Ancient History MA (Hons)
2017 entry

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.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

UCAS code


Course type

Master of Arts (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers AABB 
GCE A-Levels AAB
IB points 36

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No prior knowledge of Ancient History is required. It is recommended that applicants have a qualification in a modern or ancient foreign language at National 5, GCSE level, or equivalent.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.  

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Arts entry requirements.

Course information

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.

In your second year you will undertake advanced study of the social, economic, administrative and religious history of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Constantine. You will also study the history of human settlement in the Mediterranean throughout classical antiquity. The rise and fall of classical civilisation is examined, with particular emphasis on archaeological evidence and the theories and interpretative models that modern historians have brought to bear on antiquity. These modules bridge the gap to Honours through focused assessment methods, including deeper analysis and practical tutorials using the University’s archaeological collections.

At Honours-level, you will be able to branch out and study a wide range of topics in Ancient History that cover key aspects of the social, economic, political and cultural history of the Greek and Roman world, from archaic Greece to the end of the Roman empire. All of the School’s Honours modules are inspired by the research expertise of the members of staff who teach them, and expose you to the latest debates and developments in the discipline. They cover a wide range of genres and themes, such as slavery, religion, gender, warfare and imperialism.

Find out more about studying Ancient History at St Andrews.


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). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules:

Students typically take the following compulsory second-year modules:

  • The Roman Empire: explores the Roman empire with particular reference both to social, religious and economic changes as well as to political and military history.
  • Mediterranean Communities: examines the human settlement and material culture of the entire Mediterranean world throughout classical antiquity.

However, students can replace one or both of these modules with the following second-year modules from the Classical Studies programme, in order to customise the programme to match their own interests:

  • Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy: surveys the diversity of early Greek thought through the poetry and philosophy of the archaic and early classical periods, and explores themes of conflict, love and the relationship between mortals and gods.
  • Culture and Thought in the Late Roman Republic: studies major authors of the Late Roman Republic, such as Catullus and Cicero, against the broader backdrop of Roman art, architecture, politics, culture and social life.

If you decide to take Ancient History in your third and fourth years, you will choose from a wide 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:

  • Approaches to Ancient History
  • Persia and the Greeks
  • Alexander the Great
  • The Culture of Roman Imperialism
  • Religious Communities in the Late Antique World
  • Roman Slavery
  • Greeks and Others.

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 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. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

Teaching at sub-honours level is delivered primarily through lectures (80 to 100 students) and small group tutorials (8 to 12 students). Tutorials are an opportunity for students to discuss and develop their thinking in a small and friendly atmosphere, guided by an expert tutor.  

In addition to lectures and tutorials, students are expected to undertake substantial independent, but guided, work outside of the classroom.

At Honours level, all teaching is delivered through seminars (10 to 20 students), with a strong emphasis on students’ own contributions in informal class discussion and in group or individual presentations.


Almost all of the modules in Ancient History are assessed by 50% coursework and 50% examination. However, some modules are assessed solely or mainly on coursework, and others include practical assessment. Coursework can include:

  • research essays
  • source analysis
  • learning diaries
  • oral presentations.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The School provides feedback on every assessment, with a view to improving your performance in future.


Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year. These include:

Faculty of Arts scholarships

The Dr Lawrence M Wodehouse Scholarship provides financial assistance for students studying in the Faculty of Arts who are academically gifted but would otherwise struggle with the cost of studying at St Andrews.

Classics bursaries

The School of Classics offers bursaries for travel (including internships) to archaeological sites, summer schools, museums, and other institutions like the British Schools in Athens and Rome.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Ancient History as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following listed subjects. 

It is also possible to combine a degree in Ancient History with two modern languages. Any combination of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian, Russian, Spanish is available.

  • Art History
  • Biblical Studies
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • International Relations
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Mathematics
  • Mediaeval History
  • Persian
  • Philosophy
  • Social Anthropology
  • Spanish

Your future


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.

A degree in Ancient History will provide you with transferable skills that will equip you for a future career in many sectors. These skills include:

  • understanding a range of viewpoints and critical approaches
  • exercising reflection and critical judgment
  • gathering, memorising, organising and deploying information
  • time management
  • project planning
  • independent work
  • group work
  • oral and written expression.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of Ancient History may be interested in joining the following student societies:

The School of Classics is housed in Swallowgate, an attractive building which overlooks the sea and is close to the University Library and St Salvator’s quadrangle. Students will attend tutorials, seminars, and individual meetings with tutors in this building, while lectures are usually held in St Salvator’s.

The Swallowgate building also houses the School of Classics’ Class Library. The Class Library contains books that supplement the extensive holdings in the main Library and closely support the School’s undergraduate programmes.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


School of Classics
University of St Andrews
Butts Wynd
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2600

Classics website