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

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study, Part-time

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Our online MSc in Ancient Worlds provides you with 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 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 (or lecturers), 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 often be based on a final essay or report, which is submitted at the end of each course. 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 organisers may 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
  • and may include discussion forums

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

Course options change every year depending on staff availability. Typically there will be three options from which to choose in Semester One (in addition to the Compulsory Course), and four options in Semester Two.

Option courses previously offered include those listed below.

  • Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: An Introduction
  • Ancient Egyptian Religion and the Afterlife
  • Ancient Literature from a Comparative Perspective
  • Athenian democracy and modern preoccupations
  • Conflict Archaeology and the Human Past
  • Debating Marriage Between Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Egypt and its neighbours during the New Kingdom (1550-1067 BCE)
  • Etruscan Italy 1000 - 300 BC
  • Herod the Great and the End of Hellenism
  • Prehistory of Egypt: major steps for humankind millennia before the pyramids
  • Running the Roman Empire
  • The Athenian Akropolis
  • The Archaeology of Technology: From Prehistory to the Present
  • The Hittite Kingdom: History and Archaeology of an Ancient Near Eastern Civilisation
  • The Jewish Diaspora in the Roman Empire
  • The Near East from Justinian to the Fall of the Umayyads
  • The New Testament in the Graeco-Roman World
  • The Origins of Agriculture: Reconsidering the Neolithic
  • Roman Sculpture
  • Seafaring and Society in the Ancient Greek World
  • Women, Gender, and the New Testament: Text and Theory


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.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScAncient WorldsUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2024/25
MScAncient Worlds2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
  • 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

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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

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

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScAncient WorldsUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
MScAncient Worlds2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

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
  • William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 8 July 2024

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

You must submit one reference with your application.


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
  • William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG