History (Ancient and Modern) | University of Oxford
History (Ancient and Modern)
Colosseo and Venus temple columns from Roman forum, Italy.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

History (Ancient and Modern)

mortar boardUCAS codeV118calendarDuration3 years (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements History
 A classical language, Classical Civilisation, Ancient History
tickAdmissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/hattickWritten workOne piece
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 69%
Successful: 23%
Intake: 21
*3-year average 2016-18

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 615013
Email History
+44 (0) 1865 288372
Email Classics

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

The Ancient and Modern History course enables students to study history from the Bronze Age Mediterranean and Near East, through the Roman Empire, middle ages and early modern period, right up to British, European and World history in the present day. Fruitful comparisons between societies abound, and the methods by which we study them are mutually illuminating.

The extraordinary range of choices (more than 90 options) for this course reflects the breadth of interests of those who teach here. The Oxford Classics and History Faculties are world-famous for teaching and research. The people who will teach you here will often be leading researchers in their field, with lecturers encouraged to put on new courses which reflect their own interests. Oxford also possesses exceptional library provision for History in the Bodleian Library, the History Faculty Library, the Sackler  and the Weston Library’s special collections, as well as a dedicated Classics centre.

 students students at a lecture student
“Choosing to study Ancient and Modern History was, for me, a pretty easy decision. I’d just read Robert Graves I, Claudius and I was studying some Ancient History at school and really enjoying it so I thought, why not? The Ancient and Modern History course offers a great range of options and allows me to study some of the most important aspects of European history. The lecturers and tutors are experts in their field which is a huge benefit and the variety of the libraries, including a specialist Ancient History library, the Sackler, built in true imposing neo-classical style, means I am never unable to find, or forced to buy, a book for my course.”  
ROBERT
“The range of choice is amazing, first year can seem a little restrictive as you only get a choice of two, then four, subjects but as soon as you reach Trinity [summer] Term the entirety of history seems to become open to you - it seems a bit daunting at first, but it's a great feature to have.”
CALLUM
“Ancient and Modern History has offered me an amazing freedom to cover topics as varied as Alexander the Great to Meiji Japan during my three years at Oxford. Talking to my friends on the traditional History course, it is really evident just how much flexibility we Ancient and Modern Historians enjoy and the sheer breadth that we are able to cover. It is amazing to be reading the first-hand accounts of Cicero’s experience of the Late Roman Republic in the morning and then be debating the role of the US and USSR in Africa during the Cold War in the afternoon.”
OLIVER

A typical week

During the first year, you will be expected to attend around five lectures each week, participate in regular meetings with tutors to discuss work, conduct independent research and write at least one essay a week. In the second and third years you will have the opportunity to choose from an enormous variety of lectures, and your regular tutorials will be supplemented by faculty classes where you will discuss work with a larger number of students. The third-year thesis will give you the opportunity to engage in a piece of independent research. Generally, students are very much in charge of their own timetable throughout their courses.

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 12 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:

  • One period of either Greek or Roman history
  • One of the periods of European/World history offered
  • The world of Homer and Hesiod; or Augustan Rome; or one of the History optional subjects
  • A text-based paper on Herodotus; or Sallust; or Approaches to history; or Historiography: Tacitus to Weber from the History syllabus or Greek/Latin language paper

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: four written papers

YEARS 2 AND 3

COURSES

Six courses are taken:

  • A period of Greek or Roman history
  • A period of European/World history or one of the periods of the history of the British Isles
  • A choice of further subjects (at least one of the further or the special subjects must be ancient) from the History syllabus; or an ancient further subject, including:
    • Athenian democracy in the classical age
    • Politics, society and culture from Nero to Hadrian
    • Religions in the Greek and Roman world c31 BC–AD 312
    • The Greeks and the Mediterranean world 950–500 BC
    • Art under the Roman Empire AD 14–337
    • The Hellenistic world: societies and cultures, c300 BC–100 BC
    • The Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BC
  • Special subjects (at least one of the further or the special subjects must be ancient) including work on primary sources, textual or archaeological. A choice of about 30 special subjects from the History syllabus or an ancient special subject, including:
    • Alexander the Great and his early successors
    • Cicero: politics and thought in the late Republic
    • The Greek city in the Roman world from Dio Chrysostom to John Chrysostom
  • Disciplines of history
  • Thesis
  • Optional Greek/Latin language paper

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations: six written papers and one thesis; or five written exams, one extended essay and one thesis; or four written exams, one portfolio of submitted essays, one extended essay and one thesis; optional additional language paper

For the latest information on all course details and options see the History and Classics websites.

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:38 (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

 Recommended:It is highly recommended for candidates to have History to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.
 Helpful:A classical language, Classical Civilisation and 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 test

Test: HAT
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the HAT page.

Changes to HAT for 2019 entry: The HAT will consist of one question based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered in one hour. The format of this question will be similar to question 3 of past papers which are available on the HAT page

Written work

Description:All candidates are required to send in an essay on an historical topic of A-level, or equivalent, written in their own time as part of their normal school or college work. The essay may deal with a topic from ancient or modern history.
Deadline:  10 November 2019

For more information, and to download a cover sheet, please see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are looking for intellectual curiosity, as well as a flexible approach to engaging with unfamiliar concepts or arguments and an enthusiasm for ancient history or classics, even if you have not studied them before. If you are shortlisted, you may be asked to discuss your submitted written work and personal statement during interview. Candidates may also be asked to read and talk about a short passage as part of the interview. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the History website.

Careers

Oxford historians move on to careers in fields as varied as the law, investment banking and consultancies, advertising, accountancy, the Civil Service, publishing, journalism and the media, global charity work, museums, librarianship and archive work, and teaching. Recent Ancient and Modern History graduates include a civil servant, a librarian and a charity campaign manager.

Mary-Kate says: ‘Through my joint course I developed skills in working flexibly and under pressure, enhanced my analytical skills and learnt to be independently minded. These have all proven to be invaluable assets in my career as a Fast Streamer for the Home Office. Being a Fast Streamer means that you follow an accelerated training and development graduate programme.’

Heather now works as a Lecturer in British History at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She says: ‘Learning to work independently and under time pressure as an undergraduate was the perfect preparation for an academic career. It gave me the skills I needed to teach successfully at a university level and the self-confidence necessary to publish and present my research before my peers.’

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.)

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 Ancient and Modern History

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

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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