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Byzantine Greek
Summer School







As the heading indicates the Byzantine Greek Summer School which operated in Queen's University Belfast from 2002 to 2011 has now relocated to the University of Birmingham. We are very grateful to the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at Birmingham for making the continuation of the Summer School possible when Queen's University declined to host it after 2011.


The Level-1 course (29 July - 12 August) is for absolute beginners in Byzantine Greek. It starts with the Greek alphabet and takes students through the basic grammar of Greek to the point where they can begin to translate simple Greek texts with the aid of a dictionary. The Level-2 course (12 - 26 August) carries straight on from the Level-1 course, completing the coverage of basic Greek grammar and introducing students to a variety of Greek texts. Each year a number of people take both courses. (For further details of the courses see the separate Course Descriptions document.) The courses are intensive, with 30 hours of language tuition per week (9.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00, Monday-Friday). There are short tea/coffee breaks in the middle of each session. In addition, there will also be occasional evening seminars and, hopefully, excursions on the middle Saturday of each course, to places of cultural, historical or natural interest. There will be Welcome Receptions at the beginning of each course, and end-of-course parties on Friday August 10 Birthdays and Friday August 24 Birthdays.

Level-3 (12 - 26 August, at the same time as Level-2) is an Advanced Reading course for those who successfully completed Level-2 in a previous year and have made further progress since, or those have acquired the necessary familiarity with Greek by other means. If, after you have read the course descriptions (see the separate document), you are not sure whether Level-2 or Level-3 is appropriate for you, do not worry. Whichever you apply for you will be able to take the diagnostic test on the first day to determine which will be more appropriate. east europe map

If participants from the 2011 Level-2 course come to repeat Level-2 this year, we will ensure that the texts studied are different from those studied in 2011 (or at least different sections of the same texts). Anyone repeating the Level-1 course, however, is likely to encounter much of the same material as before.

If you are a near-beginner, but not a complete beginner, it is possible to start in the second week of Level-1. Please consult Anthony Hirst before amending your application form to reflect such a choice.

Click here for the full course descriptions in Word (.doc) format. You will get a dialogue box asking whether you want to open or save the document.

Teaching Staff

Anthony Hirst has taught at the Byzantine Greek Summer School since 2005 and been the Director of the Summer School since 2006. He studied New Testament Greek, Modern Greek, Classical Greek and Byzantine Greek (in that order) over a period of over 40 years, and taught all but New Testament Greek during his ten years as a lecturer at Queen's University Belfast, from where he retired in 2009. He has published translations of Modern Greek poetry and prose and is now co-ordinating a project to translate the whole of the Histories of John VI Kantakouzenos into English.

Paddy Sammon graduated in Classics from Trinity College Dublin and had a diplomatic career which included several years at the Irish Embassy in Athens. He speaks Modern Greek fluently. He taught at the Byzantine Greek Summer School in Belfast in 2010 and 2011.

Philip Burton has a Doctorate in Classics from Cambridge University, and is now a Reader in Latin and Early Christian Studies in the University of Birmingham. He has taught Classics and Theology in various universities, and taught for many years at the Lampeter Summer Workshop in Greek and Latin. He has published on various aspects of early Christianity and on the heritage of the Graeco-Roman world.

Michael Strain studied Classics at Liverpool, and taught Latin, Greek and Classical Studies in secondary schools in Yorkshire.  After some years lecturing in Education in Belfast, he has enrolled for the MA in Byzantine Studies at Birmingham and rediscovered the pleasure of reading Greek.

Cost of the Summer School

The Summer School is run on a non-profit basis and sets the fees to cover the costs, including payments to the teaching staff. In 2012 the basic fee for participation in the Summer School will be 442 GBP for each two-week course; the fee for attending both Level-1 and Level-2 is 884 GBP. The fees for each course include 14 nights self-catering accommodation in a student hall of residence. (For information about the accommodation itself, see the "Details of accommodation" section below.) For those living in or near Birmingham, and others who prefer to make their own arrangements for accommodation in Birmingham, the fees without accommodation will be 192 GBP for each two week course.

Those staying for less than 14 or 28 nights will receive a reduction of 17.85 GBP per for each night less than 14 or 28 nights.

Those staying for more than 14 or 28 nights will have to pay an additional charge of 17.85 GBP per night for each extra night.

