Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

MA Honours in Ancient History and Latin

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: n/a
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Ancient History and Latin
UCAS code: VQ16
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s):

QAA Benchmark Statement – Classics and Ancient History

Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: SHCA Quality Director
Date of production/revision:

May 2012

External summary

The MA in Ancient History and Latin combines the study of the history of the Graeco-Roman world with the study of one of the classical languages. It is of particular educational value in that it provides material for the development of the disciplinary skills of the historian in addition to the development of the skills of the philologist. In addition to the study of Graeco-Roman history, we offer the study of other ancient peoples and civilisations, such as the Persians, the Carthaginians, the various peoples of Italy as well as post-classical, i.e. late antique topics, either as part of the general study of ancient history at sub-honours level, and/or in more specialised study at honours level. The study of Latin affords the opportunity to acquire a sound grammatical understanding of one of the classical languages, a good knowledge of its vocabulary and the different uses by different authors as well as an appreciation of the relationship between ancient society and its language and literature. Because it involves the careful interpretation of scanty and complex evidence, both written and material, to understand peoples who are chronologically remote but highly significant for the modern world, their histories, languages and literatures, the MA in Ancient History and Latin is both intellectually demanding and intrinsically interesting.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims

  • to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the histories and literatures of the Greek and Roman civilisations in the classical period in combination with the development of linguistic skills in Latin, leading to growing fluency, accuracy of comprehension and sensitivity to linguistic nuance;
  • to enable students to place this knowledge into the wider Mediterranean context that has produced the Greek and Roman civilisations;
  • to enable the student to identify and analyse for these purposes a variety of different forms of evidence (literary, epigraphic, papyrological and archaeological);
  • to provide the intellectual tools with which to apply such evidence to the investigation, understanding and critical evaluation of the social, economic, political and religious structures of the ancient civilisations across an extended temporal period;
  • to develop detailed knowledge, understanding and critical appreciation of Latin literature;
  • to provide a solid methodological and cognitive foundation for further research in ancient history and Latin literature, or for further study and research in the Arts and Humanities;
  • to develop the general critical, analytical and communicative skills which prepare students for vocational training, for a wide variety of employment opportunities, and for continued life-long learning.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

Graduates from the MA in Ancient History and Latin will possess and demonstrate:

  • an understanding of other cultures, their histories, literatures and languages, and ways of critically engaging with them.
  • an acquaintance with the major genres of ancient classical literature and with the linguistic and literary conventions of these genres.
  • a sound grasp of Latin, its grammar and vocabulary, its similarities to and differences from the syntax of the English language.
  • an understanding and critical appreciation of the thoughts, beliefs, ideas and concepts of classical authors (literary, historiographic, philosophic, rhetorical, didactic, etc.) in their social, political and historical contexts.
  • an understanding of the different value of various bodies of evidence for the study of different problems and topics.
  • an understanding of a range of viewpoints on problems of interpretation and evaluation of the past.
  • an understanding of (esp.) economic, legal, social, cultural, ethical, and political responsibilities and issues surrounding the study of the past and its applications.
  • an understanding of the role of the past and its study in the shaping of class, ethnic, gender, national and other identities with current, sometimes sensitive relevance.
  • an understanding of how to enjoy the life of the mind with particular reference to an intellectual engagement with the ancient world.

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

Graduates from the MA in Ancient History and Latin will possess and demonstrate:

  • an ability to draw valid conclusions about the Graeco-Roman past and to place the Graeco-Roman past into its Mediterranean setting.
  • an ability to apply linguistic and philological knowledge in the close reading and interpretation of classical texts in Latin.
  • an ability to analyse and comment on the thoughts, beliefs, ideas and concepts of ancient authors with due consideration of their social, political and historical contexts and of pertinent secondary literature.
  • an ability to identify, define and analyse historical problems through the collection and interpretation of a wide range of primary sources pertaining to the study of ancient history.
  • an ability to exercise critical judgement in the evaluation of the opinions and arguments of other ancient historians.
  • an ability to think creatively and imaginatively in order to solve difficult historical and philological problems with often scanty and/or complex evidence.
  • an ability to formulate own questions of the historical past, and to search for, evaluate and successfully employ ancient evidence and/or modern theories in answering these questions.

