Ancient History


A major in Ancient History invites you to discover the civilisations of ancient Greece and Rome, using their myths, images, inscriptions, artefacts, written history and literature as evidence. You can study topics as diverse as political systems, religion, law, mythology and the world of late antiquity. We offer opportunities to read (in translation) ancient epic, drama and love poetry against their social and historical setting and to trace how narratives have been interpreted and reinvented by later ages, including Hollywood.

The major progresses from foundation units in your junior year to senior-intermediate units treating specific topics in depth, then senior-advanced units offering training in disciplinary method or an opportunity to focus on a key period or theme. Our aim is that on attaining your major you will be able to frame and answer historical questions and be a free-thinking, independent historian of the Classical past.

The world is full of monuments and memories of Classical Greece and Rome. A major in Ancient History equips you to meet them in their ancient and modern setting and to understand their historical and cultural importance both then and now.

For more information, visit the Department of Classics and Ancient History website.

Study plan

A major in Ancient History requires 36 senior credit points including at least 24 credit points from Core units of study of which 6 must be at 3000 level.

Junior units of study (1000 level):
You complete 12 junior credit points in Ancient History to gain an understanding of three different approaches, historiographic, archaeological and literary, to the cultures and histories of ancient Greece and Rome.

Other pathways to an Ancient History major are possible. Because of its close disciplinary affinity, we welcome students who have completed 12 junior credit points of History as well as those who have combined one junior unit in Ancient History with a junior unit from History, Philosophy, Archaeology, Latin or Ancient Greek.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level):
Senior-intermediate (2000 level) units introduce a series of topics which are more closely focused in area and usually entail a particular disciplinary approach. In any year, you can choose to specialise in a field (ancient Greece or Rome), a discipline (e.g. history or literary criticism) or a chronological period. Some units invite thematic comparison between cultures and periods, others require you to consider the impact of the ancient world on subsequent historical situations. All senior-intermediate Ancient History units require you to consider issues in their historical context and how that context might have changed over time. Some units are highly appropriate for those intending to teach Ancient History to HSC level.

At 2000 level students can follow chronological pathways which provide the grand narrative of Classical History; they can pursue an interest in ancient literature through genre models; or they can study the interplay between the past and the present through units which look at the reception of the classical world.

The department offers up to four 2000 level units each year. Units are repeated on a two or three year cycle. You also have an opportunity to study up to two 2000 level units taught by other departments. These are listed as electives in the unit of study table.

At senior-advanced (3000 level) units entail a close study of either the idea and discipline of history or a seminal period or theme in Ancient History. They will require you to think independently about a set topic and to explore the problems and issues it raises.

Graduate opportunities

Sydney Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in government departments at all levels, and major private sector consultancies and corporations, locally and overseas. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a range of subject areas that prepare graduates for careers in administration, education, business research, marketing, media, management consultancy, public relations, gallery and museum curatorship, hospitality and tourism, community and welfare. Our graduates are proficient in research and inquiry, and demonstrate personal and intellectual autonomy, and ethical, social and professional understanding, qualities sought after by leading employers all over the world.

Further study for major

Eligible candidates may proceed to an Honours year in the Bachelor of Arts, or apply for admission to a rich postgraduate program in the humanities and social sciences, comprising advanced learning and professional courses. Master degrees include capstone projects ranging from internships with government and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas, the gallery and museum sector, and leading media organisations, to opportunities for independent research projects which prepare students for higher degrees by research.

Related subject areas

Archaeology, Greek (Ancient), Latin, History, Philosophy

Our courses that offer this major