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Durham University


Q820 Classical Civilisation 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 Q820
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


The BA in Classical Civilisation offers a broad and varied exploration of the society and culture of Greece and Rome, and their importance for us today, as well as an opportunity to focus on particular areas which might interest you. The course includes the option of beginning to learn Greek or Latin language (or continuing, if you have studied the languages already).

Year 1

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

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

You will also take one module that introduces you to ancient philosophy. 

In previous years, these modules have been offered:

  • Socrates and the Socratics
  • Early Greek Philosophy.

You will also take a module that introduces you to the cultural, anthropological and literary implications of translation:

  • Language, Translation and Interpretation.

Other first-year optional modules have previously included:

  • Beginners’ Latin and Greek
  • Intermediate Latin and Greek (if you have an A level or equivalent)
  • Lives of Objects
  • The Craft of the Ancient Historian.

Year 2

You will take a module in which you study representative examples of Greek and Roman epic; you will be introduced to a wide range of approaches to the study of epic including its role as a device for memorialisation and you will also explore the ways in which the genre developed in Greek and Roman antiquity, and beyond:

  • Traditions of Epic.

If you choose to study Latin or Greek you may continue these courses in your second year. It is also possible to begin the study of Latin or Greek in your second year.

Many of the other modules in the second year are broad surveys, for example of a historical period or a literary genre.

Historical offerings have previously included:

  • The Hellenistic World
  • Crisis of The Roman Republic
  • Emperors and Dynasties.

Literary, philosophical and cultural topics have previously included:

  • Greek Literature and The Near East
  • Interpreting Greek Tragedy Today
  • Creation and Cosmology
  • Ancient Political Thought and Action
  • Stoicism
  • Dialogues with Antiquity
  • Classical Receptions & Contemporary Cultures
  • Theatre and Spectacle in Ancient Rome
  • Myths of Transformation in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Year 3 (Year 4 if taking a Year Abroad)

You will write a Dissertation in your third year. You can choose a topic at the end of your second year in consultation with an adviser, with who you will meet regularly for guidance throughout Year 3. Most other modules in the third year cover specific topics that arise out of the research interests of our members of staff.

Historical modules have previously included:

  • Greeks and Persians
  • Roman Syria
  • Writing Alexander
  • The Life and Times of Cicero
  • Urbs Roma
  • The Later Roman Empire.

Literary, philosophical and cultural topics have previously included:

  • The Literature and Language of Ancient Babylon
  • Comedy and Tragedy, Laughter and Sorrow
  • Hellenistic Poetry: Theory and Practice
  • Roman Law and Latin Literature
  • Love and Sex in Ancient Poetry
  • Technologies of Knowledge in Antiquity
  • Knowledge and Doubt in Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Classical Victorians.

For this course, the study of ancient languages is not required, though it is permitted as an option.

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 2020.

Study Abroad

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). If you are interested in studying abroad you should apply to transfer to the European Studies course after your first year of study.

Placement Year

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

Course Learning and Teaching

The BA Classical Civilisation will give you an average of 8 hours of timetabled tuition every week. 

The aim of the course is to help you become an independent learner and researcher in the field of Classical Civilisation. In order to do this, it progresses from a greater number of contact hours, designed to promote and support your own study, to a greater intensity of contact in more specialised areas as you gain in independence and experience. 

The contact time is made up of weekly lectures, delivered by experts who are active in research in the relevant fields, supported by 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 you 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, 'Introduction to the Greek World' and 'Monuments and Memory', include seminars with a special emphasis on research skills. 

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

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

Every module coordinator is available for consultation about particular issues, and advertises office hours when their presence can be guaranteed. You will be allocated an academic mentor who you will discuss your module choices with, in the context of your interests and aims (academic and personal). Mentors are available for consultation throughout the year.

You are encouraged to attend the Department’s 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. 

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

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offerAAA.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD.

IB Diploma score37 with 666 in higher level subjects.

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 Tutor.
  • Classical subjects are not essential for any of our courses.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

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

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

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.