Ancient History

Ancient History at St Andrews is an exciting and diverse subject. It focuses on the ancient Greeks and Romans, but also encompasses their interactions with neighbouring peoples such as the Persians, Carthaginians and Phoenicians. It includes not just the politics of the ancient Mediterranean world, but also social and cultural history, including topics such as ancient urbanism, imperialism, slavery, gender and the family, religion, warfare and economics. It extends from the beginnings of Greek writing and urbanism in the eighth century BCE to the collapse of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century CE, and draws on a wide range of sources of evidence, from the writings of ancient historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides, Sallust and Livy, to inscriptions, letters, literary texts, art and archaeology.



Ancient History MA (Hons)
Ancient History & Archaeology MA (Hons)
Classical Studies (Ancient History & Archaeology pathway) BA (International Hons)

Joint degree options

You can take Ancient History MA (Hons) with another subject as part of a joint degree. 



Classics MLitt
Classics MPhil


Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


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Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 14 March 2018

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Latest in Ancient History at St Andrews

All are welcome to join this two-day workshop on law and deliberation in Athenian philosophy and oratory.


Learn how the movement to places and their topography shaped the foundations of cult sites, as well as their development and functions over time.


A two-day international conference on mountains in Ancient Greek and Roman culture, to be held at St Andrews 8 and 9 June 2017.


Ancient History research areas

The School of Classics has an outstanding record of research in a number of areas of Ancient History including Greek and Roman historiography, ancient warfare, particularly the Roman army, ancient imperialism and its ideology, ancient cities and urbanism, Greek religion, and religious and social change in Late Antiquity.

The following members of staff are currently undertaking research in Ancient History:

  • Dr Ralph Anderson: works on Greek religion and ritual, including divination, and magic.
  • Dr Jon Coulston: works on the archaeology of the Roman empire, Roman art, the city of Rome, ancient warfare, Roman military equipment, the Roman army, and Asiatic steppe nomad cultures.
  • Professor Tom Harrison: works on Greek history, history-writing in antiquity (especially Herodotus), the representation of foreign peoples in Greek literature, Greek religious belief, the history and historiography of the Achaemenid Persian empire.
  • Dr Myles Lavan: conducts research broadly on Roman society and culture, especially the ideology of imperialism, slavery and patronage, Roman historiography, the theory and practice of cultural history, and quantitative and probabilistic approaches to historical questions.
  • Dr Sian Lewis: works on Greek political and social history, especially tyranny from the archaic to the Hellenistic period, iconography and women's history, ancient communications, and the representation and reality of human-animal interactions in the Greek and Roman world.
  • Dr Carlos Machado: works on the social and cultural history of the Roman Empire, particularly ancient urbanism and civic life, including the history and archaeology of the city of Rome and the epigraphic and material cultures of Italy, and religious and social change in Late Antiquity.
  • Professor Christopher Smith: is currently on secondment as the Director of the British School at Rome (2009-2017). His research interests include archaic Greek and Italian history and archaeology, especially issues of state formation and ritual, early Rome, the late Roman Republic, Greek and Roman historiography, particularly the fragmentary historians, and the growth of Roman imperialism.
  • Professor Rebecca Sweetman: works on Greek and Roman archaeology, especially the archaeology of Roman and Late Antique Crete and the Cyclades, the Late Antique Peloponnese (especially Sparta), with a particular focus on religious change in Late Antiquity.

Ancient History research centres

There are two research centres related to Ancient History:

The Centre for Late Antique Studies at St Andrews brings together researchers from a wide range of disciplines across the University with interests in this fascinating and turbulent period of profound social, cultural, religious and political change.

Areas of research include law, literature, archaeology and religion, and recent projects have focused on the development of church space and architecture and the Late Antique culture of praise and blame.

The Centre for Landscape Studies is an interdisciplinary research centre that brings together researchers from across the University and beyond with interests in real and imagined landscapes. Research themes include memory and landscape, landscapes of myth, the aesthetics of landscape and landscape-viewing, the recording of the landscape and the reconstruction of lost historical landscapes.

Current projects include work on mountains in ancient literature and culture and their modern reception, ancient conflict landscapes, and the landscapes of prehistoric Britain.

Careers for graduates in Ancient History

The ancient world is becoming ever more relevant in the lessons it has to offer. Increasingly economists, politicians and lawmakers are considering past histories and their relevance to future policy and strategy. Many graduates also use their degrees more directly in teaching, museum and archaeology.

Ancient History graduates go on to a wide range of professions, including:

  • education
  • museums
  • archaeology
  • law
  • audit
  • accountancy
  • administration
  • civil service
  • nursing
  • banking
  • human resources.

See recent graduate employment case studies.

Work experience

Work experience is invaluable when it comes to securing graduate-level employment. There are a number of Ancient History-specific opportunities at St Andrews for students to gain work experience:

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available to prospective undergraduates, taught postgraduates and PhD students. All applicants are sent a link to our funding catalogue, that will enable them to search and apply for relevant funding.


The University of St Andrews offers a range of scholarships for maintenance and fees. Accommodation awards of up to £3000 per year are available and determined on financial need.

The School of Classics offer bursaries for travel and attendance at language summer schools.

Undergraduate scholarships

Taught postgraduates

The University of St Andrews offers a range of postgraduate funding opportunities. Accommodation awards of up to £3000 per year are available and determined on financial need.

All postgraduate students in the School have access to a travel fund for attending conferences.

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

The School of Classics sets aside funding each year for PhD scholarships to support applications from both the UK and overseas. These scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and research promise, to cover both fees and stipend.

The School supports suitable eligible applicants for AHRC funding disbursed through the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities.

The School supports suitable applicants for a variety of University administered scholarships, such as the Ewan and Christine Brown scholarship, which is worth £7,500 per year.

Accommodation awards of up to £3000 per year are available and determined on financial need.

All postgraduate students in the School have access to a travel fund for attending conferences.

Funding for PhD students


REF 2014

‌The School of Classics was ranked second in the UK and first in Scotland in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. 92% of the School's research was rated world leading and internationally excellent.

University league tables

Classics and Ancient History at St Andrews was ranked third in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017, and fourth in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2017 and the Guardian University Guide 2017.


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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2600

Classics website  Classics research portal