BA Ancient and Medieval History

To understand fully the modern world - its culture, language, political systems and people – you need to take a long perspective.

Studying Ancient and Medieval History goes back to the roots of modern civilisation in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages. One aspect of study is social history: how people in the past lived, worked, traded and enjoyed their leisure. 

Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History 1st in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. We are also ranked in the Top 100 for History in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2019. The subject offers the opportunity to study many different forms of history. The chronological sweep is wide, from around 3000BC to 1500AD and you can study Europe, the Mediterranean and Asian civilisations. Studying such a diverse range of societies and cultures enables you to analyse and reflect on the complex relationship between the Ancient and Medieval worlds.

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“I would definitely recommend studying at Birmingham for a number of reasons. Principally, the quality of teaching is excellent, you’re well looked after as a student and have opportunities to really find your own way of learning that suits you best.”

The Ancient and Medieval History degree is taught in the School of History and Cultures which means that you can draw on a vast range of expertise in Ancient History and Archaeology, Medieval History, Classics and Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.

We have a distinctive emphasis on using literature, history and archaeology in the study of the ancient world, and we offer a range of expertise. This ensures a wide choice of times, countries and cultures may be studied.

The first year represents a foundation year in which we instill core skills and knowledge for historical enquiry.  In the second year, the emphasis on small group teaching and independent learning increases and you develop as a historian of the ancient and medieval worlds.  In the final year you study medieval and ancient modules, along with a 12,000 word Dissertation, using primary sources to answer a historical question which you have developed since your second year. 

Why study this course

  • Excellent reputation - History is ranked within the Top 10 in both the Complete University Guide 2019 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. The Department is also ranked in the Top 100 for History in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2019. 
  • Outstanding student experience - Our students gave the course an overall satisfaction rating of 100% in the National Student Survey 2018.
  • Strong employability - 90% of our graduates enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017) in a wide range of professions, including accountancy, charity work, housing, law, publishing, politics and teaching.
  • Broad portfolio - We are very conscious that a true appreciation of the ancient and medieval world requires as varied an approach as possible. At the beginning you will study broad time periods and issues but you will get to focus on particular topics of your choosing all the way through. If you are interested in History in its broadest sense then this is the programme for you. 
  • Resources - We have excellent library facilities with the University Library situated by the History Department and we have the Hilton and Styles libraries in the Arts Building. The Cadbury Research Library is home to the University of Birmingham’s historic collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, photographs and associated artefacts. The collections which have been built up over a period of 120 years consist of over 200,000 rare printed books including significant incunabula, as well as over 4 million unique archive and manuscript collections.


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 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


First year

The first year represents a foundation year in which core skills and knowledge for historical enquiry are gained. While those two things can never be separated, the emphasis is on skills in the modules Practising History A and B (10 + 10 credits) and the Ancient History Project A and B (10 + 10 credits). Each of these four modules centres on a different topic, and helps develop your skills for university-level history. Broader survey modules help you to familiarise yourself with ancient and medieval history. Discovering the Middle Ages and Living in the Middle Ages (20 + 20 credits) explore fundamental themes and issues focused on the key periods concerned and indicate the kinds of questions historians explore and some of the methods they employ in answering them. Introduction to Greek and Roman History (20 credits) alongside the Ancient History/Classics/Archaeology option module (10 + 10 credits) (for example Early Civilisations: Egypt and Ancient Western Asia or Byzantium/Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World), do the same. As you would expect, the first year serves as a springboard for your studies in second year.

Compulsory modules:

  • Practising History A: Skills in History
  • Practising History B: Approaches to History
  • Ancient History Project A
  • Ancient History Project B
  • Discovering the Middle Ages
  • Living in the Middle Ages
  • Introduction to Greek and Roman History

Optional modules:

  • Ancient History/Classics/Archaeology option

Second year

In the second year the emphasis on small group teaching and independent learning increases.  Two compulsory modules help to develop you as a historian of the ancient and medieval worlds. Ancient and Medieval History in Theory and Practice (20 credits) addresses questions to do with the nature of history and historical knowledge, particularly as they relate to the ancient and medieval worlds.  Research Methods (20 credits) gives you first-hand experience of the work of a historian as you learn to identify and frame a valid, intellectually coherent research question. 

You also take two medieval history options (Options A and B) (20 + 20 credits). You then choose 40 credits of  Ancient History modules (either a seminar and an option or two options) from the wide range on offer for year 2 students or one Ancient History option (20 credits) and a Professional Skills module (20 credits). 

Compulsory modules:

  • Ancient and Medieval History in Theory and Practice
  • Research Methods
  • Medieval Option A
  • Medieval Option B

Optional modules:

Choose one of the following:

  • Two Ancient History Options (or a seminar and an Option)
  • Ancient History Option and a Professional Skills Module

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

In the final year, you write your 12,000 word dissertation (40 credits), an individual research project using primary sources to answer a historical question which you have developed since year 2 and which is supervised by an appropriate specialist.  For medieval history, you get to choose a medieval history Special Subject (20 + 20 credits). For ancient history, as in the second year, you choose either a seminar and an option or two options (40 credits) from the wide range on offer in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology.

Compulsory modules:

  • Dissertation
  • Special Subject A and B

Optional modules:

  • Ancient History modules

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, 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 2019/20 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £17,640

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:
Not accepted.

Additional information:

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

BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DDD.
  • BTEC Diploma: DD, plus B at A-level.
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus AB at A-level.

Access programmes:  Pass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits overall to include 45 at Level 3 of which 30 must be at Distinction and 15 at Merit.  All remaining credits must be at level 2 or above.

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

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

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.
  • Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers 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 about 8 hours of contact time per week. You can expect about 7 hours of contact time per week in your second year and about 6.5 hours of contact time per week in your final year. 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.


90% of our graduates enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017).

As an Ancient and Medieval History student, you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are attractive to employers, including:

  • Strong communication skills
  • A deep understanding of the past
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Handling complex information
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload

These are key skills that will enable you to pursue either further study in History disciplines or move into employment in a wide range of other careers. Our graduates have gone on to careers in: 

  • Accountancy
  • Charity work
  • Housing
  • Human Resources
  • International Development
  • Law
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Politics
  • Retail Management
  • Teaching
  • Library and Archive work
  • Postgraduate study

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.