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

Graduates from the MA in Ancient History and Latin will possess and demonstrate:

  • an ability to appreciate linguistic, literary and cultural difference in the use (and users) of Latin.
  • an ability to gather and evaluate complex and variegated data, and to organise this into complex and lengthy arguments of either (or both) a linguistic/philological and historical nature.
  • ability to organise complex and lengthy historical arguments and to present well-reasoned conclusions.
  • an ability to seek out source material independently and to employ that material in the analysis of problems and the answering of questions arising from the study of the ancient world.
  • an ability to formulate an own opinion on the basis of the ancient evidence that is new or different to the views expressed by others.
  • an ability to test, modify and strengthen one’s own views through collaboration and debate with peers and seniors.
  • an ability to turn intellectual curiosity in the ancient world into the responsible study of an important aspect of human history, and to relate that history to one’s own place in the world.
  • an ability to analyse how national, cultural, social or political assumptions and viewpoints can influence the study of the ancient world and the roles and places of the different elements that made up the ancient world.
  • an ability to reflect on the role of the ancient world, its history, languages and literatures in the making of the modern world.
  • an ability to reflect on the role of historical inquiry in the making of the modern world.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates from the MA in Ancient History and Latin will possess and demonstrate:

  • an ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding.
  • an ability to marshal argument lucidly, coherently and concisely, be it in writing or in speaking.
  • an ability to think on their feet when presented with unexpected and/or unusual evidence, questions or topics and to propose remedies and answers in a clear and persuasive manner in the time given.
  • an ability to present one’s views in collaboration with others, both in group discussion and in joint presentations.
  • an ability to present lucidly the results of investigation to specialists and non-specialists alike, orally or in written form.

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

Graduates from the MA in Ancient History and Latin will possess and demonstrate:

  • an ability to work independently and investigate purposefully.
  • an ability to approach intellectual challenges with academic rigour and mental agility.
  • an ability to think under pressure when addressing often difficult questions.
  • an ability to manage and meet firm deadlines and to organise their own learning and workload to that effect.
  • an ability to contribute to wider debates and issues on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of the ancient world that shows a high level of social responsibility.
  • an ability to collaborate effectively with others, including peers and academic seniors such as tutors and lecturers, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills in ways that value personal difference.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Graduates from the MA in Ancient History and Latin will possess and demonstrate:

  • a command of bibliographical and library research skills, as well as a range of skills in reading and textual analysis.
  • an ability to employ a range of electronic resources and presentation aids, and means of electronic communication (e.g. electronic databases, powerpoint, wikis, etc.).

Programme structure and features

The section presents the structure of the programme in relation to the University’s Curriculum Framework.

Modes of study: the standard mode of study for the MA in Ancient History and  Latin 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 is open to total beginners in Latin as well as to students who have already attained some knowledge of Latin.
  • First-year Latin is taught in two different streams to take account of the students’ previous linguistic attainment: absolute beginners take Latin 1a (1st semester) and Latin 1b (2nd semester) in Year 1, while those who already have a secure knowledge of the language take Latin 1c (1st semester) and Latin 1d (2nd semester) in Year 1. [Students in 1c and 1d read the same texts and attend classes with those in 2a and 2b (see below), but have separate and different tutorials and examinations.] In second year, both streams converge to Latin 2a (1st semester) and Latin 2b (2nd semester).
  • A pass at 40% is required in the first-year courses in Latin to progress to the second-year courses. And a pass at 50% (at first attempt) is required in the second-year courses to progress to Honours.  
  • At first-year level, all students are required to successfully complete (at 40% or above) two out of four 20-credit Classics courses that provide an introduction to the study of the ancient world (‘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) two 20-credit courses specific to the study of ancient history (‘Ancient History 2a’; ‘Ancient History 2b’), and Latin 2a and Latin 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, 20 credits must be from ‘Latin Language (A); and in Year 4, 40 credits must be from the Dissertation, and 20 credits from ‘Latin Language (B)’. In Year 3 and in Year 4 at least 40 credits must come from the study of ancient history, and at least another 20 credits in Latin in each of the two Honours years.
  • Assessment in the MA in Ancient History and Latin 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 Ancient History and Latin.

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 History and Latin (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
  • Language work

In Year 2 (for core courses)

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Language work

In Year 3

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Unseen language translation
  • Seminars
  • Film Viewings
  • Workshops
  • Projects

In Year 4

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Unseen language translation
  • Seminars
  • Film Viewings
  • Workshops
  • Research Project

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 125750
Year 222780
Year 315850
Year 410900

Assessment methods and strategies

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)

  • Coursework
  • Class tests
  • Essays
  • Written Examinations

In Year 2 (for core courses)

  • Coursework
  • Class tests
  • Tutorial logbook
  • Essays
  • Written Examinations

In Year 3

  • Essays
  • Class tests
  • Written Examinations
  • Coursework
  • Logbook/Seminar work
  • Group Exercise

In Year 4

  • Dissertation
  • Essays
  • Class tests
  • Written Examinations
  • Coursework
  • Logbook/Seminar work
  • 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 155045
Year 258042
Year 365035
Year 4201070

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.