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Ancient History with Philosophy BA

Please note that information shown below may be subject to change.

UCAS code
Year of entry
View 2019 entry »
Course length
3 years full time
Classics »
Politics and International Relations »

By combining Ancient History (75% of your course) with Philosophy (25%) you'll have the opportunity to study the history of Greece and Rome in the Classical period as the major element of your degree alongside ancient and modern philosophy. With roots of the subject anchored in the ancient world, Philosophy makes an ideal partner for classical subjects.

Taught by a variety of internationally recognised experts, Ancient History offers the opportunity to study the history of Greece and Rome in the Classical period (600 BCE to 700 CE). Over three years you will delve into the politics, events and developments underpinning our understanding of many aspects of historical societies and, indeed, our own culture. You will explore themes, key periods and problems in Greek and Roman history, such as the emergence (and fall) of democracy and the rise, decline and fall of Empires.

As a student of Ancient History you will be part of our Classics Department, where the quality of research that informs our teaching and a friendly, individual approach which shapes the way we guide our students combine to create an unbeaten academic experience.

  • The Department of Classics is a centre for excellence in both teaching and research, 98% of our research is recognized as world-leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognized (REF 2014).

At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European tradition of philosophy focus on both traditions, their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative programme that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.

With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the mind and consciousness, aesthetics and morals, the self and others, the range of subjects available to Philosophy students at Royal Holloway guarantees that there will be something on offer that really engages you during your time with us.

Core modules

Year 1

The core modules in Ancient History are:

Classics: Greek History and The City State

In this introductory module you will examine Greek history, society, and institutions from the 6th to the late 4th century BC, with particular attention being paid to the problems and methods of reconstructing the past from ancient sources, and the development of the city-state as a form of political organization.

Classics: Key Themes in Roman History

This module covers the full chronological range of Roman historiography from the Republic to the Empire to establish certain broad characteristics of periods. You will be taught to understand the relationship between particular events and the development and maintenance of social and political forms.

Classics: Studying Classical Antiquity

In this module you will be provided with essential skills necessary for academic study at university, thus 'bridging the gap' from school / college-level study. You will be taught by a team of experienced academic staff, and each session will focus on a specific study skill (e.g. making the most of lectures/seminars, avoiding plagiarism, etc). You will also be shown how different academic disciplines combine to give a fuller picture of classical culture. Through the module, you will build your self-confidence as a student, and will be made aware of the transferable employability skills you will gain from your degree programme.

The core module in Philosophy is:

Epistemology and Metaphysics

In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key problems that have preoccupied contemporary philosophers. You will look at logical questions relating to the structure of arguments, epistemological questions about the sources and limits of knowledge, and consider metaphysical questions that explore the relationship between minds, bodies, and the possibilities of human freedoms.

You will also take one from the following:

Introduction to Logic

In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic - sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. You will learn how to present and analyse arguments formally, and look at the implications and uses of logical analysis by considering Bertrand Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions. You will also examine the the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.

Mind and Consciousness

In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. You will examine the key theories, from Descartes' dualist conception of the relationship between mind and body through to Chalmers's conception of consciousness as 'the hard problem' in the philosophy of mind. You will also consider some of the famous thought experiments in this area, including Descartes's and Laplace's demons, the Chinese Room and the China Brain, Mary and the black-and-white room, and the problem of zombie and bat consciousness.

Introduction to Aesthetics and Morals

In this module you will develop an understanding of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. You will look at questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, including the ways we view our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art. You will also examine approaches from the history of philosophy, including the Anglo-American tradition and recent European philosophy.

Year 2

The core modules in Ancient History are:

Classics: Greek History to 322 BC

In this module you will study Greek political and social history from Homer to Alexander, from the emergence of classical Greek civilisation and institutions in the 9th century BC to the break-up of the classical Greek world at the hands of Macedon.

Classics: Greek Historiography

This module aims to explore the genre of Greek historiography from Hecataeus to Diodorus Siculus (early 5th to 1st Century BC), and addresses issues and problems of interpretation, and ways of handling fragments of Greek historiography preserved in various other genres of later Greek literature. In it, you will develop a broad understanding of the field and methods of Ancient History, and improve your understanding of the field and skills in approaching sources.

Classics: Historiography of the Roman World

In this module you will study the full chronological range of Roman historiography from the Republic to the Empire, and be educated in the broad sweep of Roman historiography and Roman history.

History: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic

This module covers the history of the Roman Republic from the foundation of Rome to the murder of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Lectures and seminars will trace the rise of Rome from city-state to world power and examine the pressures that drove Rome to conquer her Mediterranean empire and the consequences of that expansion for the Romans and for the peoples they conquered.

History: The Roman Empire from Augustus to Commodus

This module traces the history of the Roman Empire from the achievement of sole power by the first emperor, Augustus (31 BC to AD 14), to the murder of Commodus in AD 192. You will assess the political, social and cultural developments under the emperors and explore fundamental themes including imperial frontier policy and administration, the process of Romanisation, and the nature of Roman religion.