Fees also include all course materials, and tea, coffee and biscuits etc. in the morning and afternoon breaks, and refreshments at receptions and parties. The only additional charges (all optional) are for those excursions which require the hire of transport, and for extra nights' accommodation.

Payment is not required in advance. You will receive an invoice during your first week at the Summer School. Payment may then be made by cheque, in cash, online with certain credit and debit cards, or by bank transfer.

Sources of Funding

The Byzantine Greek Summer School normally receives grants from the Classical Association and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies to provide bursaries for a small number of participants. The Classical Association prefers to fund students from Eastern Europe, Asia or Africa, while the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies prefers to fund students from UK Universities. Funds from these sources for the 2012 Summer School are not yet confirmed.

Application for either of the above sources of funding is via the Summer School Application Form (Questions 14-16), and the Summer School organizers are responsible for the allocation of bursaries.

Summer School participants from Turkey or other countries bordering the Black Sea (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia) and who have postgraduate status can apply to the London office of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara for scholarships (maximum value 500 GBP) from The Turkish and Black Sea Scholars Fund. (Go to http://www.biaa.ac.uk and choose "Grants and Awards" from the menu on the left of the home page, and then "BIAA Scholarships" from the pull-down menu that appears). Those eligible should consult Anthony Hirst before applying, and should bear in mind that they must be able to show that their stay at the University of Birmingham will be longer than their participation in the Summer School and that they will use the facilities of Birmingham University to further their own research, since the BIAA will not give scholarships solely for attendance at a language course. Four Summer School participants have been successful in obtaining BIAA scholarships in the past, one in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Many students at UK Universities have in the past been successful in obtaining funding from their own universities to cover all or part of the fees of the Summer School, and in some cases their travel expenses too. Similar possibilities may exist in universities in the United States, Canada and some other countries. University students must provide evidence that they have explored sources of funding from within their own universities before applying to the Byzantine Greek Summer School for one of the bursaries provided by the Classical Association, or the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. We will be happy to write letters in support of your application for university or other funding.

As in 2011, in allocating bursary funding priority will be given to applicants for Level-1 and then Level-2. Please also bear in mind that the greater the bursary sum you apply for the less your chances of receiving it. (We regret that we have to apply this criterion, but the financial viability of the Summer School depends on using our bursary funds to maximize the number of participants.) The application form asks you to state the minimum sum that would make it possible for you to attend the Summer School.


Accommodation will be in Vale Village, about 20 minutes walk from the main campus where the teaching will take place. You will be in a flat consisting of 4, 5 or 6 rooms. There is a wash basin in each room. Each flat has two toilets and two shower rooms and a fully-equipped shared kitchen. Bed linen is provided and changed weekly, but you will need to bring your own towels. Please note that ensuite accommodation and two-person rooms are not available. To get an impression of the accommodation go to: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/students/accommodation/halls/index.aspx
where you fill find a ten-minute video at the top of the page. Further down the page select "The Vale Village" for information specific to the area where you will be staying. On the next page the "Virtual tour of a Maple Bank bedroom" and the "Virtual tour of a Maple Bank kitchen" will give you a good idea of the kind of accommodation you will have. The Vale is a splendid environment with lots of green space: mature trees and lawns sweeping down to a lake.

Application to the Summer School

Click here for the application form in Word (.doc) format. You will get a dialogue box asking whether you want to open or save the document.

It can be returned as an email attachment or printed, filled in by hand and posted to Dr. Anthony Hirst at the London address below (Do NOT write to the University of Birmingham). Please reply as early as possible. If you are applying for funding via the application form (that is, funding other than from the BIAA) your application form must be returned by Monday 16 April 2012 to guarantee consideration. Decisions on the award of bursaries will be made by 30 April. The deadline for all applications is Friday 18 May 2012. Late applications may be considered, but the chances of acceptance, especially where funding is also applied for, will be considerably reduced. Early applications are encouraged as each course will be limited to fifteen participants.

The deadline for applications to the BIAA (see "Sources of funding" above) is 1 April 2012, and the BIAA does not consider late applications.


Dr Anthony Hirst
68 Palatine Road

London N16 8ST


Tel. (from outside the UK): 0044 20 7241 2895

Tel. (from inside the UK): 020 7241 2895

email: [email protected]

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