Guide to Studying Classics & Ancient History

By Dr Roth, Head of Classics & Senior Lecturer in Ancient History, the University of Edinburgh.

Athenian treasury
Athenian treasury, Delphi, Greece ©
Lefteris Papaulakis - Fotolia
Study the history of the Athenian
with Classics or Ancient History

What is Classics and Ancient History?

  • A degree in Classics will introduce you to the history, culture, languages and literatures of some of the most important civilisations in world history.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome have had a profound influence on the cultures that inhabited the Mediterranean basin next to and after them.
  • The study of classical antiquity will therefore give you a better understanding of our own identities within the global community and of how the world has become what it is today.
  • A degree in Classics or Ancient History enables you to study a broad range of subjects, including the drama of Euripides, the poetry of Homer or Virgil, the history of the Athenian, Roman and Persian empires, or the art and archaeology of the Roman Empire.
  • The study of Greek or Latin can form an important component of a degree in Classics, but it is also possible to study a range of subjects within Classics, including Ancient History, without studying a language at all.

Specific or general skills developed

  • Graduates in Classics and Ancient History have not only gained a more nuanced view of the world, but they are also equipped with the transferable skills to pursue a broad range of career paths.
  • Transferable skills include the ability to analyse and solve problems, to interpret information critically, and to present clear and persuasive arguments: these are central to a great many professions.

Assessments and Exams

  • You’ll learn through lectures, tutorials and independent study.
  • Assessment is likely to include written exams and coursework, but may also involve group work, oral presentations, performances or special projects.

What degree can I get? 

  • You will typically be able to study Classics or Ancient History as stand-alone degree programmes.
  • Some universities will also offer specialised programmes in the study of Greek or Latin, or a Classical Studies degree that allows you to combine various aspects of the study of the ancient world.
  • Alternatively, you may choose to undertake a joint degree in Classics and another subject, including History, Philosophy, English Language or Linguistics, or a modern language such as Italian or French. Most universities offer BA (Hons) or MA (Hons) qualifications.

What qualifications do I need?

  • Entry requirements will vary depending on the universities you apply to and the programme you want to study.
  • Where no specific subjects are specified for entry, you may find useful previous study in any Classics subject, or History, another essay-based subject, or a modern language.

Use our Course Chooser to search through Classics & Ancient History courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  • There is a range of postgraduate opportunities in the UK and beyond.
  • You may take either a taught or research masters in Classics or Ancient History, or you’ll be able to choose a postgraduate degree in a more specialised area, e.g. in Classical Art and Archaeology, or in Classical Reception Studies.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to pursue further specialised study at PhD level.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • Many classicists become teachers, museum curators, heritage professionals, archivists, or librarians.
  • Others seek a career in the legal profession, in communications and marketing, the civil service, the charitable sector, journalism or publishing, or with NGOs.