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Durham University


V101 Ancient, Medieval and Modern History BA Undergraduate  2021


Please note: 2020-21 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Summaries of course-specific changes resulting from the impact of Covid-19 will be provided to applicants during August 2020.

For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see

UCAS code V101
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


Year 1

In the first year, you will take three modules from History and three from Classics. You must choose at least one History module which is either Medieval or Early Modern; and one which is Modern. The modules on offer reflect the research interests of staff. 

History modules have previously included:

  • Reformation Europe
  • Tensions of Empire
  • The Birth of Western Society, 300-1050
  • New Heaven, New Earth: Latin Christendom and the World, 1000-1300.

In Ancient History, you will take two interdisciplinary modules that serve to give you a grounding in the central periods of Greek and Roman culture.

Modules have previously included:

  • Introduction to the Greek World
  • Monuments and Memory in the Age of Augustus.

The third module is a matter of choice. Modules have previously included:

  • Lives of Objects
  • Early Greek Philosophy
  • The Craft of the Ancient Historian.

Year 2

In the second year, you will take three modules from History and three from Classics. Second-year History modules tend to focus more on particular periods and events, and there are fewer survey courses. One of the History modules taken must be ‘Conversations with History’. This is a seminar-driven, student-led module, which encourages you to think about the way in which history is written. You will choose one from a range of possible strands in this module, each of which focuses on a particular historical debate or phenomenon. You must choose one History module which is either Medieval or Early Modern; and one which is Modern (the Conversations strand will count as one of these choices). There is no other restriction on choice.

Modules have previously included:

  • Conversations Strands: the Usable Past; the Built Environment
  • History and Guilt
  • Power and Peoples
  • Inventing the Middle Ages
  • Monarchy
  • Empire, Liberty and Governance.

Other modules have previously included:

  • Hard Times: British Society c. 1800-1901
  • Modern China’s Transformations
  • The American Half-century: the United States since 1945
  • The King’s Two Bodies: Rulership in Late Medieval Europe
  • The Ottoman World, 1400-1700.

In Ancient History, second-year historical offerings have previously included:

  • The Hellenistic World
  • Crisis of The Roman Republic
  • Emperors and Dynasties
  • Roman Buildings and their Decoration
  • Ancient Political Thought and Action.

Year 3

In the third year you may take the equivalent of three modules in each department, or you may take the equivalent of four modules in one and two in the other.

In History, you may choose a triple-module Special Subject, taught entirely through seminars, which involves the close study of primary sources. You will work in a small group with a specialist in the field, with a three-hour seminar every week. Or you may choose to do supervised independent research leading to the writing of an extended Dissertation. Given this emphasis on focused study and independence, there is no requirement for you to study a range of periods in this year.

Third-year single modules are all strongly reflexive in character, encouraging you to think about the ways in which historical knowledge is produced. Third-year History modules are all specialised, research-led topics.

Modules in History have previously included:

Special subjects:

  • A World Turned Upside Down: Radicalism in the English Revolution
  • The Disappearance of Claudine Rouge: Murder, Mystery and Microhistory in Early Modern France
  • Light Beyond the Limes: the Christianization of Pagan Europe, 300-1000
  • From War to Cold War: US Foreign Policy, c. 1944-1948.

Single modules:

  • Anglo-Saxon Invasion? The Search for English
  • Origins Revolution and History
  • Interpreting Conflict in Post-Colonial Africa
  • History of American Capitalism.

In Ancient History, modules have previously included:

  • Roman Syria
  • The Later Roman Empire
  • Greeks and Persians
  • Urbs Roma
  • Writing Alexander.

We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2021 entry from September 2021.

Study Abroad


The Department participates in the University-wide overseas exchanges with:

  • Boston College (USA),
  • the University of British Columbia (Canada),
  • the University of Hong Kong (China) 
  • the National University of Singapore (Singapore).

You can apply to spend an additional year of study abroad. This is normally taken between the second and third years of the degree. 

Classics and Ancient History

This course includes an optional European Studies element as part of the ERASMUS scheme, where you 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), Spain (Seville) and Switzerland (Fribourg). Students interested in studying abroad should apply to transfer to the European Studies course after their first year of study.

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

If you study the Ancient, Medieval and Modern History BA, you will follow a structured programme of study comprised of modules delivered by the Department of History and the Department of Classics and Ancient History. You will receive, on average, 7 hours of formal contact per week. However, the exact number of contact hours will depend on your selection of modules as you will be given the option to specialise in ancient, medieval, or modern history as you progress.

Formal academic contact will include a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Lectures introduce broad historical questions and offer contextualisation and critical commentary; seminars provide an opportunity for you to develop your critical skills through discussion for which you would have prepared in advance. The balance between these activities will change as you develop your knowledge and abilities as an independent learner.

Timetabled contact is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting point for your development as an independent, self-motivated learner. Resource packages and reading lists will be provided to guide your independent learning.

Typically, during your first year, you can expect to receive around 8 hours of formal contact per week. You will study modules that introduce you to a range of perspectives (not just historical) and different forms of evidence, and prepare you for a wide range of more specifically historical modules about politics and society, as well as the study of ancient literature, language, and philosophy, in your second and third years. The modules offer engagement with different periods and approaches to the study of the past, and experience of the way in which History, as a community of practice, encompasses the diversity of the human experience. Two core modules, 'Introduction to the Greek World' and 'Monuments and Memory', include seminars with a special emphasis on research skills.

In your second year there is an increased emphasis on the development of critical and analytical skills. As you become more adept at independent research, the intensity of contact in more specialised areas will increase. You can expect to receive around 7 hours of formal contact per week.

In the third year you will take further responsibility for managing your own time. The curriculum, while continuing to offer support and guidance, will require you to use the skills in independent study and time management which you have developed in the two preceding years. The dissertation, in particular, gives you the opportunity to establish your own research agenda and identify primary historical sources and extended reading lists, and so to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline. The exact number of contact hours that you receive will depend upon your module choices and specialisms. You will be expected to spend at least 35 hours each week in independent research. Because of this, you can expect to receive, on average, around 5 hours of formal contact per week.

Throughout the course you will also benefit from the ready accessibility of staff. All module coordinators advertise their formal ‘office hours’ so that you can arrange one-to-one meetings to discuss particular issues. This un-timetabled contact often focuses on a specific issue of analysis or argument and gives students a strong sense of personal engagement with learning. In addition to this, 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 be encouraged to attend the extensive programme of research-related activities in both departments, including the research seminar series, public lectures from high-profile guest speakers, and events organised by the student-run History Society and Classics Societies. In addition to this, you will be invited to attend regular events organised jointly by the department and the Careers, Employability, and Enterprise Centre.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offerA*AA including History.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaD*DD and grade A History A level.

IB Diploma score38 with 666 in higher level subjects, including History, Ancient History is only acceptable in conjunction with History.

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. Please contact our Admissions Tutor.
  • Classical subjects are not essential for any of our courses.
  • Ancient History is acceptable as one of three A levels but History A level must also be taken.
  • We welcome enquiries regarding applications for deferred entry which may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact us using

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.


English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £22,100.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £22,100.00 per year

The tuition fees shown for home and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities


We offer our students exceptional opportunities that will help you become critically and socially engaged graduates of the highest calibre.

As a department we help you reflect academically on your progress as you develop into a mature historian, and develop the many advanced skills you will acquire alongside your degree. These skills can be harnessed for your career, allowing you to articulate your degree-specific skills in an outward-facing manner.

This strategy is at the very centre of our planning, which we have woven into our learning, teaching and planning. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that our graduates have gone on to find successful careers in a wide variety of fields, from the civil service, law, banking and business, to teaching, media, journalism, the military and further study.


When applying for roles many employers will ask you to supply academic references from one of your tutors. We always advise that you should approach tutors who know you and your work well, such as a special subject or dissertation tutor.

To help guide you with this process we arrange for advisors from the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre provide short presentations to each year group as part of joined up sessions with an Academic Careers Contact and the Head of Undergraduate Studies:

  • Year 1 covers an introduction to developing employability skills.
  • Year 2 focus on internships /work experience.
  • Year 3 focus on graduate schemes /recruitment cycle/ effective on-line applications

Classics and Ancient History

Classics and Ancient History 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, was MP for Cardiff Central between 2005 and 2015. (She made headlines when she resigned as Chris Huhne’s Parliamentary Aide over the issue of Unviersity tuition fees.)

Of those students that left in 2017:

- 86% are in paid employment or further study

Of those students in employment:

- 76% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £24,000

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 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

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 and Enterprise Centre works closely with 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 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:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information



We have one of the most highly regarded history departments in the UK and our students love being here. This reputation is the product of the quality and commitment of our staff, and the breadth of our teaching, which reflects the research interests of a Department with an international outlook.

We offer modules covering periods from the Middle Ages to the present and many different parts of the world: Chinese, Japanese, African and US history are all taught at Durham University, alongside British and other European history.  Our degree courses reflect the rich variety of modern historical writing, including cultural, media and gender history as well as political, religious, social and economic history. We are proud to attract so many bright and articulate students; our students achieve excellent results, and proceed to successful careers in both the private and public sectors.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2020.
  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.


For a current list of staff, please see the History Department web pages.


Located in the historic heart of Durham City, the Department is close to the World Heritage Site of the Cathedral and Castle. We have excellent libraries, containing archives and book collections of international significance and providing access to a huge range of teaching and online resources, which make us a perfect choice for undergraduate study. Teaching takes place in lecture halls in various areas of the University site, and for smaller groups in staff offices and seminar rooms, many fitted with state-of-the-art IT equipment and mostly located in the Department premises at 43 North Bailey.


Classics and Ancient History


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 among 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.


  • World Top 12 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020.
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.
  • 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2020.


For a current list of staff, please see the Classics and Ancient History Department web pages.


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.