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Classical Archaeology and Ancient History BA

New Course for 2018 - Programme Under Development

UCAS code
Year of entry
Course length
3 years full time
Classics »

If you are fascinated by the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome and keen to develop transferable skills such as critical analysis then this course is for you.

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.

You will build skills and knowledge from day one. In year two, the experience of historical periods will be deepened and widened and you will develop skills in research and concentrate on your individual interests, which will culminate in specialist studies and individual research projects in year three. As you build knowledge and understanding of a formative and fascinating period of world history, you will have the opportunity to study in other areas of the curriculum, notably: archaeology, literature, philosophy and language.

There is also the possibility of spending a year abroad, experiencing the profound effect these classical cultures have had on history, culture and politics.

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.

  • 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).
  • Top in the UK for overall student satisfaction, scoring 100% in The National Student Survey of 2015.
  • A thriving Classics Society that contributes to the friendly and sociable atmosphere of our department.
  • A vibrant, stimulating environment in which to learn, producing graduates with an outstanding record for employment or further study. 

Core modules

Year 1

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.

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.

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.

Year 2

Greek History to 322BC

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Year 3

Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is a unit of independent study under the supervision of an expert member of staff. You will be required to write between 8,000 and 10,000 words. 

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

Greek Literature

Roman Literature Of The Republic

Roman Literature of the Empire

Individual and Community

Introduction To Greek Archaeology

Introduction to Roman Archaeology

Beginners' Greek

Intermediate Greek

Greek Language and Reading

Beginners' Latin

Intermediate Latin

Latin Language and Reading

Introduction To Ancient Philosophy

Year 2

The Built Environment in Classical Antiquity

Greek And Roman Art In Context

Pompeii and Herculaneum

Second Year Projects

Gender in Classical Antiquity

Greek Law And Lawcourts

Greek History to 404

Greek History from 403 to 322

Augustus - Propaganda and Power

The Roman Republic - A social and Economic history

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

Homer (In Translation)

Greek Drama

Classics and Cinema

Ovid’s Metamorphoses - Art and Power in Augustan Rome

Perspectives on Roman Britain

Virgil’s Aeneid - The Empire in the Literary Imagination

The Dialogues of Plato

Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy 1

The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy

Logic And Rhetoric

Hellenistic Epic - Apollonius of Rhodes

Imperial Greek Poetry - Epic and Epigram

Homer (In Greek)

The Tragedy Of Euripides

Greek Dramatic Texts 2


Plato (in Greek)

Imperial Greek Literature

Greek Historiography


Lucretius and Virgil

Latin Love Elegy

Roman Satire

Latin Epic

Latin Historiography

Greek Erotic Poetry (in Greek)

Catullus and Horace

Year 3

Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture

Hadrian's Wall

City of Athens

Gender in Classical Antiquity

Alexander the Great

Greek Law and Lawcourts

Homer (in Translation)

The Archaeology of Roman Near East

The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy 2


The Roman Novel

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units or modules at the rate of four whole units per year. At least 7.5 modules of Ancient History must be taken over the three years of the degree, three modules at year 2 level, and three at year 3 level.

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, 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, students complete a guided and extended piece of independent research, a 10,000 word dissertation, on a historical subject.

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  5,5,5 at Higher level with 32 points overall  
BTEC National Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject
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-BBB 
Scottish Highers AABBB 
Irish Leaving Certificate H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level   
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass in a relevant subjectwith at least 15 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 Ancient History requires research, assessment, reasoning, organization and self-management often on your own or as part of a team. So, by choosing to study this intellectually demanding discipline 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. 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*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year**: £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.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates starting their degrees in 2018 is controlled by Government regulations, and details are not yet known. The UK Government has also announced 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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