BA Ancient History

To understand the present, you need to discover the past. That is exactly what you will do as you delve into the rise and development of ancient civilisations over several millennia. Whereas most Ancient History programmes focus on just Greece and Rome, at Birmingham we offer you Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East in equal measure.Our wide range of specialisms means you can study a diverse range of periods, countries and cultures, to suit your interests.

Your learning experiences will take place in a variety of contexts including lectures, small-class seminars, workshops, independent research projects, and field trips. In your second year our unique Study Tour module provides you with the opportunity to travel to another country relevant to your studies. Most of our students travel to Italy, Greece and Turkey. The cost of this two-week trip is subsidised by the University. There is also a chance to learn many ancient languages, such as Latin, Greek, Egyptian, or even Sumerian and Akkadian. Student satisfaction scores for Ancient History at Birmingham are very high with 91% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course.

As a Birmingham Ancient History graduate, you will be in high demand and well placed to forge a rewarding career in a variety of spheres, including law, education, media, publishing, government, museums and charities, as well as cultural and heritage organisations. 90% of our Ancient History graduates are in work or further study within six months of graduation.

Course fact file

UCAS code: V110

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 55

Applications in 2013: 259

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September


Ancient History at Birmingham draws together the four main subject areas: Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East. As many of our students will have had little chance to explore Ancient History at school or college,  our initial focus will be on helping you adapt to new ways of working. Our Ancient History degree offers you coherence and flexibility: foundation modules provide you with the knowledge and skills you need, but at the same time you can choose to study a diverse range of subjects across our wide range of specialisms. Our focus on understanding ancient civilisations will include exploring primary sources, both the Classical, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian texts which have survived to the modern day, and the monuments and objects that the members of those civilisations. No previous knowledge of Greek, Latin, Egyptian or Sumerian is required and all texts are read in translation, except in specialist language modules.

Why study this course

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham is one of the few university departments in the UK that draws together the study of Greece and Rome with Egypt and the Near East. Our academic staff offer a wide range of expertise in the history, culture, archaeology and languages of the ancient world. The University is also home to the Eton Myers Collection at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts: one of the finest collections of ancient Egyptian decorative art in the world.  Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five Russell Group departments of Classics in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Study here and you will have the privilege of learning from academics who are at the forefront of interdisciplinary research in all the major civilisations of the ancient Mediterranean, from Sumer, Mesopotamia and Egypt, to all periods of classical antiquity up to and beyond the end of the Roman Empire. We also provide linguistic expertise in Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Ancient Greek, and Latin. One of the highlights of your degree programme will be a real voyage of discovery – to Italy, Greece, Turkey, or somewhere else relevant to your studies - in the two-week study tour you will undertake at Easter in your second year. A small group of you with similar interests will be guided by us in planning your own personal tours, setting objectives to inform your individual projects and carrying them out to present a lucid and lively academic report on what you have seen, experienced and discovered. The cost of the study tour is subsidised by the University.

At Birmingham, you will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our unique degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually supervised research into topics of your choice.


First year

You will gain a thorough grounding in Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Near Eastern culture and societies, as well as opening up some wider interdisciplinary perspectives.

Second year

Our Ancient History core module develops your analytical skills and introduces you to advanced historical theory and methodology. You will engage in-depth with key periods and problems in ancient history, and examine the process of writing history itself..

A special feature of the second year is the Study Tour module which is a unique opportunity to visit the regions you are studying in the Easter vacation. With financial support from the University you plan a research project and travel with fellow students to a country relevant to your studies such as Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, France or Spain.

Reading texts in the original is a great advantage and you have the opportunity, if you wish, to learn one of the ancient languages – Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek or Latin. You can also choose from our unique range of options.

Year 3

By now you are ready to make your own choice. In your final year you choose a seminar and two options. Once again, you will have the opportunity to study an ancient language, either starting from scratch or taking your skills to a higher level. The highlight of the final year is your dissertation: working one-on-one with your supervisor you will complete a substantial research project on a subject of special interest to you.

Year Abroad 

Students who have achieved grades of 2.1 or above in their first year will have the opportunity to take a year abroad between their second and final year at one of a wide range of carefully selected partner institutions from around the world. In addition to the tutor support given from the host University, students who choose to take a Year Abroad will be allocated a member of staff from the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology who will monitor their progress while overseas through email and Skype contact.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).


To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.


[Video above - Dr Andrew Bayliss discusses careers and employability during the Ancient History open day presentation]

The skills of an ancient historian – research, analysis, organisation, self management and reasoning – are highly attractive to employers. Our graduates are also capable of working independently and as part of a team, and eloquently articulating judgments and arguments, which makes them highly sought-after employees.

Graduates in Ancient History go on to careers in a wide range of areas such as law, business, education and the media, with employers including central and local government, museums, cultural and heritage organisations, charities and a range of commercial companies. Specific jobs include PR and communications, human resources, legal work, library work, events planning and tourism.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to our graduates, including our ‘Careers in Heritage, Museums and History’ event.

We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, law marketing and working with charities. The newly developed optional professional skills module allows students in their second year to gain experience in a working environment which can lead to the development of further valuable skills. Placements are offered with the support of local employers, and we are developing links with heritage and cultural organisations to create more opportunities for students.

In addition, our students are encouraged to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Cultural Internships

Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.