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Course content

This programme gives you the opportunity to study ancient history at an advanced level, developing your interest in the ancient world and providing an excellent preparation for further graduate research.

Edinburgh is one of the leading centres in the UK for the study of ancient history, in the chronological, geographical and methodological scope of the research interests of our staff. The range and content of our courses reflect staff research strengths in Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Late Antique topics. Greek and Latin language courses are always offered. Our particular strengths lie in the legal, institutional, social and economic history of the Greek and Roman worlds, as well as in political theory and practice, Hellenistic history, and late antique history.

As a student on this programme, you will develop your skills in critical thinking, clear writing and research, verbal presentation and critical analysis. You will be part of a Classics department ranked 5th in the UK, for the combined size and quality of research, in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

Programme structure

Most teaching takes place in small-group seminars and the programme is designed to allow both breadth of coverage and specialisation. The specialised compulsory course will provide you with the key methodological and practical skills required of researchers in all classical subjects, while the options offer a large degree of flexibility, allowing you to develop or consolidate your language skills and explore a diverse range of historical topics in depth. Independent research, in the form of a 15,000-word dissertation, forms a substantial component of the programme, challenging you to build on the material and approaches covered in the taught courses and develop your research skills.

The compulsory course is:

  • Skills and Methods in Classics

Option courses previously available include:

  • Agricultural Slavery in the Graeco-Roman World
  • Archaeology of the Roman Economy
  • A Period of Ancient History 1
  • A Period of Ancient History 2
  • Byzantium and its Neighbours in the Age of Constantine VII
  • Porphyrogennetos
  • Elementary Greek PG1
  • Elementary Greek PG2
  • Elementary Latin PG1
  • Elementary Latin PG2
  • Epicurus and Epicureanism
  • Intermediate Greek PG1
  • Intermediate Greek PG2
  • Intermediate Latin PG1
  • Intermediate Latin PG2
  • Late Antique Visual Culture
  • Martyrdom and Voluntary Death in the Ancient World
  • The Fall of Rome
  • The Hellenistic City;
  • Women in the Classical World

Learning outcomes

  • considerable familiarity with many aspects of ancient history and the principal challenges, approaches and issues involved in their study
  • specialist understanding of the intellectual background of ancient history as a distinct discipline
  • development of existing reading/writing skills, through critical assessment of written work
  • advanced appreciation of a wide range of methodologies involved in evaluating and employing sources of ancient historical evidence, through participation in core course and assessed work
  • the option to further develop language skills (normally Greek and Latin), which can be acquired by instruction and assessed exercises
  • specialist understanding of at least one significant field of research in associated cultural history, developed and assessed through a 15,000-word dissertation.

Career opportunities

This programme can form the stepping stone to many career options,such as further academic research, museum and art curation, literary translation or analysis, education or public heritage. Recent graduates in Classics are now putting their skills to use as tutors, archivists, writers and conference coordinators for a range of employers including the RSPB.


Visit the Ancient History - MSc page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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