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Ancient Civilisations (MRes)

This offers students interested the ancient world the opportunity to study various aspects of the history, archaeology, and culture of diverse ancient civilisations from ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia, the Bronze Age Aegean and Neolithic in the Near East to ancient China.

Request Information How to Apply
Contact Email: l.steel@uwtsd.ac.uk
Contact Name: Dr Louise Steel

Tuition Fees 2021/22:
Home: £7,500
Overseas (distance/online): £10,000
Overseas (on-campus): £15,000
Fees are for the whole course

Why choose this course?

  1. An opportunity to develop your own personal research interests in the ancient world.
  2. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the Neolithic and Bronze Age of the Near East, ancient Egyptian religion, Chinese religion, the art of Mesopotamia and the Near East, as well as the Bronze Age Aegean.
  3. You will learn how to interrogate various interpretations of the past that have been put forward by specialists and use these as a framework for you own interpretations.
  4. You’ll gain research skills and in-depth subject knowledge which will provide a sound basis for further postgraduate study at MPhil or PhD
  5. Flexibility in learning: the MRes is available both on campus and as a distance learning course. You can choose to study from the comfort of your own home using our VLE (virtual learning environment) and the course content and reading material we provide or in a more traditional classroom environment (also supported by VLE).

What you will learn

Course Overview

The Ancient Civilisations (MRes) offers students whose interests centre on the study of ancient world (Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bronze Age Aegean and ancient China) the opportunity to take a specialist research-intensive degree tailored to those interests and to pursue their own independent research to a further extent than in an MA.

The MRes is suited for students with a proven penchant for independent research. The MRes includes 2 taught modules worth 60 credits, but the main focus of the degree is on a longer piece of individual research (30,000 words). Applicants are required to discuss their proposed research with the School before application, and the proposed research must be in one of the areas of supervision offered by the staff from ancient Egypt, the Neolithic Near East and Bronze Age Aegean, Cyprus or Levant, Mesopotamia and ancient China.

The Ancient Civilisations (MRes) begins with a specialist Research Methodology module introducing students to the multiple sources, materials, theories and methodologies for the study of ancient world. Students then have the opportunity to choose one module focusing on an aspect of ancient civilisation of their choice (religion in the Neolithic and Bronze Age East Mediterranean, art from Meopotamia to the Aegean, Egyptian or Chines religion). The choice of taught modules gives students not only the opportunity to explore areas that they might not have had the opportunity to study before, but also to specialise in a specific aspect of the ancient world in preparation for the MRes dissertation.

The dissertation is the greater part of the Ancient Civilisations (MRes), as students have the opportunity to conceive and research a topic of their own design of greater length and depth than the MA dissertation.

This enables those students with a greater preference for independent research, and perhaps with a clearer sense at the start of the programme of what they would like to base their research upon, to undertake in-depth research within a structured programme of study. It will also provide students with an excellent introductory pathway into further study at MPhil or PhD level.

Module Topics

HPAH7011: Theory and Methodology for the Study of the Ancient World provides students with a critical understanding of the context of the ancient world from historical and archaeological perspectives and enables students to critically assess and evaluate differing theoretical and methodological approaches to interpreting the ancient world. (compulsory)

HPAH7014 Spaces, Places and Objects in Ancient Mediterranean Religions examines archaeological evidence for cult practices and religious activity in the ancient Mediterranean, drawing upon case studies from the Neolithic in the Near East through to Bronze Age Aegean, Cyprus and the Levant. Students interrogate the materiality of cult spaces and objects to interpret how an integrated approach to space and object can lead to a reconstruction of ceremonial cult practices. (optional)

HPAH7015 Ancient Egyptian Religion provides students with an in-depth understanding of the theory and practice of ancient Egyptian religion and magic. The module uses both material culture and textual sources from the Naqada Period until the end of the Roman era (4000 BC – AD 400). to develop a critically informed understanding of the complex interrelationship between ancient Egyptian religious thought and other aspects of ancient Egyptian society. (optional) 

HPAH7016: Art and Representation in the Ancient Near East explores ancient art from Mesopotamia to the Aegean. It enables students to critically evaluate how ancient societies perceived of and presented themselves and their environment in a variety of art forms and how these images are received and represented in the modern world. It draws upon art historical and anthropological definitions and interpretations of art. (optional) 

HPAH7017 Religions in China, 1500 BCE – 500 CE examines ancient Chinese religion as a social, political and spiritual force within the fabric of ancient Chinese state and society. Students explore key themes and concepts in the study of ancient and medieval Chinese religion using Chinese texts in English translation. The aim is for students to develop a sophisticated understanding of ancient Chinese religion and its philosophical underpinnings. (optional)

Please note, modules alter a little from year to year, owing to staff changes, curriculum development and recommendations following validation.


The modules are assessed by a variety of assessment methods: short essays (2,500 words), longer essays (4,000-5,000 words), object analyses, comparative analyses, short assignments, oral assessments and one 15-000-word dissertation.

Key Information

Entry Criteria

Applicants are expected to have a good first degree (a first or upper second), although every application is considered in its own merit, so places may be offered on the basis of professional qualification and relevant experiences.

The traditional requirement for entry onto a Level 7 programme is a 2.1 or 1st class undergraduate degree. In addition, the School encourages students with an equivalent and appropriate professional qualification or significant and relevant professional experience to apply.

Applicants are required to discuss their proposed research with the Programme Director before application, and the proposed research must be in one of the areas of supervision outlined above.

Proficiency in English of candidates whose first language is not Welsh or English is normally evidenced by a minimum IELTS score (or equivalent) of 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in each component.

Career Opportunities

The programme provides a broad foundation for postgraduate work, by laying particular stress on the methodologies and research tools needed for independent advanced study, thus acting as training for students who intend to undertake an MPhil or PhD.

Additional Costs

Students may spend up to £300 per year on books and additional related materials.

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Bursary / Scholarship Information

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Bursaries and Scholarships section.