Ancient History MA (Honours) 2024 entry

The MA (Hons) in Ancient History explores the history of Greece and Rome, and that of 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, which at times extends from the Persian Gulf to the Clyde and from the Crimea to the Sahara.

Thematically, the course deals not only with political and military history, but also with topics such as gender and sexuality, slavery, colonisation, religion, cultural contacts between peoples, and the ecology and economy of the ancient Mediterranean. Students will also study the nature of ancient evidence and the way that the Greeks and Romans represented the past and reinvented it to meet their changing needs.

UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2028
Four years full time
School of Classics
“I chose Ancient History as St Andrews offers a broad range of classes taught around the research interests of the lecturers, so going into the class you know that it is a topic being actively researched and contributed to by the people teaching you.”
- Texas, USA

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

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 entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
  • Standard entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,6,5)
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5)

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No prior knowledge of ancient history is required.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Gateway programmes

Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades but meet the University's contextual criteria may be interested in the Gateway to Arts programme.

Study abroad

Ancient history students can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

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.

During your first two years of study, you will explore the history of the ancient Mediterranean and surrounding lands from a number of different perspectives; ancient empires - Persian, Hellenistic and Roman, cities from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman empire, social history through case studies, and the histories that the Greeks and Romans constructed for themselves.  

Alongside ancient history, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

At Honours-level (third and fourth year), 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. 

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.


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).

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules:

  • Ancient Empires: explores how imperial states built and maintained their power; the experiences of other populations and cultures that were conquered or incorporated into ancient empires; and the contested legacies of imperial states, both in antiquity and today.
  • Cities and communities in the ancient Mediterranean: explores urbanisation by examining changing physical as well as social relations between people, as well as between people and their environments. We will study the rise and fall of the ancient city, including its ecology and domestic politics, and modern debates over ancient urbanism.

Students on this degree typically take the following Ancient History modules in their second year, but may choose to take second-year Classical Studies modules instead:

  • Ancient Societies: Gender, ethnicity, and inequality in the ancient world: surveys the fundamental divisions that gave shape to ancient social life, examining issues like gender, inequality, and ethnic identity through a broad range of sources and methodologies.
  • Narratives of antiquity: examines influential narratives from the ancient world and their reinterpretations in later periods, from the nineteenth century to the present day, and how they continue to shape the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves for better or for worse.

Students can replace one or both of these modules with second-year Classical Studies modules in order to adapt the programme to suit their interests. Second-year modules in Classical Studies are:

  • Culture and Thought in the Late Roman Republic: studies the art and literature of Rome in the Late Republic (first century BCE). Key literary texts, such as the passionate poetry of Catullus and the stylish rhetoric of Cicero, are set against the broader backdrop of Roman political, cultural and social life in this turbulent period of civil war and dictatorship.
  • Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy: studies the earliest phases of the Greek literary and philosophical tradition in the archaic and early classical Greek world. It explores the diversity of early Greek thought through the poetry and philosophy of the period, and explores themes of conflict, justice, love and the relationship between mortals and gods.

Ancient history students must take the core module Approaches to Ancient History in their third year. In addition, you will choose from a 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 and Archaeology MA and Classical Studies MA programmes, which will give you an even wider choice of social, cultural and historical topics to explore.

Here is a sample of Honours modules that have been offered in previous years:

  • Floods, Famines, Plagues and Volcanoes: Roman Adaptation to the Environment
  • Persia and the Greeks
  • Poverty and social life in Late Antiquity
  • Religious Communities in the Late Antique World
  • Roman Slavery
  • The Environmental History of the Ancient Mediterranean World
  • The Rise of Rome. Early Italy from Prehistory to the First Punic War
  • The Supremacy of Greece: Athens, Sparta and Thebes 479 to 366 BCE.

In fourth year, students also undertake an 8,000-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 compulsory modules listed here must be taken 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. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


Teaching at sub-honours level is delivered primarily through lectures (70 to 140 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. 

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.

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

  • reading ancient source material in translation 
  • reading journal articles and books 
  • working on individual projects 
  • undertaking research in the library 
  • preparing coursework assignments and
  • presentations 
  • preparing for examinations. 

Sub-honours modules in ancient history are typically assessed by 1000% coursework. In Honours moudles you will encounter a wider range of assessment formats, which can include:

  • research essays
  • source analysis
  • analysis of material and artistic evidence
  • learning diaries
  • oral presentations
  • written examinations.

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

The School aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of ancient history. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars and workshops under the supervision of the module coordinator.

You can find contact information for all staff in the School of Classics on the School of Classics website

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.



England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

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.

Funding and scholarships

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

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Ancient History as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

Course name UCAS code
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History & Archaeology and Social AnthropologyVVL6
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Art HistoryVVD3
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Biblical StudiesVV16
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Comparative LiteratureVQ12
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and EconomicsLVD1
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and EnglishLVD2
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Film StudiesVP13
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and FrenchRVD1
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and French (With Integrated Year Abroad)RV1D
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and GermanRVG1
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and German (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVF1
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and GreekQV71
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and International RelationsVL21
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and ItalianRV31
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Italian (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVHD
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and LatinQV61
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and MathematicsGVC1
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Medieval HistoryV1V1
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and PersianRQ16
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and PhilosophyVV15
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Social AnthropologyV1L6
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and SpanishVR14
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Spanish (With Integrated Year Abroad)RVL1

Joint degrees taken with Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish are also available With Integrated Year Abroad. 


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
  • flexible thinking
  • 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.

What to do next

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Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2600
School of Classics
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

School of Classics website

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