Ancient History

Ancient History at St Andrews 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. It 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.


Undergraduate - 2020 entry

Ancient History MA (Hons)
Ancient History & Archaeology MA (Hons)
Classical Studies (Ancient History & Archaeology pathway) BA (International Hons)
Gateway to Arts Pathway to MA (Hons)
FE-HE Pathway to Arts Pathway to MA (Hons)

Joint degree options

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

International Foundation programmes - 2020 entry

International Foundation programmes prepare international students for undergraduate study in the UK and at the University of St Andrews in particular.

Social Sciences and Humanities September Foundation
Social Sciences and Humanities January Foundation

Postgraduate - 2020 entry


Classics MLitt
Classics MPhil


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

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

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 1 April 2020
  • Wednesday 8 April 2020
  • Wednesday 15 April 2020

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  • Wednesday 11 March 2020

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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
  • 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.

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.

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 the funding catalogue where you can 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 £1,500 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 £1,500 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.

Accommodation awards of up to £1,500 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

The School of Classics was ranked first in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2020 and fourth in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2020 for overall student satisfaction and quality of teaching and research.


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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2600

Classics website  Classics research portal