Ancient History (PGDip/MLitt) 2016 entry

This MLitt course provides training for independent research in ancient history and is designed for historians and archaeologists. On completion, you will have a better understanding of a wide range of Classical disciplines and you will also have undertaken detailed research into subjects of your choice. Teaching is in small groups.

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course duration

Nine months full time (PGDip); one year full time (MLitt)

Entry requirements

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a non-Classics background may be considered, but are encouraged to contact the School of Classics before applying.

If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £6,800
Overseas: £16,250

Application deadline

Applications for 2016 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Application requirements

  • CV
  • letter of intent explaining why you wish to study at St Andrews
  • sample of academic written work in English (2,500 to 5,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • English language requirements certificate, if applicable.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

Course highlights

  • The course is flexible and can be tailored to individual academic interests and needs.
  • Students have the opportunity to take courses at the British School at Athens and the British School at Rome which can count towards their degree. (Some funding is provided, but students will need to pay for accommodation and living expenses.)
  • You will have the option to take a year-long intensive language module track in Latin or Greek at beginner or intermediate level.

Teaching format

The MLitt in Ancient History is a full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Classics.

Students take one compulsory module over two semesters. In addition, students take either two thematic options (one each semester) or one thematic option and a year-long language module track in Latin or Greek.

The compulsory module, Themes and Methods in Ancient History, is delivered through seminars and directed reading in classes of 10 to 20 students, and is assesed by written coursework and an oral presentation.

For each optional module, students will attend regular tutorials with an expert in the field who provides overall direction and guidance; tutorials include groups of no more than five students. Assessment is by written coursework.

The language track modules are taught through instruction and exercises in classes of up to 25 students, and are assessed by four class tests and a final examination each semester.

Over the course of the year, with particular focus during the summer months, you will devise a research project culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation. Students will be assigned an individual member of staff who will supervise the dissertation research and writing process.

The School of Classics provides postgraduates with a supportive intellectual environment, including all hours access to the School's own library.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


Students will take one compulsory module, and either two thematic optional modules or one thematic optional modules and a year-long intensive language language track in Latin or Greek, at beginner or intermediate level.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue.

Compulsory module

There is one compulsory module for this course. It is taught via one seminars each, for which there is directed reading. Assessment is by written coursework and an oral presentation.

Optional modules

Students choose either two thematic modules or one thematic module and a year-long language module track. With permission, students may enroll into some modules which are taken from other programmes taught by the School of Classics or by other schools.

The optional modules each have five fortnightly one-hour tutorials. Assessment is by one or two pieces of written work; there is no exam.

Each optional module requires a minimum enrolment before it is delivered. All students with offers of places will be invited to rank their choices.

  • Integrated Study Abroad (Athens): supervised study at the British School at Athens. Students need to be accepted for a place by BSA. Tuition fees are paid by the University of St Andrews, and some financial help is available for travel and accommodation costs.
  • Integrated Study Abroad (Rome): supervised study at the British School at Rome. Students need to be accepted for a place by BSR. Tuition fees are paid by the University of St Andrews, and some financial help is available for travel and accommodation costs.
  • Greek and Roman Warfare: studies the literary, iconographic and archaeological evidence for warfare in the Greek and Roman world.
  • Religion and Society in the Ancient Greek World: examines the role of religious practice and belief in Greek society from the sixth till the fourth century BCE.
  • The Achaemenid Persian Empire: covers the broad history of the Persian empire from Cyrus the Great to Alexander the Great using Persian, Greek, Egyptian and Babylonian sources.
  • Herodotus and Early Greek Historiography: examines the origins of history-writing in the Greek world, with especial focus on the 'father of history', Herodotus.
  • The Archaeology of the City of Rome: studies Rome from its earliest foundation until the Early Mediaeval period using literary, epigraphic and iconographic sources, alongside the results of centuries of antiquarian studies and archaeological excavations.
  • Tyranny and Kingship in the Ancient Mediterranean: examines autocracy in its many forms in Mediterranean history from the seventh to the third century BCE.
  • Religion and Society in the Roman Empire: analyses developments in thought on traditional topics of Roman religion.
  • The World of Late Antiquity: explores the crucial developments during the period between 284 and 700 CE that involved the entire Mediterranean World.
  • Ancient Empires: a comparative history of ancient empires, exploring themes such as modes of control and exploitation, technologies of rule, relations with local elites, resistance and rebellion, and underpinning cultures of imperialism.
  • Slavery in the Ancient Mediterranean: explores the demography, economics and law of slavery, control mechanisms, philosophical debates and the ramifications of the everyday experience of living with slaves throughout ancient culture and literature.
  • Representations of Women in the Ancient World: examines different forms of evidence for the perceptions of women, usually by men, in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.
  • Magic in the Greco-Roman World: examines magic and related phenomena in the Greco-Roman world, paying special attention to the fascination with magic in literature and to magical beliefs and practices in real life.
  • Ted Hughes and the Classics: covers the role of classics in Hughes's oeuvre and Hughes's place in literary reception of the classics in the second half of the 20th century.
  • Philosophy in Rome: explores the writing of philosophical works by Romans, in Rome.
  • The Expansion of the Afterlife: examines intervening trends in ancient thought on the afterlife through readings of Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid.
  • Classical Reception: examines how and for what purposes classical culture is perceived and transmitted.
  • The Culture of Roman Imperialism: covers the ways in which thinking about foreign cultures was a powerful means of self-definition in Greek and Roman culture.

Language modules

Students may choose to take one language track in either Greek or Latin as one of their optional module choices. Language classes meet for three to five one-hour classes each week.

  • Greek Language for Beginners and Greek Literature for Beginners: provides a thorough grounding in the Greek language for beginners and prepares students for the challenge of reading and interpreting Greek literature.
  • Elementary Latin 1 and Elementary Latin 2: provides a systematic introduction to the Latin language and will enable students to read simplified Latin texts and translate sentences from Latin into English and vice versa.
  • With permission from the School, students may alternatively choose a first-level or second-level language track designed for non-beginners in either language, which includes classes in both semesters.


Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by Friday 17 August 2017.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.

Conferences and events

The School of Classics hosts a programme of weekly research seminars which allows students to keep in touch with the latest ideas in the field. In addition, the School hosts a variety of conferences and workshops related to the interests of our academic staff.

The postgraduate community also runs an informal seminar series where students can get together, share their work in progress and practice presenting papers in a friendly environment.


St Andrews graduates who have graduated during the last three years are eligible for a Recent Graduate Discount, which offers a 10% discount on tuition fees.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MLitt

MPhil degree

The two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in Ancient History is identical to the MLitt degree in the first two semesters. MPhil students then proceed to write a 40,000 word dissertation over the next year.

Research degrees

Many of our graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere.

The School sets aside funding each year for PhD scholarships, which cover both fees and stipend and are awarded on the basis of academic merit and research promise.

PhD in Classics


Classics postgraduates go on to pursue careers in a diverse range of professional careers including teaching, law and museum curatorship.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills. 


School of Classics
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Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB)