Classics and Ancient History PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

We offer promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in a range of areas across the disciplines of Classics and Ancient History (including Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Egyptology).

Times Higher Education ranked us among the top five departments of Classics in the country for our performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

 Ruth Leger

Ruth Léger

“The highlight of my time at Birmingham has been the active postgraduate life and community within the School of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology. It is a group of people working on similar projects, however with very different interests. This makes our weekly meetings at Rosetta Forum very interesting and helpful. Whenever you have a problem, there is always someone around who understands what you are going through and is able to help you out.”
Ask Ruth a question

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a thesis of up to 40,000 words. In contrast the PhD, the most advanced research degree, leads to a thesis of up to 80,000 words. Both programmes will be supported by expert academic supervision.

These degrees have no taught components, but relevant taught modules may be attended by arrangement to develop appropriate research skills, this includes the study of ancient languages. Subject to programme requirements and the approval of your supervisor, you can access training in:

  • Greek
  • Latin
  • Ancient Egyptian
  • Languages of the Ancient Near East

We also encourage you to attend conferences on subjects related to your research interests and to participate in our lively interdisciplinary seminar series (some of which are run by our postgraduates). We enable advanced research students to broaden their skills through appropriate training in teaching skills and, where possible, through offering the chance to gain experience in teaching. In addition, our annual postgraduate colloquia provide training in oral presentation skills and the professional dissemination of research within an interdisciplinary environment.

Distance learning

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Why study this course

  • Times Higher Education ranked us among the top five departments of Classics in the country for our performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise, with 38% of our research rated as ‘world-leading’', and a further 43% rated as ‘internationally excellent’.
  • Birmingham's Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,270 full-time; £2,135 part-time*
  • International: £16,320 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2018.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Funding opportunities

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate funding database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Students applying for the MA by Research programme may be eligible to apply for a postgraduate loan to help finance their studies. For those starting in the 2017/18 academic year, these government-backed student loans will provide up to £10,280 for Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Please note: Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by the end of June.

Additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

The following summary indicates our principal areas of research expertise. Please view our staff profiles for further possible research topics and also research opportunities through the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.

Classics

Greek and Roman epigram; ancient popular culture; receptions of antiquity; classics and film. Contact: Dr Gideon Nisbet; Email g.nisbet@bham.ac.uk

Catullus; Augustan poetry; epic of all periods; reception of antiquity; classics and film. Contact: Dr Elena Theodorakopoulos; Email: e.m.theodorakopoulos@bham.ac.uk

Roman literary topography; classical landscape and aesthetics; Republican and Augustan literature (esp. Horace, Livy); post-classical reception of Rome; reception of Alexander the Great. Contact: Professor Diana Spencer; Email: d.j.spencer@bham.ac.uk

Greek literature, especially poetry and philosophical literature, e.g. dialogues; Greek drama; ancient oratory and rhetoric; the intellectual culture of Athenian democracy; Greek epigram; the literature of Greek mythology and its reception. Contact: Dr Niall Livingstone; Email: n.r.livingstone@bham.ac.uk

Greek History

Greek History – Classical and Hellenistic history, with particular expertise in the politics and political structures of the Greek Mediterranean world. Contact:  Dr Andrew Bayliss; Email: a.bayliss@bham.ac.uk

Greek History – Classical and Hellenistic history, particularly inter-city relations. Contact:  Dr William Mack; Email: w.mack@bham.ac.uk

Roman History

Roman Republic; political life; Roman oratory; Cicero; cultural memory at Rome; the City of Rome. Contact: Dr Henriette van der Blom; Email: H.VanDerBlom@bham.ac.uk

Later Roman Empire; North African urbanism; early Christianity. Contact: Dr Gareth Sears; Email: g.m.sears@bham.ac.uk

Roman Republic and Early Imperial socio-political history; Roman imperialism; the nature of political power; political ideology; diplomacy; urban and architectural space at Rome. Contact: Dr Hannah Cornwell; Email h.e.cornwell@bham.ac.uk

Roman history - Roman religion; the history of scholarship on Roman religion; divine names; relationships between Roman paganism, Judaism and Christianity; Roman thinking about nature; intellectual culture in the Roman empire; receptions of antiquity. Contact: Dr Ailsa Hunt; Email: A.Hunt.1@bham.ac.uk

Archaeology

Classical Archaeology – Greek and Roman art and architecture, architectural decoration, urbanism, sanctuaries and material culture; archaeology of the Late Roman provinces; current fieldwork at Carnuntum (Austria). Contact: Dr Dominik Maschek; Email: d.maschek@bham.ac.uk 

Classical archaeology; Greek prehistory; Bronze Age Macedonia; current research at Mycenae, Knossos, Assiros and Servia. Contact: Dr Ken Wardle; Email: k.a.wardle@bham.ac.uk

Roman Archaeology; Roman Britain; Post-Roman Britain. Contact: Dr Roger White; Email: r.h.white@bham.ac.uk

Classical Archaeology - Greek and Roman art, architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism; Maritime Archaeology - harbour infrastructures and shipwrecks; computer applications in Classical Archaeology; reception of the Classical past in 20th century urbanism; current fieldwork at Delos (underwater survey). Contact: Dr Mantha Zarmakoupi; Email: m.zarmakoupi@bham.ac.uk

For further research interests in archaeology, please visit the MA by Research/PhD Archaeology course listing.

Egyptology

Egyptology – history and culture of the Third Intermediate Period and the Late Period; archaeology of Memphis; history of Egyptology; theoretical approaches towards Egyptian society and economy. Contact: Dr Claus Jurman; Email: c.jurman@bham.ac.uk

Egyptology – religion; settlement archaeology; temple architecture; cultural contacts with the Mediterranean world; current fieldwork at Elephantine. Contact: Dr Martin Bommas; Email: m.bommas@bham.ac.uk

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology

Birmingham's Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Many of our postgraduates enter roles for which their programme has especially prepared them, such as museum and heritage activities and archaeological posts. Elsewhere, a range of professions are undertaken by our graduates, from librarianship and teaching to accountancy. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: AC archaeology; University of Birmingham; National Trust; and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.