Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

MA Honours in Ancient Mediterranean Civilisations

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by:
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Ancient Mediterranean Civilisations
UCAS code: VV41
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Classics and Ancient History, Archaeology
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: SHCA Quality Director
Date of production/revision: Nov 2006, June 2008, Feb 2011, July 2011, May 2012

External summary

Ancient history and archaeology provide differing narratives and perspectives for our understanding of the ancient Mediterranean world, a world which can be understood to extend in its broadest sense from northern coasts of Britain to the boundaries of Iran, and to last from the emergence of farming and growth of complex societies in Western Asia to the rise of Islam and the emergence of the Celtic church. The rich literary and historical tradition which survives from antiquity presents a complex but often fragmentary narrative of human endeavour, sometimes biased towards major events and great men. By contrast archaeology studies the human past through an understanding of material culture and physical remains, by default the discipline needs to be multi – or interdisciplinary, utilising a wide range of methodologies. The programme expects students to negotiate within these differing strands of evidence, both textual and material, and offers them the opportunity to become familiar with these diverse sources and to recognize how they may contribute to a fuller understanding of ancient societies and cultures.

Students will be expected to:

  • work independently, to organise and synthesise data derived from a range of sources, to critically assess evidence and evaluate a variety of competing or conflicting factors, to review differing theoretical perspectives, to develop and organise their arguments, and to present a coherent, reasoned and well supported set of conclusions.
  • make effective use of a wide range information sources and data.
  • present arguments and results in written form, in clear and correct English.
  • present information and arguments orally with clarity and confidence.
  • manage their time effectively.
  • show their ability to use information technology.
  • demonstrate an ability to use, evaluate and criticise literary and documentary source materials, and recognise the importance of quantitative, spatial and visual evidence where relevant to their work.
  • appreciate the material basis of archaeology, the contested nature of objects, the social relationships that are spun around them and the people who use and interpret them
  • employ appropriate participative team skills and team leadership skills.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims:

  • develop student’s knowledge and understanding of the history and material culture of the ancient Mediterranean world
  • provide a multidisciplinary understanding of archaeology across a range of geographical regions and chronological periods
  • explore the theoretical and methodological basis of archaeology and its relationships to other disciplines; and to consider the contributions which it can make to the understanding of the past and contemporary worlds.
  • develop the intellectual and professional tools required to work effectively with material drawn from all forms of archaeological and historical investigations. 
  • develop the student’s ability to evaluate and question a range of written and material evidence and to present evidence using the full range of written, numeric and graphic skills.
  • give practical experience of the practice of archaeology.
  • encourage the students’ intellectual and creative independence, through the acquisition of a wide range of transferable skills.
  • equip students for progression to a wider range of carers or further academic study
  • introduce ethical principles relevant to the study of materials inherited from the past

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  • understanding of the relationship between the theory and practice of archaeology.
  • understanding a range of viewpoints on problems of interpretation and evaluation of the past
  • understanding of the ethical, social and political issues which surround the practice of archaeology and the interpretation of archaeological data.
  • understanding of the professional organisation and structure of applied archaeology in one or more countries.
  • experience a substantial range of training in field archaeological techniques, and/or training in related areas of applied archaeology.
  • understanding to an appropriate level of laboratory-based techniques and applications.
  • understanding of the processes of data management and quantitative and qualitative methods as applied to archaeology.
  • understanding of the role of the past and its study in the shaping of ethnic, gender, class, national and other identities

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

  • ability to draw valid conclusions about the ancient Mediterranean world derived from a range of historical and archaeological sources
  • ability to identify, define and analyse archaeological problems
  • ability to develop a reasoned argument, support it with relevant evidence, and communicate it appropriately and persuasively in written or spoken form
  • ability to extract key elements and meanings from complex data sets
  • ability to devise own research questions and to undertake independent research
  • ability to design a research programme and to formulate and test hypotheses through the collation of existing data and/or the generation of new information
  • ability to exercise critical judgement in the evaluation of the  opinions and arguments of other scholar

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

  • openness to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
  • ability to identify and implement processes and strategies for learning
  • independence as a learner, with readiness to take responsibility for one’s own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
  • ability to make reasoned decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought.
  • ability to test, modify and strengthen one’s own views through collaboration and debate
  • confidence in one’s ability to assess visual evidence and to draw conclusions from it
  • an ability to analyse how national, cultural, social or political assumptions and viewpoints can influence the study of the ancient world
  • an ability to reflect on the role of the ancient world in the making of the modern world
  • intellectual curiosity
  • ability to sustain intellectual interest

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

  • ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means convey understanding of archaeological problems and issues and one’s interpretation of them.
  • ability to marshal argument lucidly and coherently
  • ability to collaborate and to relate to others
  • readiness to seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
  • ability to articulate one’s skills as identified through self-reflection

