Postgraduate study

Ancient Worlds (Archaeology and Classics) (Online Learning) MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Flexible

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Our online MSc in Ancient Worlds provides you the opportunity to explore the human past, from early prehistory to late antiquity through a diverse range of courses and independent research. You will be taught online through our virtual learning environment, and will have access to extensive digital resources and support services.

The programme has been developed specifically for students who wish to further their study in Archaeology, Classics or a combination of both. It brings researchers together to exchange ideas and to offer a range of thematic, as well as regionally specific courses.

Our highly experienced staff, with a wide range of specialisms and expertise, will help you choose a relevant subject for your dissertation, and enhance your skills in independent research and critical analysis.

The programme is structured to enable you to fit your studies around other commitments, develop your own specialised interests, whilst having the flexibility to study in a way that works for you.


Both the core and option courses are taught through using a variety of methods, which could include a combination of:

  • pre-recorded lectures
  • live seminars
  • discussion forums

The methods will vary from course to course and may include group work or a reflective diary, depending upon the type of course. You will benefit from research-led teaching. Each course is coordinated by a dedicated lecturer, and due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the degree, some courses will be taught by more than one member of staff, and some may have the additional benefit of contributions from an occasional visiting or guest lecturer.

You will be part of an interactive online community where you can communicate collectively with your fellow students, as well as on a one-to-one basis with your tutors.


Our online courses incorporate a range of assignments which may include discussion forum tasks, source reviews, article reviews and recordings of oral presentations. A larger proportion of the final grade for the course may be based on a final essay or report, which is submitted at the end of each course, for which students will receive feedforward at a one-to-one meeting with the course organiser via Skype. Depending upon the course, you may often be able to choose your own essay/report topic, subject to prior approval by the course organiser. Coursework is submitted and marked electronically using an online system called 'Turnitin' which is integrated within our e-learning platform.

Study materials

Reading material is provided online through ebooks, eReserves (these could be scanned book chapters, for example) and eJournal articles. Some course authors may of course suggest optional readings which may not always be available in digital format. This reflects the reality of research, and may especially apply to your dissertation research.

The University library provides a wealth of material to support online learning students. These include an extensive collection of electronic journals and ebooks, bibliographic databases and a wealth of digitised primary source material.

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

The MSc is delivered entirely online. You will undertake:

  • one compulsory course (20 credits)
  • five option courses (total 100 credits)
  • a research dissertation (60 credits)

Both the core and option courses are taught through a combination of:

  • recorded lecture
  • live seminars
  • discussion forums

You will gain advanced knowledge and understanding of selected topics in Archaeology, Classics or a combination of both, and enhance your skills in independent research and critical analysis in written form.

In the same way as on-campus students, you will benefit from being taught mainly by experienced University of Edinburgh core staff in Archaeology and Classics. Certain courses may have the additional benefit of contributions from an occasional visiting or guest lecturer.

Compulsory course

  • Research Skills for Archaeology and Classics

Option courses

We are developing courses exploring many aspects of the Ancient World.

The courses we are hoping to run include:

Academic year 2021-2022*

  • The Athenian Akropolis
  • Debating Marriage Between Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Herod the Great and the End of Hellenism
  • Prehistory of Egypt: major steps for humankind millennia before the pyramids
  • Ancient Literature from a Comparative Perspective
  • Egypt and its neighbours during the New Kingdom (1550-1067 BCE)
  • Etruscan Italy 1000 - 300 BC
  • Roman Sculpture

Academic year 2022-2024

  • Early Prehistoric Britain
  • Money, Men and Gods in Archaic and Classical Greece
  • Island Worlds and Mediterranean prehistory: identity, insularity and connectivity
  • Ptolemaic Egypt
  • Early Roman Egypt
  • The City of Carthage: From Dido to the Arab Conquest
  • Here comes the war: conflict archaeology and the human past
  • Cultural Heritage today


The dissertation (60 credits) of 13-15,000 words is an independent research project supervised by one member (or two if appropriate) of academic staff. Students have considerable freedom to define their own dissertation project, as long as it is feasible and falls within the available supervisory expertise.

*(Revised 7 June to include more course titles and remove Prehistoric Egypt and Law in the Roman Provinces.)

  • a critical understanding of ancient and prehistoric societies, of variable geographical or chronological range depending on options taken
  • the ability to utilise a variety of methods for the analysis of material and textual evidence with the aim of producing advanced and/or original research
  • the ability to assess and critique complex historical and/or archaeological questions and theories
  • the gaining of authentic experiences of building rigorous and academically valid arguments; and communicating and defending ideas and research findings through both scholarly outputs, and peer-led, collaborative discussions
  • the confidence to devise, structure, and successfully complete an independent research project
  • extensive experience of navigating online and offline resources for academic research

Our students view a graduate degree from Edinburgh as an advanced qualification valued and respected by many employers, others are interested in pursuing long-term academic careers and therefore consider the MSc as preparation for postgraduate study at PhD level.

You will have the opportunity to gain a range of practical skills and academic experience, in a variety of contexts.

Examples of career paths could include:

  • academic research
  • various roles in the heritage, travel or tourism sectors

You may develop your own career pathway in unusual ways or branch into related or different fields, while maintaining a lifelong interest in archaeology and the ancient world.

This video gives you details of how online degrees are taught:

Watch a short introduction to our MSc Ancient Worlds

A UK 2:1 honours degree, a minimum US 3.25 GPA or other international equivalent, in a subject related to this programme.

It is not necessary that your first degree is in Archaeology or Classics or a related area, however, previous study in these subjects at honours or 'upper undergraduate' level is strongly advised. You may need to enrol on a feeder course if you do not have experience.

Relevant experience, or professional or other qualifications will also be considered.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s government loan schemes.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • Graduate School Office, Room 2.29, William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

If you are applying for funding we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.


You may also need to supply references for funding applications. Read the application guidance for more information:

PgCert and PgDip options

If you wish to study for anything less than the full MSc, you should still apply for the flexible MSc programme and will be able to exit when you meet the requirements for either a course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • Graduate School Office, Room 2.29, William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG