but the total amount of supervision should not exceed the normal
amount of four hours of supervision. The title of the thesis must be approved by the GSC and must be submitted for approval
together with a 100-word outline by Friday of Week 5 of Hilary Term.
You may, if necessary, apply to change your title at a later time, but no later than 10am on Friday Week 5 of Trinity Term.
To request a thesis title change, an email must be sent to the Graduate Studies Assistant indicating the originally approved
thesis title, the proposed new thesis title, the old thesis abstract, the revised thesis abstract (this does not need to be the
final abstract that will become part of your thesis, but does need to reflect the new contents), a brief outline of your reasons
for requesting the thesis title change, and confirmation that the title change does not also reflect a change in thesis topic (as
otherwise different assessors may need to be appointed). You must also mention your examination (candidate) number with
the request and the request should be accompanied by an email from your supervisor confirming their agreement with the
thesis title change.
The following general advice should be borne in mind:
 the thesis should have a strong central idea, argument or direction;
 it is sensible to focus on topics that fall within a subject area that is clearly philosophical (as opposed to, say, literary,
historiographical, etc.), even if one approaches them through the history of philosophy;
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 it also makes sense to focus on a topic that is not too wide-ranging to preclude in-depth treatment within the word limit
of 10,000-15,000 words, but one that is open to being extended or expanded if you intend to go on to the DPhil;
 the thesis may not exceed 15,000 words (see Appendix 9).
You may well find it hard to select a topic and begin work on your thesis. The viability of any topic is not always predictable
at the outset, and even when it is clearly viable, you may be unsure at the start how to develop it. It is therefore often a good
idea to pick out some central topic, argument, issue or debate you find of particular interest, and to begin by working on that,
even if it is unlikely to be placed in Chapter 1 of the eventual thesis. This will ensure that you get started without wasting time
on peripheral preparations. It is nearly always a mistake to spend a great deal of time trying to plan the whole thesis before
starting to write it.
It is important to remember that it is easy at the start to underestimate how much you have to say. If you make this natural
mistake, your anxiety to cover enough paper may push you into an excessively wide-ranging enquiry. This is something that
must be resisted. Try not to worry about scope and coverage until your work is well under way. You will then have a better
idea of the scale on which you are working. In any case, few projects are intrinsically limited. The Course Coordinator can
be very useful when you are beginning to explore your field. Ask him early on for an opinion of the viability of your plan, the
geology of the surrounding terrain, and where you are most likely to strike oil. Your supervisor may also be able to provide
advice on whether the proposed topic has enough depth or scope to merit a 10,000-15,000-word discussion (not to speak of
a DPhil thesis), and should help you to judge whether you have anything new to say.
Deadline for submission of the thesis is 10am on Wednesday 17 June 2020 (Wednesday Week 8 of Trinity Term).
You may use third party proof-readers for your thesis as University policy now formally allows proof-reading for work of
10,000 words or over. However, there are very strict guidelines as to what the proof-reader may and may not do
(see Appendix 13 below) and breach of these guidelines could constitute a breach of academic integrity and contravene the
Proctors' Disciplinary Regulations for Candidates in Examination (http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/regulations/288-
072.shtml). It is therefore your responsibility to provide the proof-reader with a copy of this policy statement.

6.2.6 EXPECTATION OF STUDY


Exactly how you structure your time will largely be a matter of individual preference, organised in consultation with the Course
Coordinator and affected, for example, by the timetabling of key classes and seminars or the availability of supervisors.
The MSt in Ancient Philosophy course runs for three terms. The examination of your subject options begins at the end of
your first term. By Friday Week 7 of this term you must have submitted the essay topic for your Subject Option A to the
Course Coordinator for approval and by Friday Week 9 of Michaelmas Term, the first essay, for Subject Option A, is due to
be submitted. By Friday of Week 5 of Hilary Term you must have submitted for approval both your proposed thesis title and
outline (to the GSC) and the two essay topics for Subject Option B (to the Course Coordinator). It should be noted you are
stronlgy encouraged to choose essay and thesis topics on more than one author with a view to broadening your areas of
academic expertise and competence. You must submit the two essays for Subject Option B by Friday of Week 9 of Hilary
Term. You are not required to submit your thesis until the Wednesday of Week 8 of your third term (Trinity Term).
Given this timetable, it is essential that, while you put in sufficient time on each of your three essays to be prepared for
examination, you also do some preparatory work on your thesis during your first and second terms. Moreover, it is advisable
that during the Christmas break you already think about, work on, and ideally complete an early draft for one of the two
Subject Option B essays due for submission at the end of Hilary Term, to avoid unnecessary time pressure to complete two
essays during term-time in Hilary Term..

6.3 ASSESSMENT

6.3.1 ASSESSMENT STRUCTURE


Full details of the regulations for the MSt in Ancient Philosophy and dates are printed in the University’s Examination
Regulations but a summary of the key dates is as follows:

Friday of Week 4 of Michaelmas Term: Candidates formally enter for the examination through Student Self
Service (see Appendix 9 below).

Friday of Week 7 of Michaelmas Term: Deadline by which candidates must have obtained approval from the
Course Coordinator for the topic of their essay for Subject Option A.

Christmas Vacation: Students are advised to already think about, work on, and ideally
complete an early draft for one of their two Subject Option B essays
due for submission at the end of Hilary Term, to avoid unnecessary
time pressure to complete two essays during term-time in Hilary Term.

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Friday of Week 9 of MIchaelmas Term, 10am: Deadline by which the essay for Subject Option A must be submitted
to the Examination Schools.

Friday of Week 5 of Hilary Term, 10 am: Deadline by which candidates must (a) obtain approval from the
Course Coordinator for the topics of their two essays for
Subject Option B; and (b) have submitted to the Graduate Studies
Committee a thesis title and outline for approval.

Friday of Week 9 of Hilary Term, 10am: Deadline by which the two essays for Subject Option B must be
submitted to the Examination Schools.

Friday of Week 5 of Trinity Term, 10 am: Deadline by which candidates must notify the Graduate Studies
Assistant of any thesis title changes, including a revised thesis outline
if the topic has changed too.

Wednesday of Week 8 of Trinity Term, 10am: Deadline by which the thesis must be submitted to the Examination
Schools.

6.3.2 ENTERING FOR THE EXAMINATIONS


You enter for the MSt in Ancient Philosophy examination via Student Self Service. Please see
http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/exams/entry for instructions on how to register. The same arrangements are valid for
registering for resits (see Appendix 9 for further information on resit arrangements). The University’s student system will send
several automated reminders of the examination registration deadlines, but you should remember that it is your responsibility
to ensure that you have entered for examination and that your subjects have been correctly recorded on your on-line record,
especially for resit registrations as no automated reminders can be sent for those.

6.3.3 EXAMINATION CONVENTIONS


Examination Conventions are the formal record of the specific assessment standards for the course or courses to which they
apply. They set out how your examined work will be marked and how the resulting marks will be used to arrive at a final
result and classification of your award. Consult the Examination Conventions in Appendix 9 for detailed information on:
 submission regulations and dates
 word limits for submissions
 format for submitted work: preparation and presentation of essays
 electronic copies of assessed essays
 permitted help with essays
 overlap in materials
 avoidance of plagiarism
 marking scales and conventions
 marking and classification criteria
 scaling of marks
 use of viva voce examinations
 submitting late and penalties for late submission
 penalties for over-length of work
 mitigating circumstances applications
 publication of results and feedback

6.3.4 REDRESS IN EXAMINATIONS


If you feel that there is a serious and substantial problem regarding your examination, you should consult the Course
Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies in the first instance for information and advice. It is always advisable to
address any potential problem as soon as it becomes apparent.
It is also possible for an examination candidate, or the supervisor on the candidate’s behalf, to make a complaint to the
Proctors relating to the decision of an examining body. Please note that the procedure applies to complaints about
irregularities in the conduct of the examination; it is not a means of challenging an unfavourable result, or of questioning the
academic judgement of the examiners. Further information can be found in the University Student Handbook, formerly known
as the Proctors’ and Assessor’s Memorandum (http://www.proctors.ox.ac.uk/handbook/handbook/) and Appendix 3 below.

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