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Ancient history

What is Ancient History and why study it?

Ancient History, the historical study of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, seen in their Mediterranean and Near Eastern contexts, spans a vast period, from the second millennium B.C. to the 5th Century A.D. Over this long stretch of time the ancient world was richly varied and creative in its political, social, economic and cultural life. Furthermore the classical ancient world stands at the beginning of western civilization, and though remote in time from the present, is also in many respects peculiarly close to it; many of the fundamental issues of human society which still exercise us today were first formulated in ancient times. The available evidence, though restricted in comparison with more recent periods of history, is constantly being enriched by new and significant archaeological discoveries.

Ancient History at St Andrews

The School of Classics is the largest in Scotland to specialize in Ancient History with a total number of students well in excess of a hundred every year. Friendliness of contact is established from the start of the course through small tutorial groups which enable students to get to know the staff and each other very quickly. The fact that all six members of staff share the lecturing in First Year also helps students feel part of the Department as a whole.

A broad range of modules provides coverage not only of the more central periods of Ancient History, but also of less familiar though no less important periods, such as the Hellenistic Age or the Later Roman Empire. The Department's approach to the subject is based on several assumptions: that the development of the ancient world must be seen as a continuous whole; that from the first year onwards, and increasingly at higher levels, the study of the ancient world must involve some use of the primary ancient evidence in translation if not in the original; and that the aim of the ancient historian is to understand how the ancient world really worked.

Ancient History

What the students say

'This fascinating span of history ...'

'A good and enjoyable course'
(First Year Student)

'A small fun department'

'The course (Second level) combines detail with speed so that one doesn't stagnate on any particular topic.'
(Second Year Student).

Undergraduate enquiries

All admissions queries should be sent to the University admissions department; they will forward relevant questions to our admissions officer.

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