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Q803 Classical Past BA Undergraduate 2015


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

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

Course Content


Year 1

In the first year, all students take two interdisciplinary modules that serve to give everyone grounding in the central periods of Greek and Roman culture:

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

Other first-year optional 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
  • Living in the Classical World

Year 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
  • 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
  • The Literary and Political Culture of The Roman Republic

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a Year Abroad)

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. Most 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
  • Writing Alexander
  • 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
  • Knowledge and Doubt in Hellenistic Philosophy.

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), Greece (Athens), Italy (Bologna, Rome, Milan, Vercelli), the Netherlands (Free University, Amsterdam, Groningen), Spain (Seville) and Switzerland (Fribourg), with further to come. Students interested in studying abroad should apply to transfer to the European Studies course after their first year of study.

Learning and Teaching

The Classical Past will give you an average of 8 hours of timetabled tuition every week over the course of the programme (which is at the upper end of the standard defined by CUCD, the national subject body for Classics).

The aim of the programme is to make help you become an independent learner and researcher in the field of Classical Studies. In order to do this, it progresses from a greater number of contact hours, designed to promote and support your own study (in your first and second years, you can expect to receive 9 hours of contact with lecturers each week), to a greater intensity of contact in more specialised areas as you gain in independence and experience. (In your final year, you can expect 7 hours of contact in smaller groups and one-to-one supervision.)

The contact time is made up of weekly lectures, delivered by experts who are active in research in the relevant fields, supported by at least six smaller-group seminars or tutorials per module, designed to give you the opportunity to explore the material covered in lectures in more depth, and to receive detailed feedback on formative assignments.

First-year modules focus on ensuring that your have a bedrock of knowledge and skills across a number of sub-disciplines which you share with all other students in the Department. Two core modules,Remembering Athens and Monuments and Memory, include seminars with a special emphasis on research skills. Other optional modules start to introduce more specialised foundations in the study of ancient literature, history, language, and philosophy.

In the second and third years topics are increasingly offered from current research interests of lecturers; lecture and seminar / tutorial sizes become progressively smaller; more scope for interaction with staff is built in.

The final-year dissertation gives you your richest opportunity to exercise your skills in independent learning and research. You receive two hours of collective and individual support in choosing a topic at the end of your second year; and three hours of one-to-one supervisory support with an expert in the field through the writing of the dissertation in your final year.

Every module coordinator is available for consultation by students about particular issues, and advertises office hours when their presence can be guaranteed. You will be allocated an academic adviser, with whom you will discuss your module choices within the context of your interests and aims (academic and personal). You will meet with your adviser at least three times a year; but the adviser is available for consultation throughout the year.

You are encouraged to attend the Department’s two research seminar series, which are scheduled at times when you would be available to attend. In addition, the student-run Classics Society regularly organises guest speakers – often attracting very high-profile scholars from outside Durham.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to attend events and workshops focussed on your future career, organised in collaboration with alumni of the Department and the Careers, Employability, and Enterprise Centre.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • 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. For more information contact our Admissions Selectors
  • Classical subjects are not essential for any of our courses
  • We will be reviewing our entry requirements for 2015 entry in the summer of 2014 and will publish finalised entry requirements for 2015 entry on the University’s website and at UCAS before 1 September 2014
  • We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

English Language requirements

IELTS of 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

The University accepts the following alternative English language tests and scores.

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

EU student fees


Home student fees


Islands student fees


International non-EU student fees


Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

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 theatre.

Among our many distinguished alumni: Robert Swan was the first man to walk to both poles, and a leading environmentalist. He studied Ancient History in Durham, from 1976-1979. Jenny Willott, who studied Classics at Durham, has been MP for Cardiff Central since 2005. (She made headlines when she resigned as Chris Huhne’s Parliamentary Aide over the issue of Unviersity tuition fees.) And Matt Barber, who read Classical Studies and Philosophy at Durham between 2002-2005, can be seen as Atticus Aldridge on 'Downton Abbey'.

�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 2013:

- 37% are in full time paid employment

Of those students in employment:

- 63% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £19,500

Of those in further study:

- 95% are in graduate level study

(These statistics are based on the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2012/13 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found here:

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'.   

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the 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, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Campus tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Classics and Ancient History


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

Our academic staff work in a truly interdisciplinary way, and specialise in a wide range of artistic, historical, literary, linguistic, cultural and philosophical aspects of the Graeco-Roman world. We are consistently ranked amongst the top Classics departments in the UK. 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 have three Single Honours courses, with a common first year intended to emphasise the unity of the subject. Each of these degrees has a different emphasis, depending on which area you prefer to put at the centre of your degree: ancient languages, ancient history, or ancient culture.


There is a well-stocked departmental library with a reading room and study space, plus a computer room. In addition, extracurricular activities are provided by the lively and friendly Students’ Classical Society, which often puts on a Greek or Roman play in English translation.


NB: Information contained on the website or in the literature with respect to the fee is correct at the time of publication but the University reserves the right to change the course information or fee at a later date.

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