Ancient History MA (Hons) 2020 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, colonization, 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.
Master of Arts (single Honours degree)
Four years full time
- Start date: 7 September 2020
- End date: 30 June 2024
Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. 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.
- Standard entry grades: AAAB
- Minimum entry grades: AABB
- Gateway entry grades: BBBB
- Standard entry grades: AAA
- Minimum entry grades: ABB
- Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
- Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
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.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.How to apply
Do I need to have studied this subject before?
No prior knowledge of Ancient History is required.
General entry requirements
All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.
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.
St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The School of Classics at St Andrews has an international reputation for the diversity of teaching programmes offered. The School has expertise in history and archaeology from the archaic Greek period to Late Antiquity. It also has expertise in literature from the Greek classical and imperial periods to the Later Roman Empire, including the Greek literature of the Roman Empire, and later engagement with the Classics from the Renaissance to the modern day.
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.
The School was ranked best in Scotland and second in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) for the quality and impact of its research.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
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:
- The Greeks in a Wider World: surveys Greek history from the origins of the Greek city-states in the Archaic period (ca. 800 BCE), through the heyday of Athens’ empire and democracy in the fifth century and the struggle for supremacy among the Greek cities in the fourth, to Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire. Alongside political and military history, the module tackles topics such as religious belief, sexuality, and Greek interactions with other peoples of the ancient Mediterranean world.
- Rome and the Mediterranean: traces Rome’s trajectory from a small settlement in central Italy to the centre of a Mediterranean empire. The module examines a wide range of topics, including politics, the family, religion, slavery, poverty and the economy. It exposes the links between the growth of Rome’s power abroad and the transformation and eventual collapse of its Republican government at home and the rise of the first emperor, Augustus.
Second-year compulsory modules in Ancient History are:
- The Roman Empire: explores the complex history of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Late Antiquity, an empire which, for the first and last time, united the whole Mediterranean and its diverse hinterlands. The history and archaeology of the empire are studied through the themes such as power, society, cultures, soldiers, cities, economies, and religions. How did an ever-changing imperial monarchy oversee a relatively stable, slave-owning domain? What powers of coercion and persuasion did Rome exert? How was Rome and its empire culturally transformed over the centuries?
- Mediterranean Communities: examines the history and archaeology of human settlement in the Mediterranean world throughout the whole of classical antiquity. In the course of the first millennium BCE and the first half of the first millennium CE (ca. 1000 BCE to 500 CE), the Mediterranean was transformed from a world of tiny peasant and tribal communities to a world of complexly connected cities, states and empires. This module brings together themes of ecology, economy, urbanism, networks and the state to ask big questions about how and why classical civilisation emerged when and where it did.
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: surveys the very origins of Western civilisation in the archaic and early classical Greek world. The module studies 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 & 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:
- Eight Scenes from the Life of Alexander the Great
- Floods, famines, plagues and volcanoes: Roman adaptation to the environment
- Greek Tyranny
- Persia and the Greeks
- Religious Communities in the Late Antique World
- Roman Slavery
- The Culture of Roman Imperialism
- The Supremacy of Greece: Athens, Sparta and Thebes 479-362 BCE.
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 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 available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
Joint Honours degrees
You can take Ancient History as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following listed subjects.
“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.”
George (Texas, USA)