The core modules in Philosophy are:

Introduction to European Philosophy 1 - From Kant to Hegel

In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major espistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

Mind and World

Year 3

All modules are optional

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Optional modules in Ancient History include:

Classics: Greek Literature

Classics: Roman Literature Of The Republic

Classics: Roman Literature of the Empire

Classics: Individual and Community

Classics: Introduction To Greek Archaeology

Classics: Introduction to Roman Archaeology

Classics: Beginners' Greek

Classics: Intermediate Greek

Classics: Greek Language and Reading

Classics: Beginners' Latin

Classics: Intermediate Latin

Classics: Latin Language and Reading

Year 2

Optional modules in Ancient History include:

Classics: The Built Environment in Classical Antiquity

Classics: Pompeii and Herculaneum

Classics: Gender in Classical Antiquity

Classics: Athens 478 to 429 BC (Peryclean Athens)

Classics: Augustus - Propaganda and Power

Classics: The Roman Republic - A Social and Economic History

Classics: The Rise of the Roman Empire - An Economic and Social History

Classics: Homer (in Translation)

Classics: Virgil (in Translation)

Classics: Ovid’s Metamorphoses - Art and Power in Augustan Rome

Classics: Virgil’s Aeneid: The Empire in the Literary Imagination

Classics: Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy 1

Classics: The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy

Classics: Intensive Greek

Classics: Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture

Classics: Intensive Latin

Classics: Greek Historiography

Classics: Latin Love Elegy

History: The Later Roman Empire

Year 3

Optional modules in Ancient History include:

Classics: Hadrian's Wall

Classics: Archaeology of Athens and Attica

Classics: Roman Orator

Classics: Gender in Classical Antiquity

Classics: Alexander the Great

Classics: Greek Law and Lawcourts

Classics: Roman Army

Classics: The City from Augustus to Charlemagne

Classics: Religion and the Ancient Greeks

Classics: Greek Lyric, Eros and Social Order

Classics: Nature and the Supernatural in Latin Literature

Classics: Studying Ancient Myth

Classics: Adventures in Greek Theatre with Iphigenia

Classics: Ancient Greek Emotions

Classics: Tacitus - The Making of History

Classics: The Philosophy of Aristotle

Classics: Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy 2

Classics: The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy 2

Classics: Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics

Classics: Philosophy under the Roman Empire

Classics: Further Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture

Classics: Greek Prose Composition

Classics: Greek Verse Composition

Classics: Latin Prose Composition

Classics: Latin Verse Composition

History: Christians and Pagans from Constantine to Augustine (AD 306 to 430 AD)

Politics and International Relations: Moral Problems In Politics

Politics and International Relations: Radical Political Theory - Nietzsche and Foucault

Philosophy: Philosophy of Psychology

Philosophy: Practical Ethics

Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy: Modern European Philosophy 1 - Husserl to Heidegger

Philosophy: Modern European Philosophy 2 - Critical Theory and Hermeneutics

Philosophy: Recovering Reality

Philosophy: The Self and Others

Philosophy: Recovering Reality

Philosophy: Philosophy of Psychology

Philosophy: The Varieties of Scepticism

Philosophy: The Philosophy of Religion

Optional modules in Philosophy include:

Practical Ethics
Modern French Philosophy
Major Thinker
Philosophy of Language
Modern European Philosophy 1 - Husserl to Heidegger
Modern European Philosophy 2 - Post-structuralism and its Critics
Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at the rate of four units per year. At least five units of Ancient History must be taken over the three years of the degree, with at least two at year 3 level.

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and individual tutorials, depending on the subjects studied. Outside classes, you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study, including completing language exercises and reading prescribed and open material. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

In your final year the Classics department provides 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, students complete a guided and extended piece of independent research, a 10,000 word dissertation, on a historical subject.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 15% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 85% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 15% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 85% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 11% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 89% in guided independent study.


Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 59% of the total assessment for this year of study, 1% will be assessed through practical exams and 40% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 69% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 31% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 65% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 35% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers

How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.
  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Required/preferred subjects

We require at least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics. 

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5 at Higher level with 32 points overall  
BTEC National Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject area 
Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject plus an A-level grade B
BTEC National Extended Certificate Distinction in a relevant subject plus A-levels 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 Skills Challenge Certificate 
Scottish Advanced Highers ABB  
Scottish Highers AABBB 
Irish Leaving Certificate H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level   
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass in a relevant subject with at least 24 level 3 credits at Distinction and the remaining level 3 credits at Merit. Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education 

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

English language

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in each remaining subscore

For equivalencies please see here 

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Our degree programmes not only promote academic achievement but also the means to hone the life-skills necessary to excel, post-graduation.

Studying a Classical subject requires research, assessment, reasoning, organization and self-management often on your own or as part of a team.  In Philosophy you learn to develop and express reasoned arguments, to use logical processing and critical analysis to defend your position and debate opposing opinions. So, by choosing to study these intellectually demanding disciplines in combination you will develop a broad range of skills which are highly prized by employers, including:

  • the ability to communicate views and present arguments clearly and coherently
  • the ability to critically digest, analyse and summarise content
  • time management and the discipline to meet deadlines
  • organisation and research skills
  • problem-solving skills and capability

Being able to understand and process complex issues, to critically evaluate resources and construct coherent arguments both verbally and in writing is why many Royal Holloway classicists become employed in law, marketing, publishing, the media, government and finance.  With its emphasis on reason and argumentation, philosophy is an excellent preparation for a career in law, religion, business, international diplomacy, social work, medical management or writing as well as post-graduate education. 

Employers like Channel 4, multinational law firm SJ Berwin, The Guildhall (City of London), accountancy firm KPMG, the Natural History Museum, Customs and Immigration, London Advertising, Broadstone Pensions and Investments and the Armed Forces have all recently recruited Royal Holloway alumni from the Department of Classics.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19**: £16,500

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations, and for students starting a degree in the academic year 2018/19 will be £9,250 for that year. The UK Government has confirmed that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.

**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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