Classics and Ancient History PhD / MPhil

The University of Liverpool has pioneered the study of the ancient world for more than 130 years and has an international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. Ancient History and Classics have been taught in Liverpool since 1881. In 1904 the University established the Institute of Archaeology, the first centre for the academic study of the methods and practice of Archaeology alongside Egyptology and Classical Archaeology in the UK.

Why study with us?

As soon as I arrived I was welcomed into a vibrant and active research community, invited to participate in a range of seminar programmes, and given the invaluable opportunity to teach on a number of undergraduate modules.

Elaine Sanderson - Classics and Ancient History PhD student
  • 79%

    of our research in Classics was judged as 'world leading' or 'internationally outstanding' REF (2014).

  • 42

    academic and research staff engaging in world-class research in the fields of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology.

  • 60

    registered PhD students - our department hosts the largest and most varied postgraduate research community of all academic departments.

Overview

Research in Classics and Ancient History at Liverpool centres on the study of ancient Greek society, culture, politics, philosophy, economy, religion and medicine, ancient Greek and Latin literature, the literary cultures of the Roman empire, the politics, economy and administration of ancient Rome, and receptions of Classical antiquity in the modern world.

The Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology is internationally reputed for its world-class interdisciplinary research in diverse fields ranging from the origins of humanity and Old World prehistory to the cultures, languages and texts of the late antiquity and the archaeology of the historical periods.

Expertise in Classics and Ancient History stretches from the archaic Greek world through to late antiquity with particular strengths in the study of Ancient Greek society, culture, politics, religion and medicine, philosophy, Ancient Greek and Latin literature, the literary cultures of the Roman empire, the politics, economy and administration of Ancient Rome, and receptions of Classical antiquity in the modern world. Our long-standing research into the economies of the Greek, Egyptian and Roman worlds create a strong interdisciplinary research cluster on Ancient Economies combining expertise from Classics & Ancient History and Archaeology. 

With individual specialisms ranging from papyrology and epigraphy to digital humanities, and from literary analysis to the interrogation of visual and material culture, as a group we ask fundamental questions, challenge orthodoxies and established narratives, and strive to be innovative, bold and open in our investigations into the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

With 42 academic & research staff and over 60 postgraduate researchers ACE forms one of the largest hubs for the academic study of the human past in the UK.

We welcome research proposals that match those of our researchers and that fall within and beyond around research themes.

Research themes

Our research themes are: 

  • Administration and empire: Reconstructing the processes by which power is asserted (and undermined) through administrative offices and officials from the centre to peripheries of the Persian and Roman empires through the fragmentary documentary record
  • Antiquity beyond antiquity: Exploring the complex and continual interplay between antiquity and later periods from the fall of the Roman empire in the west up to the present day: from the translation, adaptation and transformation of ancient texts and artefacts in modern contexts, to the social, cultural, intellectual and political impacts of encounters with the literary and material remains of antiquity
  • Bodies: Examining the body as a locus of human experience and identity in Greco-Roman antiquity, combining insights from sociology, psychology, and medicine and applying Digital Humanities tools to consider the body displayed, dismembered, dissected and in decline
  • Cultural interactions: Investigating the exchange of practices and ideas that occur when people and cultures come into contact with one another through conflict, settlement, and economic exchange across the Greco-Roman world
  • Life cycles and life histories: Following the individual in antiquity from early youth to old age through the material and written record, shedding light on physiological and sociological developments in relation to gender and status within the community, and examining biographies in ancient Greek and Latin literature
  • Literature and power: Examining how literature of different periods and genres engages with questions about the nature of power, facilitates the negotiation of social and political relationships, and supports or subverts political power and ideologies in the Classical world
  • Local and regional economies: Offering ground-up perspectives on economic life in antiquity, from household production through local markets, inter-polis networks and cross-Mediterranean trade, and from production to consumption, with attention to the exploitation and supply of resources, markets and retail
  • Religious experience and belief: Exploring religious practice and belief and the interrelationship between the two across the ancient Mediterranean, with a focus on lived experience and activities often considered on the margins of religious life like medicine, mystery cults and oracles
  • Sympotic culture and literature: Understanding the social, political, economic and philosophical aspects of drinking together in ancient Greece, from the Archaic to Imperial periods, and the role of the symposion in intellectual and literary culture.

