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Ancient and Medieval History (BA)

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Course details

Ancient and Medieval History offers the opportunity to study the history of Greece and Rome in the Classical period (600 BCE - 700CE) and how that world developed into the Medieval period (c. 600 CE - 1400 CE). The course brings together the two key periods of pre-modern history, offering students the opportunity to compare and contrast pre-modern social and political systems and to develop the knowledge, theories and methodologies necessary for the study of these periods of history.

Ancient history is a fundamental area of study: its politics, events and development lying behind our understanding of many aspects of historical societies and, indeed, our own culture. The course explores themes in Greek and Roman history, such as the emergence (and fall) of democracy and the rise, decline and fall of empires.

Medieval history shows a world transformed from its archaic predecessor, but a world whose history and consequences are with us still, be it through the development of international relations, the formation of geopolitical regions (Christendom/ the Islamic world), or the development of town life.

The course builds your skills and knowledge from day one and will develop your understanding of key periods and problems in ancient and medieval history. You will have the opportunity to explore the methodologies of history (ancient, medieval and modern). In year two, the experience of historical periods will be deepened and widened and you will develop your skills in research whilst exploring your individual interests, which will culminate in specialist studies and individual research projects in year three.

You will also have the opportunity to apply to spend a year studying abroad.  We have exchange agreements with excellent universities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. We are also an active participant in the Erasmus programme, and have links with prestigious universities across Europe. Students apply during their second year, and, if successful, will study abroad during their third year, before returning to Royal Holloway for a fourth and final year of study.

Key facts

Key facts about the course
UCAS code VV19
Qualification Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Duration Three years full time
Department Classics; History

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time undergraduate degrees must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Further information on making your application through UCAS is available on the Applying section of our website.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. The College runs three annual Open days which give you the chance to meet our students and teaching staff, and get a taste of what university life is really like.

Prospective students who receive an offer of a place are invited to attend a UCAS day, where they are shown around the department, given the opportunity to speak with academic members of staff and meet current students.

Entry requirements


Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels ABB or equivalent
GCSE  At least five GCSE passes at grades A* to C, including Maths and English.
English language
IELTS 6.5 overall, with 7.0 in writing and minimum of 5.5 in each subscore for equivalencies please see here
Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5 at Higher Level with 32 points overall
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject area.
BTEC National Diploma Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject plus an A2 grade B.
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma Distinction in a relevant subject plus A2 grades B, B.
Welsh Baccalaureate Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Level Core.
Scottish Advanced Highers AB plus AABBB at Higher
Scottish Highers  AABBB plus AB at Advanced Higher
Irish Leaving Certificate  AABBB at Higher Level
Access to Higher Education Diploma

Pass in a relevant subject with at least 30 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit

Other UK Qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below

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International and EU Entry Requirements

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Typical offers

Typical offers
English language
Other UK Qualifications Year 2
International Baccalaureate  
BTEC Extended Diploma  
BTEC National Diploma  
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma  
Welsh Baccalaureate  
Scottish Advanced Highers  
Scottish Highers  
Irish Leaving Certificate  
Access to Higher Education Diploma  

Other UK Qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below

Please select a qualification

Please select a qualification

International and EU Entry Requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and we accept a broad range of qualifications. Special consideration will be given to mature applicants, and we are happy to consider applicants with other qualifications, including QAA-approved Access to HE courses.

Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant is 21 or over at the time of application and has had a considerable break from education.

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for further information on the entry requirements from their country and English language requirements.  Royal Holloway International offers an International Foundation Programme and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their undergraduate degree.

We make decisions based on achieved or predicted grades, personal statements and references. More information on how your application will be assessed, and tips for your personal statement can be found on our Applying pages.

Applicants who receive an offer to study at Royal Holloway will be invited to attend an Applicant Visit Day. An Applicant Visit Day provides you the opportunity to visit the College and the Department, to sit in on a first year lecture and to attend a presentation by the Admissions Tutor. You will also get the opportunity to have a friendly and informal individual meeting with a member of academic staff. 

Why choose this course?

  • You will be taught by a range of internationally recognised experts in the field.
  • You will develop a detailed understanding and knowledge of a variety of critical approaches to ancient and medieval history, including methodological questions.
  • You will develop transferable skills useful in any walk of life, such as critical analysis, presentational skills, and an awareness of different approaches to crucial issues.
  • You will have the opportunity to study in a supportive and friendly environment.

What you'll learn

You will learn about the history and society of antiquity, from the beginnings of Classical civilisation in the seventh century BCE to the fall of the Roman Empire in the seventh century CE. You will learn about the Medieval world, its traditions, religions, politics and modes of thought. You will study social developments, military history, cultural history, economics and the history of personal relations, including gender and family. You'll get a grounding in methodologies: including how to read primary and secondary sources, how to balance evidence and ways of thinking about historical and social issues. Our courses bring you close to the primary material, the writings and artifacts, and allow you to develop your knowledge and skills.

View the full course specification for Ancient and Medieval History (BA) in the Programme Specification Repository

How you'll learn & be assessed

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at the rate of 4 whole units per year. At least 4 course units of Ancient History must be taken over the three years of the degree, one at year 3 level and 3 course units of Medieval History, at least one at year 3 level. You will be able to mix Ancient and Medieval courses as suits your particular interests and develop your own specialisms within the flexible provision on offer.

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials, depending on the subjects studied. Much of your work will be outside class: reading in the library or via e-learning resources (we have a comprehensive e-learning facility called Moodle). You will also be preparing for seminars and lectures, working on essays, and undertaking group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study.

In your final year we provide ongoing support for your dissertation work, which usually includes:

  • Lectures and practical sessions on Dissertation Research Methods e.g. planning your topics, carrying out research, using specialist resources, finding information in print and online, and managing your search results and references. These sessions are run in conjunction with the Library Service and are generally also open to second year students.
  • Short departmental writing ‘surgeries’, in which academic staff offer general writing support if you experiencing problems and/or those who have specific queries.

Assessment takes place by a flexible combination of essays, projects, examinations and tests, various methods being employed depending on the nature of the course unit and the intended learning outcomes. In the third year, you complete a guided and extended piece of independent research, a 10,000 word dissertation on a historical subject. 

Employability & career opportunities

Choosing a Classical subject at Royal Holloway will equip you with a broad range of skills, such as the ability to analyse and summarise content, critically evaluate resources and construct coherent arguments in the written and spoken word. Studying an intellectually demanding discipline will demonstrate to employers that you enjoy being challenged and are able to understand complex issues. You will also develop the transferable skills valued by employers: communication and presentation skills, teamwork, time management and critical thinking. 

Our recent graduates have very successfully entered a wide range of careers including law, government, publishing, finance, teaching, marketing and the media. Many have also progressed to postgraduate study in a variety of fields. To find out more about what our students are doing now, please visit the Classics department’s website.

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