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

  • ability to employ appropriate participative team skills and team leadership skills (notably managing a small group and directing the work of others in the context of archaeological fieldwork)
  • ability to manage their own time and to work  to defined objectives within strict limits of time and/or resources
  • possession of the confidence to make decisions based on understanding and personal/intellectual autonomy
  • ability to transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities flexibly from one context to another
  • ability to work effectively with others, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills
  • effectiveness in working with, managing, and leading others in ways that value their diversity and equality and that encourage their contribution

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

  • an understanding of the relationship between the theory and practice of archaeology.
  • an understanding of the qualitative differences between written and material sources for the study of the past
  • an understanding of the bibliographical and library research skills, as well as a range of skills in textual criticism and visual analysis
  • an understanding of the professional organisation and structure of the practice of applied archaeology in one or more countries.
  • undertaken a substantial range of training in field archaeological techniques, or training in related areas of applied archaeology.
  • an understanding to an appropriate level of laboratory-based techniques and applications.
  • an understanding of the processes of data management and quantitative methods as applied to archaeology.
  • an ability to comprehend one or more foreign languages, ancient or modern, where relevant
  • an ability to deploy a range of presentation aids and electronic resources for effective communication

Programme structure and features

  • Modes of study: the standard mode of study for the MA Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations is full-time.
  • Programme-specific entry, typical programme structure and progression requirements:
  • The programme is open to students with or without prior knowledge of ancient history and archaeology.
  • At first-year level, all students are required to successfully complete (at 40% or above) Archaeology 1 (40-credits) and two 20-credit Classics courses that provide an introduction to the study of the ancient world, from the following (‘The Roman World 1a’; ‘The Roman World 1b’; ‘The Greek World 1a’; ‘The Greek World 1b’); students are moreover required to take a further 40 credits of their choice.
  • At second-year level, students are required to complete successfully (at 50% or above at first attempt) Archaeology 2 (40 credits) and two 20-credit courses specific to the study of classical archaeology (‘Classical Art 2A’ and ‘Classical Archaeology 2B’); and 40 further credits of their choice.
  • At Honours level, students are required to take in each of the two Honours years 120 credits. In Year 3 all students take two 20-credit courses: Theoretical Archaeology, and Archaeology in Practice. In Year 4, 40 credits must be from the Dissertation, and the subject of the dissertation may be chosen from either Archaeology or Classical Archaeology.
  • Assessment in the MA in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations typically involves a combination of coursework and examinations. Full information on the programme and course specific learning outcomes and assessment practices are laid out clearly in the Classics Sub-Honours Handbook, the Classics Honours Handbook, and in specific course booklets available for each course of this programme.
  • The range of possibilities in Years 1 and 2 enables sideways movement into and out of this particular programme as the student's preferences and aptitudes emerge, and it provides different contexts and insights which are valuable for more advanced study of Archaeology and Classics.
  • SQCF credit points: courses at 1st and 2nd year level are at SQCF credit level 8; courses at Honours level are at SQCF credit level 10.
  • Exit awards: the MA in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations (Honours) is the typical exit award for the programme after a normal study period of four years. Students who fail to progress into Honours or who experience difficulties with the completion of their Honours programme might be able to move to a general BA in the CAHSS subject to a number of conditions as laid out from time to time by CAHSS.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims. The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

Specific activities will vary with course options taken, but may include:

In Year 1 (for core courses)

Lectures

Tutorials

Field Work

In Year 2 (for core courses)

Lectures

Tutorials

Practicals

Field trip

In Year 3

Lectures

Seminars

Practicals

Groupwork

Museum visits

In Year 4

Research Project

Lectures

Seminars

Practicals

Groupwork

Museum visits

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 121790
Year 219810
Year 314860
Year 410900

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.

Various assessment methods are used dependent on course options taken, but may include:

In Year 1 (for core courses)

Essays

Written Examinations

Critical Analysis Exercise

In Year 2 (for core courses)

Essays

Written Examinations

Class Tests

Practical portfolio

Analytical Review

In Year 3

Essays

Written Examinations

Seminar Presentations/Assignments

Archive/Museum project

Workshop report

Practical Projects

Group Exercise

In Year 4

Dissertation

Essays

Written Examinations

Seminar Presentations/Assignments

Archive/Museum project

Workshop report

Practical Projects

Group Exercise

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 157043
Year 258042
Year 316084
Year 418577

Career opportunities

Classics graduates often progress to further study or careers in academia, teaching and museum work. Previous graduates have also gone on to work in law, accountancy, finance, IT, publishing or the Civil Service.

Other items

Students on all the Classics degrees can do a non-compulsory year abroad in their third year, through ERASMUS or International Exchange.