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Byzantine Archaeology and Art History

Degree Master of Arts
Application required  access-restricted
Course commences winter semester only
Standard course duration 4 semesters
Format options full-time only
Language requirements English, another modern foreign language (on application);
certified proficiency in Latin or Greek (on application);
certified proficiency in Latin and Greek is (at M.A. examination)
Other features postgraduate / consecutive
Language of instruction German

Faculty of Philosophy

Course outline

Definition of the subject

Byzantine Archaeology and Art History is an M.A. course devoted to the scholarly investigation of the physical relics of late antiquity and the Byzantine civilisation (4th to 15th century AD). It is an age in which political and religious upheaval spelt the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.  After its ultimate demise, a new empire centred around Constantinople gradually took shape: the Byzantine Empire. Before its downfall, it was the neighbour and the political and cultural rival of the West.

The Heidelberg course focuses predominantly on late antiquity/the Early Byzantine period and the Middle Byzantine era.

Description of the subject


Geographically, the subject encompasses firstly all the centres and provinces of the Roman Empire (in late antiquity and the Early Byzantine period) and later predominantly the eastern Mediterranean with the capital Constantinople at the hub (Middle and Late Byzantine periods). Features in common with other archaeological and art-historical subjects (notably Classical Archaeology, Egyptology, Prehistory and Protohistory, Near Eastern Archaeology, Art History) are the nature of the material investigated – physical, visually perceptible monuments and finds – and the research methods appropriate to such objects. Here, the distinguishing factor is the civilisation in question. On the cultural plane, there are points of contact with certain sectors of Classical Studies and Ancient History on the one hand and Church History and Medieval History on the other, but the nature of the relics focused on in Byzantine Architecture and Art History is different.

Focal concerns

The course focuses mainly on the following kinds of relic:

  • architecture, urban construction and topography, graves/tombs and their accoutrements
  • visual arts (mosaic, painting, sculpture)
  • objets d’art, handicrafts, utensils
  • inscriptions

Methods and issues

The methods employed in the subject are geared to the relics inverstigated.

  • Essential is a knowledge of the records of finds and findings.
  • Training in comparative observation is supported notably by iconographic methods and formal analysis.
  • Interpretation of finds/findings in their historical context requires a basic knowledge of the methods used by historians and philologists.


Course structure

The M.A. course in Byzantine Architecture and Art History can be selected as a main (major) subject (70 CP) or as a subsidiary (minor) subject (20 CP) in conjunction with a different main subject. Students can only embark on the course in the winter semester. Access to the course is restricted. Admission to the M.A. course is conditional on proficiency in English and another modern foreign language plus certified proficiency in Latin or Greek. Students without the requisite knowledge of one of these languages (Latin or Greek) can remedy this deficiency in the course of their studies. Evidence of adequate proficiency in both languages must however be produced before embarking on the M.A. thesis (at the latest).

The modules constituting the M.A. programme as a main subject (architectural research, settlement archaeology, visual studies, history of theory and research) can be found in Appendix 1 to the examination regulations (see below). Graduates achieving the requisite grades for the M.A. course can go on to study for a doctorate in the subject.

Subsidiary (minor) subject

The course requires 20 CP to be acquired in a subsidiary (minor) subject. Here is a list of all the subsidiary subjects on offer.

The M.A. course in Byzantine Archaeology and Art History can be studied as a subsidiary subject accounting for 20 CP.

Main research interests

Information on the main research interests of the Institute can be found here



Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Prospective students from Germany

Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Department of Byzantine Archaeology and Art History for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadline for international applicants is 15 June. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.

Further information

Current information on procedure

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.A. (25 July 2007)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

Academic advisors

Prof. Dr. Stephan Westphalen
Marstallhof, Südostturm
office hours by appointment
phone: +49 (0)6221 542229

Katinka Sewing, M.A.
Marstallhof 4, Südostturm (1st floor)
office hours Wednesdays, 2.00-4.00 pm
phone: +49 (0)6221-54-2228


Institute of Byzantine Archaeology and Art History
Marstallhof 4
D-69117 Heidelberg



Secretaries’  office

Carolin Gillmeister
phone.: +49 (0)6221-54-2512
fax: +49 (0)6221-54-3385

Editor: Email
Latest Revision: 2017-12-13
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