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 from the Ancient Near East and Ancient Egypt, to Classical Greece, Republican and Imperial Rome, and Late Antiquity.

Studying Ancient History at the University of Birmingham will offer you the opportunity to study a diverse range of periods, countries and cultures to suit your interests. Your will explore ancient cultures in a supportive academic environment where you will have access to an exceptional range of expertise and resources. In your second year, our unique Study Tour module provides you with the opportunity to travel to another country relevant to your studies. There is also a chance to learn many ancient languages, such as Latin, Greek, Middle Egyptian and when available, Sumerian and Akkadian.

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“The best thing about my course is the breadth of modules available. You get to study so much more than the traditional Greece and Rome that most unis offer. You can study a variety of cultures and you have the option to go to Greece or Rome as part of the course. ”

Ancient History at the University of Birmingham draws together the four main subject areas: Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East. Many of our students will have little experience of exploring Ancient History at school or college, so 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 that have survived to the modern day, and the monuments and objects of those civilisations. No previous knowledge of the ancient languages is required and all texts are read in translation, except in specialist language modules.

In your second year, with financial support from the University, you will have the opportunity to undertake a unique two-week Study Tour where you will develop a research project and travel with fellow students to countries such as Italy and Greece. Get an insight into the Study Tour module by reading the blog created by several students who travelled to Italy for two weeks in April this year. 

Why study this course

  • Breadth of expertise - while many Ancient History programmes focus on Greece and Rome, at Birmingham you will have the opportunity to study Egypt and the Near East in equal measure 
  • Excellent student experience – our students gave our Ancient History degree an overall satisfaction rating of 91% in the National Student Survey 2016
  • Study tour – Our unique two-week Study Tour gives you the opportunity to plan and undertake travel to countries such as Italy and Greece to visit sites, monuments and museums of interest to you. Take a look at our student-led Study Tour blog
  • Exceptional learning resources – You will have access to a range of learning resources including the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Museum and the Eton Myers Collection at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts
  • Highly rated department – Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the Top 5 Russell Group departments of Classics in the Research Excellence Framework 2014


Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2017. We aim to publish any changes to compulsory modules and programme structure for 2018 entry by 1 September 2017 and recommend you refer back to this page shortly after that date for any changes. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

First year

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

Compulsory modules:

  • Ancient Civilisations: Egypt and Western Asia (20 credits)
  • Greek and Roman History (20)
  • First Year Project (10 + 10)
  • Widening Horizons module (20)

Example optional modules: 

  • Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World (10)
  • Byzantium and the Transformation of the Roman World (20)
  • Greek and Roman Art and Architecture (20)
  • Greek and Roman Literature (20)
  • Greek Art and Archaeology (10)
  • Introduction to Greek Language (20 + 20)
  • Introduction to Greek Literature (10)
  • Introduction to Latin Language (20 + 20)
  • Intermediate Greek Language (20 + 20)
  • Intermediate Latin Language (20 + 20)
  • Roman Art and Archaeology (10)

Ancient History (V110): selected module descriptions year 1

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 or somewhere else in Europe or North Africa.

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

Compulsory modules:

  • CAHA Study Tour (20)
  • Seminar II (choice of seminar topics) (20)
  • Understanding Ancient Societies (20)

Example optional modules: 

  • Artefacts and Material Culture (20)
  • Catastrophe! Humans and Environments (20)
  • Cities and Monuments of the Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean (20)
  • Classical Epic (20)
  • From Mummification to Burial (20)
  • Greece and Rome in Television and Film (20)
  • Imperial Egypt (20)
  • Imperial Rome (20)
  • Mediterranean and European Archaeology (20)
  • Pompeii and Campania (20)
  • Roman Women (20)
  • Thinking Athenian (20)
  • Egyptian Language (20 + 20)
  • Introduction to Greek Language (20 +20)
  • Introduction to Latin Language (20 + 20)
  • Intermediate Greek Language (20 + 20)
  • Intermediate Latin Language (20 + 20)
  • Greek Prose Texts (20)
  • Latin Prose Texts (20)
  • Professional Skills Development (20)
  • Republican Rome: From the Gracchi to Caesar (20)
  • Roman Britain and Roman Army (20)
  • Women, Men and Eunuchs: Gender in Byzantium (20 + 20)
  • Nationalism and Conflict in the Balkans and Middle East

Year abroad

You can apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world. If you achieve a grade of 2.1 or above in your first year then you will be invited to apply for a Year Abroad in your second year. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year. Find out more.

Final year

By now you are ready to make your own choices. In your final year, you choose a seminar and three 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.

Compulsory modules:

  • CAHA Dissertation (40)
  • Seminar III (choice of seminar topics) (20)

Example optional modules:

  • Age of Empires (20)
  • Court Ritual (20)
  • Death, Burial and Society (20)
  • Egyptian Mysteries (20)
  • Egypt in the First Millennium (20)
  • Greek and Roman Wall Painting  (20)
  • Greek Mythology (20)
  • History and Archaeology of Western Asia (20)
  • Late Antiquity (20)
  • Palace Societies (20)
  • Smash the Past: Breakage, Violence and Transformation (20)
  • Sparta (20)
  • The Age of Nero (20)
  • Language at appropriate level (Latin, Greek, Egyptian) (20). Can be continued in Semester II for a further 20 credits

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £15,570

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis - contact us for further guidance.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

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.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Contact hours

In your first year, you can expect to have 9-12 contact hours, depending on your module choices. These will consist of a mixture of lectures and small-group teaching. You will also undergo a formal transition review to see how you are getting on. 

In your second year, you can expect to have 8-12 contact hours, depending on your module choices. These will consist of a mixture of lectures, small-group teaching, and supervision.

In your third year, you can expect to have 8.5-9.5 contact hours, depending on your module choices. As before, these will consist of a mixture of lectures, small-group teaching, and supervision. There are also many additional activities that are available to students. 

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Our unique degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development – a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today’s competitive graduate market.

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

Graduates in Ancient History have excellent employment prospects with 85% of graduates entering work and/or study six months after graduation (DLHE 2015).       

You will be in high demand and well placed to forge a rewarding career in a variety of areas, including:

  • Law
  • Education
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Local government
  • Museums and charities
  • Cultural and heritage organisations

Therefore, studying Ancient History at the University of Birmingham opens doors to a wide range of careers. Some graduates will go onto undertake further study and research in pursuit of higher degrees. 

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • 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 will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - 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 our 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.
  • Personal Skills Award - 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.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.


Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.