Facilities

Our library collection reflects the full range of our expertise in Classics and Ancient History. Students have access to our extensive digital resources, which include dedicated databases for Greek and Latin texts, bibliographical tools, online reference materials, subject-oriented search engines, and specialist books and journals journals held in the Sydney Jones library of the University of Liverpool (open 24/7 during term time).

The Garstang Museum of Archaeology has outstanding archaeological collections including coins, vases, inscriptions and other artefacts from important Classical sites which form the basis for research projects. Collections of papyri and inscriptions are also hosted by the Liverpool World Museum and the Library Special Collections & Archives.

Training is available in a wide range of ancient languages, including Greek, Latin, Egyptian, Coptic, Sumerian and Akkadian. Students can also study modern languages which may be necessary for their research via Liverpool’s flagship Open Languages programme.

We have a dedicated IT suite for Digital Humanities research, including digital mapping, image analysis, photogrammetry and reconstructions. Students interested in using software to analyse either texts or images are encouraged to discuss software and training requirements with us.

The Elizabeth Slater Archaeology Research Laboratories include facilities for environmental, faunal and archaeobotanical studies, trace element and stable isotope analysis, metallography and petrography, and are a valuable resource for students studying ancient Greece and Rome through their material remains.

Our postgraduate research community benefits from funding support made available to PGRs to undertake fieldwork and other forms of primary data collection, attend academic conferences in the UK and abroad, and organize postgraduate research events. In addition to the funding and training opportunities provided by the Liverpool Doctoral College, the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures (HLC) and ACE have dedicated budgets for supporting PGR research and training activities including:

• HLC Postgraduate Research Fund (Postgraduate travel and research expenses: up to £500 per year for full-time/FT PGRs; £250 per year for part-time/PT).

• The Peet Travel Award (up to £500) is available to support travel and associated costs for research into the archaeology and languages of the pre-Classical Mediterranean, including Egypt and the Near East, as well as the archaeology of early Greece and Rome.

• Dedicated, tailored support for PGR applications to external competitive funding schemes (e.g., PGR funding opportunities available through independent bodies such as the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the British Institute at Ankara, the British Schools in Athens and Rome, the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, the Council for British Research in the Levant, the Egypt Exploration Society, etc.)

Research groups

Our Classics and Ancient History research groups provide a dynamic forum for the exchange of new concepts and cutting-edge knowledge produced by staff and postgraduate researchers. This is achieved through our dedicated seminar series which provide opportunities for academic and research staff, and research postgraduates to present their research, develop their research profile, and interact with other leading figures in their fields from the UK and abroad who participate in departmental research events as invited speakers.

• Receptions
• Ancient Religions
• Literary Culture of the Roman Empire
• Ancient Economies

Study options and fees


MPhil / PhD Duration Home/EU Students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,327* (2019) £23,650* ^ (lab based programmes)
£18,000* (non Lab based programmes) (2020).
Part time 4-6 years £2,163.50* (2019) £11,825* (lab based programmes) £9,000* (non Lab based programmes) (2020)

*This fees excludes potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

^Self funded full time international students studying a lab based programme will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

Entry requirements

Applications are welcomed from well qualified graduates who would typically hold a UK first degree or equivalent in the first or 2:1 class, or a 2:2 class degree plus a Masters degree, in a relevant subject.

We welcome applications from within the EU and around the world. You should ensure that your qualifications are equivalent to those required to study for this research degree. See our guidance on international qualifications.

You must also have reached a minimum standard of English and be able to provide evidence of this. See our English language requirements for international students.

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

More about applying for research degrees

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Find a supervisor

Your supervisor is your main source of academic support and mentoring. You'll need to find a supervisor before you start your research degree. It's helpful to identify a supervisor and discuss your research proposal before you apply.

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Related studentships: self-funded and funded PhD projects