Ancient History and Archaeology MA (Honours) 2023 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 focuses on the 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. 

UCAS code
Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2027
Four years full time
School of Classics

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?

You do not need previous knowledge of archaeology or ancient history to apply.

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

Archaeology 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 & 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. 


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. 

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), archaeology is taught in two ways: as an integral part of understanding ancient societies, in modules shared with the ancient history programme, and in a specialised module that introduces the key archaeological concepts, methodologies, and techniques.  

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, slavery, 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. 

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, the army and the frontiers, 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. 

You can also take this interdisciplinary second-year module: 

  • Introduction to Archaeology: provides a grounding in the main concepts, methodologies, and techniques of investigating the past through material evidence and physical environments. Topics will include methods of identifying and investigating archaeological sites and materials, and how archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners disseminate, preserve, and curate the past for professional and public audiences. 

If you decide to take ancient history and archaeology in your third and fourth years, you will take the following compulsory third-year module: 

  • Principles and Techniques in Archaeology: provides an advanced 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) 
  • Greek Painted Pottery 
  • In the Footsteps of the Ancients: Exploring the Archaeology and Topography of Greece 
  • The Archaeology of Minoan Crete 
  • 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 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 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. 

Most modules in ancient history and 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: 

  • research essays 
  • source analysis 
  • analysis of ancient sites and material evidence 
  • learning diaries 
  • oral presentations. 

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 see the common reporting scale.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of ancient history and 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 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.


Tuition fees have yet to be set.

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 & Archaeology 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


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 and archaeology include: 

  • academia 
  • journalism 
  • libraries and information 
  • museums and heritage 
  • teaching 
  • publishing. 

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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We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

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

School of Classics website

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