Ancient History & Archaeology MA (Hons) 2020 entry
The MA (Hons) in Ancient History & Archaeology explores the civilisations of the ancient Mediterranean through the evidence of their material remains. The course ranges across the whole of the ancient Mediterranean and deals with a period stretching from the early first millennium BCE to Late Antiquity. The Greeks and Romans are the main focus of the course, but there are opportunities to study the lives of their neighbours too, including peoples such as the Persians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Etruscans. This degree will take you to the heart of key debates on all areas of life in the ancient Mediterranean, including urbanism, religion, trade, warfare, colonisation, ecology and cultural identity.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Archaeology degrees page. 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 entrance 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.
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, 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 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.
The MA (Hons) in Ancient History & Archaeology is a four-year course run by the School of Classics. The course focuses on the broad applications of archaeology to the history and culture of the ancient Mediterranean, and is closely integrated with other degree programmes in the School of Classics.
During your first two years of study, you will typically take the modules offered by the Ancient History MA single Honours degree. These explore Greek history from the emergence of Greek urban settlement in the eighth century BCE to the time of Alexander the Great, and Roman history from the earliest beginnings of Rome to the growth of its empire and its disintegration in Late Antiquity. The study of archaeology and material culture is deeply integrated into these sub-honours modules. Some modules feature specific archaeological segments and topics and offer the choice to conduct assessed work on archaeological themes. In other modules, archaeology shapes and informs all the topics you will study. In the second year, practical sessions using items from the University’s museum collections are introduced, and there is an increased emphasis on archaeological methodology. The emphasis during this time is on learning to use archaeological and historical sources together and on understanding the impact of archaeological research, including both excavation and survey, on the modern understanding of the ancient Mediterranean.
In the first year of your studies, you will be required to study three 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, you will undertake advanced training in archaeological principles and analysis and choose from a wide range of modules that are largely or entirely archaeological in content.
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.
Staff within the University occasionally conduct active fieldwork programmes. When these programmes are running, students are encouraged to apply for placement. If they are not running, every effort is made to help students find a place on an archaeological project.
In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), there are no separate modules in Archaeology at this level, and Archaeology is taught as an integral part of approaches to understanding ancient and medieval societies. Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.
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.
You will take the following second-year Ancient History modules, but may take second-year Classical Studies modules instead:
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.
If you decide to take Ancient History & Archaeology in your third and fourth years, you will take the following compulsory third-year module:
Principles and Techniques in Archaeology: provides an induction to the practical conduct of archaeology and how it affects the results of excavations and surveys, and an in-depth introduction to key archaeological topics and theories.
You will then choose from a variety of advanced options which incorporate archaeology into the study of ancient civilisations and cultures, focusing on topics such as cities and urbanisation, networks, ancient art and sculpture, and the Bronze Age civilisations of the Aegean.
Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:
Art of the Roman Empire
Cities and Urban Life in Late Antiquity (300-700 CE)
From Pompeii to Aquileia: The Archaeology of Roman Italy (50 BCE – 300 CE)
Greek Painted Pottery
In the Footsteps of the Ancients: Exploring the Archaeology and Topography of Greece
The Archaeology of Roman Britain
The Ancient City of Rome
The Roman Army.
In fourth year, students have the option of undertaking a dissertation of about 10,000 words on an approved topic in Archaeology. 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.
Teaching at sub-honours level is delivered primarily through lectures (70 to 120 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.
You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Ancient History & Archaeology. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars and workshops under the supervision of the module co-ordinator.
In addition to your studies in the School of Classics, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.
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.
Most modules in Ancient History & Archaeology are assessed by 50% coursework and 50% examination. However, some modules are assessed solely or mainly on coursework, and others include practical assessment. Coursework can include:
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 every assessment 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. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale web page.
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.
The optional Honours module 'In the Footsteps of the Ancients', which is not offered every year, includes a compulsory field trip in Greece. Students must pay for accommodation, travel within Greece, and entry permits. They must also pay for travel and health insurance, the flights to and from Greece, and meals other than breakfast. Some financial help may be available.
Archaeology courses at St Andrews do not provide the full training in British archaeology appropriate for someone set on working in professional or commercial archaeology in the UK. Nevertheless, recent graduates have gone on to work as professional archaeologists while others have taken professional qualifications in museum studies.
Popular career areas for students who have taken Ancient History & Archaeology include:
libraries and information
museums and heritage
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.
Archaeology students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of Archaeology may be interested in joining the following societies:
The Bacchae Society is the student society for everyone with an interest in all things classical.
The School of Classics is housed in Swallowgate, an attractive building which overlooks the sea and is close to the University Library and St Salvator's Quadrangle. Students will typically attend tutorials, seminars and meetings with tutors in this building, while larger lectures are held nearby in St Salvator’s.
The Swallowgate building also houses the School of Classics’ class library. The class library contains books that supplement the extensive holdings in the main Library and closely support the School’s undergraduate programmes. It is a lovely additional study space for students in the School.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).