University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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Ancient History

About the major

A major in Ancient History invites you into the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome, using their myths, images, inscriptions, artefacts, written history and literature as evidence. You can study the ideas, politics and cultures of the Classical world by looking at political systems, religion, law, mythology, slavery, refugees, science and late antiquity. You can read (in translation) ancient epic, drama and poetry in its social and historical contexts and appreciate the impact of these works on later ages (including modern media). You will be encouraged to ask important questions about leadership, democracy and the rule of law, human rights, religions and the role of myths, poetry and story-telling in human communities. You will be inspired to think about how and why history is written.

Our world is full of the memories and monuments of Classical Greece and Rome. Many ideas and concepts that we value were developed by communities whose similarities and differences from our own demand reflection and critique. Your major begins with 1000 level units that lay the foundation by providing key training and skills. You then progress to 2000 and 3000 level units that treat particular themes or periods in detail and develop your skills in the discipline of history. A major in Ancient History is designed to equip you to understand the historical and cultural importance of the Classical world and to evaluate its legacy.

The major opens careers in government, law, policy, teaching, curating, tourism and the media among others.

Requirements for completion

The Ancient History major and minor requirements are listed in the Ancient History unit of study table.

Learning Outcomes

No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate an extensive knowledge of the society, culture and politics of ancient Greece and Rome.
2 Read, evaluate, and interpret the diverse body of evidence available for the study of the ancient world, such as literature, inscriptions, coins, papyri, artworks and architecture.
3 Evaluate these different types of evidence individually and in combination with each other, using a range of discipline-appropriate concepts and methodologies in the service of integrated historical and cultural analysis.
4 Demonstrate the ability to interpret ancient sources, both textual and material, and an understanding of how they provide insight into the history and culture of the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds.
5 Examine and solve complex historical problems through research and critical analysis with personal integrity, both independently and collaboratively.
6 Construct and defend a valid argument using appropriate sources.
7 Demonstrate an understanding of, and appreciation for, difference and diversity.
8 Apply the theories and methods of other disciplines to their own work and utilise the skills and knowledge of ancient historians to address issues encountered in an interdisciplinary context.

Advanced coursework

How do the perspectives you bring from your studies in History, Philosophy, Gender and Cultural Studies, Archaeology and Ancient History uniquely frame and explain a contemporary issue? The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI) will enhance the skills and capabilities students have acquired over the course of majors undertaken within the School’s diverse departments.

Students will learn how to apply research training from SOPHI’s unique disciplines, develop an interdisciplinary capacity with methodology, pose problems and consider their solutions in scenarios sourced from History, Philosophy, Archaeology, Ancient History, or Gender and Cultural Studies. Emphasis is placed on developing the ability to apply methods of philosophical, historical, cultural, gender or archaeological inquiry to contemporary problem-solving and to communicate findings to non-academic and culturally diverse audiences via emerging digital media.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Ancient History advanced coursework units of study page.


An extra year of Ancient History allows students to specialise in a particular field and to write a major piece of research. The honours year can be the culmination of your study of Ancient History or a pathway to further research in our postgraduate program. It develops worthwhile transferable skills of analysis and critical argumentation. Our program consists of two seminars and a thesis of 20,000 words on a topic decided by you in consultation with your supervisor.

Full details of the program, its prerequisites and its relationship to other majors taught may be found on the Department of Classics and Ancient History website.

Honours admission requirements
If you are considering an honours year in Ancient History, it is best to seek early advice on all the pathways open to you and the skills you will need to do your best.

Admission to Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Ancient History with an average of 70 percent or above.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major.

The Honours Coordinator can advise you on acceptable equivalents to our standard requirements.

Ancient History at honours level requires you to have learned at least the basics of the ancient language most relevant to your thesis topic. Normally students are expected to have successfully completed two semesters of Latin or Ancient Greek.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Ancient History honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators may be found at the Department of Classics and Ancient History website.

The Department of Classics and Ancient History is administered by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).