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Q803 Classical Past BA Undergraduate 2012


UCAS code Q803
Degree BA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical offers A Level
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Related qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1670

Course Content


The core of the Classical Past is the cultural and intellectual history of Greece and Rome, with special emphasis on the theme of memory and the way in which the Greeks and the Romans regarded their own past. These modules include a wide range of offerings in ancient philosophy, ancient literature and drama in translation, and the art and architecture of Greece and Rome.

Level 1

In the first year, all students take two interdisciplinary modules that serve to give everyone a grounding in the central periods of Greek and Roman culture. They also introduce you to all of the lecturers in the Department and to their specialities:

  • Remembering Athens
  • Monuments and Memory in the Age of Augustus.

Other first year modules include: Beginners' Latin and Greek, Intermediate Latin and Greek for those with an A-level or equivalent, Greek Art and Architecture, Early Greek Philosophy, the Craft of the Ancient Historian, and Living in the Classical World.

Level 2

Many of the modules in the second year are broad surveys, for example of a historical period or a literary genre. Historical offerings currently include: Archaic Greece, Athens, Sparta and the Greek World, History of The Hellenistic Age, Crisis of The Roman Republic, and Emperors and Dynasties. Cultural surveys include: The Ancient Novel, Traditions of Epic, Greek Literature and The Near East, Interpreting Greek Tragedy Today, Creation and Cosmology, Being Human: Classical Perspectives, and the Literary and Political Culture of The Roman Republic. Students of Latin and Greek may carry on to a higher level in year two, where the level depends on whether they took Beginners' language in year one or came in with an A-level.

Level 3

All students write a dissertation in the third year. You choose a topic at the end of your second year in consultation with an adviser, with whom you will meet regularly for guidance throughout year three. Students of Latin and Greek will proceed to the next level, with the texts becoming more difficult or fragmentary. Most other modules in the third year cover specific topics that arise out of the research interests of the members of staff. Historical modules might include: Law and Society in Classical Athens, Roman Syria, the World of Greek Rituals and Greeks and Persians. Cultural topics include the Gods in Greek Literature, Ancient Literary Criticism, Love and Sex in Ancient Poetry, and Knowledge and Doubt in Hellenistic Philosophy.

Teaching and assessment details

The mode of teaching varies according to the type of module. Language classes generally involve preparing a text in order to translate and discuss it as a group. The teaching for many other modules is divided into lectures in which the teacher speaks to the class and smaller-group seminars in which students lead the discussion or get feedback on written work. As you progress in your studies, you will increasingly be called upon to present material to the entire class yourself, either in groups or individually.

Our modules employ a wide range of assessment methods. Some, such as language modules, are assessed entirely by end-of-year exams. Many others combine a coursework component with an exam while some are assessed entirely by coursework. You will know the mode of assessment before you choose your modules and you will have opportunities to submit practice coursework on which you will get detailed feedback before submitting coursework that will count towards your mark.

Study Abroad

Single Honours courses include an optional European Studies element as part of the ERASMUS scheme, whereby students may spend the third year of a four year course studying at a European university. We currently have ERASMUS exchange links with universities in Belgium (Liege), France (Bordeaux), Germany (Tubingen, Munich), Italy (Bologna, Vercelli), the Netherlands (Free University, Amsterdam, Groningen), Spain (Seville) and Switzerland (Fribourg), with further to come.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.

Classical subjects are not essential for any of our courses, but for the Classics (Q801), we look for evidence of linguistic ability.

We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

English Language requirements

IELTS 6.5 (no component under 6.0); TOEFL iBT 92 (no component under 23); Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Grade C; or Cambridge Advanced (CAE) Grade A

Requirements and Admissions

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of Classics and Ancient History

Classics students from universities such as Durham are highly valued by employers, who realise that, in studying for your degree, you have not only mastered the intricacies of Latin grammar, Augustan foreign policy or Aristotelian metaphysics, but have also acquired skills which are readily transferable in the jobs market. You have learned, for example, to think logically, to compile and evaluate evidence and to express yourself clearly and succinctly both orally and in writing. The aptitude of classicists for careers in computing is well-known, but our graduates have also found their way into careers as diverse as the civil service, gold dealing, insurance, journalism, law, accountancy, public relations and the wine trade. Some examples are highlighted on this page.

The world class teaching and reputation of Durham meant I was able to start my career in a national museum within three months of leaving my course and before graduation.
Edward Purvis, BA (Hons) Ancient History (2006)

Of those students that left in 2012:

- 39.6% are in full time paid employment

Of those students in employment:

- 63% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £18,000

Of those in further study:

- 91% are in graduate level study

A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree in Classics and Ancient History. Some remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a Masters, notably at Durham but also other prestigious institutions. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, finance and teaching to name but a few.

Employment development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works with closely the department in facilitating student access to job and work experience opportunities, careers and employability events, employer workshops and presentations, skills programmes and tailored individual careers guidance. The department delivers a number of events in partnership with the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre including 'Beyond the BA' and 'Beyond the MA'.   

Durham University Classics and Ancient History graduates progress into a diverse range of careers and employment sectors. Some graduates utilise their degree in areas relevant to their academic study such as heritage, arts, teaching, publishing and journalism. A significant number progress into unrelated areas including banking, law, PR, third sector, consultancy, insurance and administration. Examples of high profile recent employers include Deloitte, Lloyds, Durham University and PWC.  

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the very best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments and opportunities to explore college options they will provide a full experience of Durham University for any prospective undergraduates.

Pre-application open days in Durham City will take place on:

  • Monday 25 June 2012
  • Saturday 30 June 2012
  • Saturday 22 September 2012

Further details, and information on how to book.  

Campus tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Department of Classics and Ancient History


Study the Greek and Roman world at one of the largest and most vibrant Classics departments in the UK.

The Department of Classics and Ancient History is one of the most vibrant Classics departments in the UK. Our academic staff work truly interdisciplinary, and specialise in a wide range of artistic, historical, literary, linguistic, cultural and philosophical aspects of the Graeco-Roman world. In the latest Research Assessment Exercise (2008) we were ranked tied third in the country for internationally excellent research. We are consistently ranked amongst the top Classics departments in the UK: 3rd in The Times Good University Guide 2011 and 4th in The Independent's Complete University Guide 2011. Overall student satisfaction with our degree programmes, as measured by the annual NSS Survey, was up again in 2010 at 93%, putting us 6th equal in the UK. To our students we offer a wide variety of modules: ancient Greek and Latin for every level of ability, surveys of the main periods and themes of Greek and Roman history, and teaching in all aspects of Classical culture, including philosophy, art, and literature in translation. We are fortunate in attracting a very high calibre of applicants, and our graduates are in great demand for their analytical skills.

RAE results


There is a well-stocked departmental library with a reading room and study space, plus a computer room specially for the use of students taking our courses. In addition, extra-curricular activities are provided by the lively and friendly Students' Classical Society, which often puts on a Greek or Roman play in English translation.


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