Classical Archaeology and Ancient History | University of Oxford
Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
Detail of a statue in the Ashmolean Museum.
(Image credit: Richard Watts).

Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

UCAS codeVV14Duration3 years (BA)
Entrance requirementsAAASubject requirements  A classical language, Classical Civilisation or Ancient History
Admissions test(s)NoneWritten workTwo pieces
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 90%
Successful: 22%
Intake: 20
*3-year average 2016-18

Contact

+44 (0) 1865 288372
Email Classics

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

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 through 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.

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 post-holders in the two fields. The Ashmolean Museum also contains wide-ranging collections of art and artefacts from classical cultures.

Fieldwork/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. Fieldwork projects recently attended by CAAH students include: Sangro Valley Project, Abruzzo, Italy; Halaesa, Sicily, Italy; Sanisera Field School, Menorca, Spain and Thouria, Kalamata, Greece.

A typical week (Year 1)

  • Lectures (4-6 per week)
  • Team-taught classes (one per week for the first two terms)
  • Tutorials (one every one to two weeks) and/or language classes

A typical week (Years 2-3)

You will take six options and produce a site or museum report. Currently, 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.

Tutorials are usually two students (possibly three) and a tutor. For the core papers the class size is usually eight or less. Where options are taught in classes, the class size will depend on the options you choose. They would usually be no more than 20 students. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are studying at doctorate level. To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

Four courses are taken
Core elements:

  • Aristocracy and democracy in the Greek world, 550–450 BC
  • Republic to empire: Rome, 50 BC to AD 50

Current optional elements:

  • Archaeology: Homeric archaeology and early Greece from 1550 to 700 BC; Greek vases; Greek sculpture c600– 300 BC; Roman architecture
  • History: Thucydides and the West; Aristophanes’ political comedy; Cicero and Catiline; Tacitus and Tiberius
  • Ancient Languages: Beginning Ancient Greek or Latin; Intermediate Ancient Greek or Latin; Advanced Ancient Greek or Latin

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: four written papers

YEARS 2 AND 3

COURSES

Six courses are taken from a wide choice of options. These currently include:

  • Rome, Italy, and the Hellenistic East, c300-100 BC
  • Imperial culture and society, cAD 50-150
  • The Greeks and the Mediterranean world, c950-500 BC
  • Greek art and archaeology, c500-300 BC
  • Art under the Roman Empire, AD 14-337
  • Roman archaeology: cities and settlement under the Empire
  • Alexander the Great and his early successors
  • The Greek city in the Roman world from Dio Chrysostom to John Chrysostom
  • Thucydides and the Greek world, 479-403 BC
  • Republic in crisis, 146-46 BC
  • Egyptian art and architecture
  • The archaeology of Minoan Crete, 3200-1000 BC
  • Etruscan Italy, 900-300 BC
  • Science-based methods in archaeology
  • Greek and Roman coins
  • Mediterranean maritime archaeology
  • The archaeology of the late Roman Empire, AD 284-641
  • Athenian democracy in the Classical Age
  • Cicero: politics and thought in the late Republic
  • Religions in the Greek and Roman world, c31 BC-AD 312
  • Sexuality and gender in Greece and Rome
  • The Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BC
  • St Augustine and the last days of Rome, AD 370-430
  • Epigraphy of the Greek and/or Roman world, c700 BC-AD 300
  • Intermediate Ancient Greek or Latin
  • Advanced Ancient Greek or Latin
  • Research for a site or museum report

For more information, visit the Classical Archaeology and Ancient History website.

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations: six written papers; one site or museum report

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

A-levels:AAA
Advanced Highers:                    AA/AAB
IB: 39 (including core points) with 666 at HL                                                                          
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

  Helpful: A classical language, Classical Civilisation or Ancient History can be helpful to students in completing this course, although they are not required for admission.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

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.

Admissions tests

You do not need to take a written test as part of an application for this course.

Written work

Description: Two pieces which have been recently marked in the normal process of school or college work.
Submission deadline:  10 November 2019

See further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are looking for intellectual potential, the specific visual, textual and reasoning abilities 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, submitted written work and interviews – to assess your potential to benefit from the course, to be a good tutorial student, and to attain good results in examinations. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Classics website.

Careers

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 the law. Recent CAAH graduates include a financial adviser, a teacher and a curator. Sarah became 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.’

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.)

Latest information for UK undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Arrangements for EU students starting in 2020 have not yet been confirmed. Read the latest information.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2019.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£26,235

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 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.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £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 living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

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:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships 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

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

At the end of the first year, CAAH students are required to undertake fieldwork. Fieldwork projects recently attended by CAAH students include:  

  • Dorchester Field School (University of Oxford/Oxford Archaeology), Oxfordshire
  • Sangro Valley Project, Abruzzo, Italy
  • Apolline Project, near Naples, Italy
  • Tarquinia, Lazio, Italy
  • Halaesa, Sicily, Italy
  • 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 £500 to £2,500, depending on your choice of fieldwork project. All CAAH students starting in 2019 will receive a fieldwork grant of up to £1,000 from the faculty.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose

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