University of St Andrews

Ancient History MA (Hons)

University of St Andrews
In St Andrews

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Important information

Typology Master
Location St andrews (Scotland)
Duration 4 Years
  • Master
  • St andrews (Scotland)
  • Duration:
    4 Years

The MA (Hons) in Ancient History explores the history of Greece and Rome, and neighbouring peoples such as the Persians and Carthaginians. Students study the period from the beginning of Greek writing and urbanism in eighth century BCE through to the collapse of the western Roman empire in the fifth century CE. Geographically the subject is centred on the Mediterranean world, but at times extends from the Persian Gulf to the Clyde and from the Crimea to the Sahara.

Thematically, the course deals not only with political and military history, but also with topics such as gender and sexuality, slavery, colonization, religion, cultural contacts between peoples, and the ecology and economy of the ancient Mediterranean. Students will also study the nature of ancient evidence and the way that the Greeks and Romans represented the past and reinvented it to meet their changing needs.

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Where and when



St Andrews (Fife)
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University Of St Andrews, KY16 9AJ


On request

To take into account

· What are the objectives of this course?

The MA (Hons) in Ancient History is a four-year course run by the School of Classics. In the first year, no previous experience of ancient history or classical languages is required; any student is eligible to take Ancient History. The history of the ancient Greek world is traced from the eighth century BCE to Alexander the Great, and the history of Rome is studied from its beginnings to the Emperor Augustus. Modules introduce political, social and archaeological aspects of civilisations that contributed much to later European culture.

· Who is it intended for?

Ancient History students at St Andrews have traditionally progressed into a very wide range of careers on graduating. Some continue their academic careers via a postgraduate training degree to doctoral study either in St Andrews or at another university. Other students have progressed to postgraduate qualifications in teaching, museum studies or archaeology. Recent Ancient History graduates have moved into careers including: NHS civil service financial industry human resources conference management heritage management.

· Requirements

SQA Highers AABB GCE A-Levels AAA IB points 36, including three subjects at HL6

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Course rating
Centre rating

Reviews on this course

Mehera O'Brien
5.0 01/10/2018
What I would highlight: I had a wonderful experience as i was living with my host family in the states. They were so friendly and I can't ask for more! Thanks.
What could be improved: Great course.
Would you recommend this course?: Yes
Did this opinion help you? Yes (0)
5.0 25/02/2018
What I would highlight: The flexible degree system allows you to explore different career paths before you finally decide to specialize in any one.
What could be improved: -
Would you recommend this course?: Yes
Did this opinion help you? Yes (0)
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What you'll learn on the course

Social Sciences
Earth Sciences
Creative Writing

Course programme

In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in Ancient History alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take one Ancient History module per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours).

1st Year

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules:

  • The Greeks in a Wider World: surveys Greek history from the origins of the Greek city-states in the Archaic period (ca. 800 BCE), through the heyday of Athens’ empire and democracy in the fifth century, to Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire. Alongside political and military history, the module tackles topics such as religious belief, sexuality, and Greek interactions with other peoples of the ancient Mediterranean world.
  • Rome and the Mediterranean: traces Rome’s trajectory from a small settlement in central Italy to the centre of a Mediterranean empire. The module examines a wide range of topics, including politics, the family, religion, slavery, poverty and the economy. It exposes the links between the growth of Rome’s power abroad and the transformation and eventual collapse of its Republican government at home.
2nd Year

Second year compulsory modules in Ancient History are:

  • Mediterranean Communities: examines the human settlement and material culture of the entire Mediterranean world throughout classical antiquity, tracing the transformation of the Mediterranean from a world of tiny peasant and tribal communities to a world of complexly connected cities, states and empires.
  • The Roman Empire: explores the complex history of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Late Antiquity, an empire which, for the first and last time, united the whole Mediterranean and its diverse hinterlands.

Students can replace one or both of these modules with second-year Classical Studies modules in order to adapt the programme to suit their interests. Second year modules in Classical Studies are:

  • Culture and Thought in the Late Roman Republic: studies the art and literature of Rome in the Late Republic (first century BCE). Key literary texts, such as the passionate poetry of Catullus and the stylish rhetoric of Cicero, are set against the broader backdrop of Roman political, cultural and social life in this turbulent period of civil war and dictatorship.
  • Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy: surveys the very origins of Western civilisation in the archaic and early classical Greek world. The module studies the diversity of early Greek thought through the poetry and philosophy of the period, and explores themes of conflict, love and the relationship between mortals and gods.

Ancient History students must take the core module Approaches to Ancient History in their third year. In addition, you will choose from a variety of advanced options, including modules from a wide range of periods that showcase different historical approaches. You will also have access to modules from the Ancient History & Archaeology and Classical Studies programmes, which will give you an even wider choice of social, cultural and historical topics to explore.

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • The Culture of Roman Imperialism
  • Eight Scenes from the Life of Alexander the Great
  • Greeks and Others
  • Persia and the Greeks
  • Religious Communities in the Late Antique World
  • Roman Slavery.

In fourth year, students also undertake a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The sub-honours modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above.

Additional information

Overseas Fee £22,350

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