What is Classical Archaeology and Ancient History (CAAH)?
The course combines study of the history, archaeology and art of the classical world. It looks at the societies and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world through their written texts, visual art and material remains, and has at its centre the two classical cultures of Greece and Rome. It is aimed at anyone interested in investigating ancient civilisations and their remains, from Greek temples and Roman amphitheatres to wall paintings and the poignant residues of everyday life. While it is primarily a historical and non-linguistic degree, ancient languages can be used and learned as part of the course.
CAAH at Oxford
The degree is taught through a mixture of tutorials, lectures and classes. Some cover specifically archaeological or historical approaches to ancient Mediterranean cultures, but the degree is unique in also offering courses that combine both approaches. In every year of the course there are classes led by both an archaeologist and a historian, which are designed to give an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the topics studied.
The University’s resources for this combined subject are excellent, in terms of both library facilities, especially the Sackler Library, and the range and number of postholders in the two fields. The Ashmolean Museum also contains wide-ranging collections of art and artefacts from classical cultures.
Some CAAH graduates go on to further study and research to become professional archaeologists and historians. Others move into different areas, including museum curation, heritage management, education, finance, advertising, publishing, the Civil Service and law. Recent CAAH graduates include a financial adviser, a teacher and a curator. Sarah, who graduated in 2007, is now a personal adviser. She says: ‘My degree at Oxford provided the challenging environment in which I developed the skills I later needed to successfully complete Reed’s rigorous application procedure.’
Fieldwork and international opportunities
There are two practical elements – two weeks at the end of the first year spent on an archaeological field project, and the preparation of a report in the second and third years focusing either on a particular ancient site or on an artefact or set of artefacts in a museum of your choice.
A typical weekly timetable
- lectures (4-6 per week)
- team-taught classes (one per week for the first two terms)
- tutorials (one every 1-2 weeks) and/or language classes
Second and third years:
You will take six options and produce a site or museum report. The options are chosen from:
- Integrated classes, bringing together historical and archaeological approaches to a particular period
- Core papers, which deal with central topics in Greco-Roman studies
- Further papers, which allow you either to build up concentrated expertise in some central areas and periods or to extend into earlier and later periods, and into non-classical cultures
- Greek or Latin Language papers
Four courses are taken.
First University examinations:
|2nd and 3rd year|
Six courses are taken from a wide choice of options, including:
Final University examinations:
The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.
- A-levels: AAA
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 39 (including core points) with 666 at HL
- or any other equivalent (see details of international qualifications)
A classical language, Classical Civilisation or Ancient History can be helpful to students in completing this course, although they are not required for admission.
Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)
These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2016.
Total annual fees
& Isle of Man)
Despite what you may have heard, it's no more expensive to study at Oxford than at any other university. In fact, our world-class resources and college provision can help you to lower your living costs.
Living costs for 2016/17 are estimated to be between £970 and £1,433 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.
A full loan is available from the UK government to cover tuition fees for students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your tuition fees up front.
In 2016 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government grants and loans. See further details.
Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.
Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:
Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford support page.
*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding
Additional information for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
CAAH students are required to undertake fieldwork at the end of their first year. Fieldwork projects recently attended by CAAH students include:
- Dorchester Field School (University of Oxford/Oxford Archaeology), Oxfordshire
- Vindolanda “Frontiers in Transition” Project, Northumberland
- Sangro Valley Project, Abruzzo, Italy
- Apolline Project, near Naples, Italy
- Illyrian Coastal Project, Kotor, Montenegro
- Casa Herrera, Mérida, Extremadura, Spain
- Sanisera Field School, Menorca, Spain
- Thouria, Kalamata, Greece
You can choose an alternative location if you wish, subject to the approval of the CAAH standing committee.
The cost of participating in fieldwork may be anything from £450 to £2,200, depending on your choice of fieldwork project. All CAAH students starting in 2015 will receive a fieldwork grant of £600 from the faculty. In cases where the cost of attending a fieldwork project exceeds £600, students may apply to the faculty for up to £400 of additional funding.
You may also incur some costs in the course of researching your site or museum report, depending on the location of the site or museum on which the report is based. If you choose an object or group of objects in the Ashmolean Museum you may not incur any costs, but if you choose to visit an overseas site or museum you will need to budget for travel, accommodation, meals and entry fees. Each year the faculty awards a number of Charles Oldham and C.E. Stevens classical travelling scholarships for which second- and third-year CAAH students are eligible to apply; otherwise your college may be able to offer some funding towards your travel costs.
All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.
As part of your application you will be required to submit by 10 November 2015 two recent marked essays written as part of your school or college course.
You do not need to take a written test as part of an application for this course.
What are tutors looking for?
Tutors are looking for intellectual potential, the specific visual, textual and reasoning abilities that are required for this course, and, of course, serious interest in and commitment to both classical archaeology and ancient history. Tutors will consider all the available information – past and predicted examination results, the personal statement, academic reference and interviews – to assess the individual candidate’s potential to benefit from the course provided by Oxford, and their potential to be a good tutorial student, and to attain good results in examinations. The weight given to the different criteria will vary according to the individual background and circumstances of each candidate.
Candidates may wish to refer to the selection criteria for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History.
There is no reading list for students applying for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, as we encourage students to engage with whatever they find interesting about the ancient world. If you are interested in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, this will include the historical and archaeological evidence through which we learn about that world. As well as visiting your local museum, or other museums, you may wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to historical and archaeological materials, such as the British Museum or Oxford’s own Ashmolean Musem, or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
There are also many social media sites which you can join such as Classics Confidential, Classics Outreach and Classics International.
Katie, 2nd year
'It’s a completely exciting world of military history, of economy, of politics. You find it laid out in floor plans, and archaeology and texts.'
The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.
Oxford’s tutorial system
Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.
A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.
Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.
The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.
The benefits of the college system
- Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
- Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
- Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.
It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.