About the course
Both in Classical languages and literature, and in ancient history, the DPhil programme is a research degree intended to make it possible for the successful candidate to aspire to a career in research and teaching at university level anywhere in the world where the Classical subjects are studied.
The DPhil takes the form of the composition of a substantial dissertation, of up to 100,000 words, based on new research on a subject of your choice. You will be appointed a supervisor or supervisors with relevant expertise, who will support you throughout your doctoral work, beginning with the formulation of the topic and ending with the final examination.
The best dissertations are published, many in the Oxford University Press series of Classical Monographs which exists for this purpose.
The vision of the DPhil as a necessary stage of an academic career, following on from master's-level education and preparing for postdoctoral work and beyond, is reflected in five other ways:
Doctoral students are required to set the topics of their individual specialisation in a larger understanding of developments in the field across the world.
They are encouraged to pursue a diversity of scholarly interests on the side of working on their doctoral dissertation, so as to start building a larger portfolio of specialities. They may produce articles or review books in areas somewhat different from that of their dissertation, and towards the end of their doctoral work may begin to contemplate a postdoctoral project.
The Classics Faculty assists doctoral students in continuing to develop necessary research skills, and acquiring or improving knowledge of relevant ancient and modern languages. Competence in Latin and/or Greek is an admission requirement.
Doctoral students can be trained and given experience (with mentoring) in undergraduate teaching of several different kinds, eg class, lecture, tutorial.
There are other structures, within the Classics Faculty, the Humanities Division and the wider University, to help with career-development and with academic placement.
Finally, it is fully recognised that some students will choose not to pursue a professional career in Classics, and the structures mentioned in the points above are tailored to their needs too. The experience of the Classics DPhil programmes is intended to be personally fulfilling and intellectually enriching in itself, and the cognitive skills required are highly transferable to other walks of life.
Examples of recent DPhil thesis titles include:
|Thesis title||Supervisor name(s)|
|Challenging Mithraism: a revisionist account||Professor J Elsner|
|Timor et Luctus: The Mechanics of the Roman Republican Army in Battle||Dr J Prag|
|The historical development of the Greek city in the Roman period in regards to ideology and identity formation||Dr C Kuhn|
|Representing the Dynasty in Flavian Rome: The Case of Josephus' Jewish War||Professor M Goodman|
|Greek Religious Life In Roman Asia Minor||Dr P Thonemann|
|Language, Nomos, and Narrative in Greek Historiography||Professor R Thomas|
|An epigraphic investigation into the local experience of fifth-century B.C. Athenian imperialism, offering an alternative to diachronic studies||Dr P Thonemann|
|Music, Spectacle And Society In Ancient Rome, 167 BC - c. 138 AD||Professor N Purcell|
|Structures, Conceptualisation, And Response: Differentiating The Interactions Of Non-Italian Peoples Of The West With Rome, CA 265-130 BC||Dr J Prag|
|Beauty and the Gods in Archaic Greece||Professor J Elsner/Dr C Metcalf|
|Athenians abroad in the sixth and fifth centuries BC||Professor R Thomas|
|The interactions in the religious mentalities and ritual practices of Phoenicians, Greeks and indigenous peoples in Sicily from VI to IV century BC||Dr J Prag/Dr J Quinn|
|Hope, Fear, and Conceptions of the Future in the Early Principate||Dr K Clarke/Dr A Clark|
|The relationship between territory, governance &agency in the Roman world: a cognitive study of 'res publica' & its reception in political thought||Dr A Clark|
|Aiolian Ethnogenesis||Professor R Thomas|
|Religious Life of Classical and Hellenistic Rhodes||Professor R Parker|
The faculty welcomes applications for part-time study on the DPhil. Part-time students are fully integrated into the research culture of the Classics Faculty and afforded all the same opportunities and support as full-time students.
The faculty appreciates that part-time research students will have non-standard attendance and work patterns. Although there is no requirement to reside in Oxford, part-time research students must be able to commit to attendance in Oxford at least once a week during Weeks 0 to 9 of each term, in order to meet with their supervisor, participate in research seminars and undertake skills training.
It is not possible to study for the DPhil in Ancient History by distance learning.
When details were last collected on graduate destinations, the faculty found that an unusually high percentage of their successful DPhil students, 56%, were in university teaching or research posts five years after finishing their doctorates. Others go into a variety of occupations, including teaching, publishing, administration, business and other professions.
Other courses in this area
- MSt in Greek and/or Roman History
- MPhil in Greek and/or Roman History
- DPhil in Classical Languages and Literature
- MSt in Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature
- MPhil in Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature
- MSt in Classical Archaeology
- MPhil in Classical Archaeology
- MSt in Ancient Philosophy
- MSt in Women's Studies
Changes to the course
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in classics or a similar course of academic study with substantial course components in the area of ancient history.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.
You will normally be expected to have a master's degree in a relevant subject with scores at the same level as first-class or high upper second-class honours.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
You should demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge of ancient languages appropriate to your intended research.
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
Publications are not normally expected at this stage, but you should mention any publications that you have produced.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Faculty of Classics to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Classics and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
- Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Classics
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
Oxford has academic resources which are among the best in the world for Ancient History. The Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies offers various facilities including many workstations, PCs, Macs, a photocopier, laser printing and scanning facilities, a common room and a reading room. Seminar talks by visiting speakers and many other academic activities take place in the centre. It is also the base for the various research projects based in the faculty.
The faculty is fortunate in having two world-class research libraries close at hand, the Bodleian and the Sackler Library. The Sackler Library is an open-shelf lending library indispensable to anyone studying ancient history, archaeology and art; it is also extremely useful for those studying literature or philology.
Your supervisor will be drawn from the Oxford Classics Faculty. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise, the faculty presented the largest number of academics in UK Classics (71). 47% of the submission was rated 4* (world-leading) and 34% 3* (internationally excellent), giving the faculty by far the highest quantity of 4* or 3* research in UK Classics.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Applicants to this course may also be eligible to apply for other scholarship and funding opportunities, including the Ertegun Scholarship Programme. In order to be considered for this award you will need to complete the scholarships section of the course application form and submit additional supporting material. The programme’s website provides more details about the application process as well as any eligibility criteria which apply.
Annual fees for entry in 2019-20
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£7,730|
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£3,865|
The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.
For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on the DPhil in Ancient History:
- Balliol College
- Brasenose College
- Campion Hall
- Christ Church
- Corpus Christi College
- Exeter College
- Jesus College
- Kellogg College
- Lady Margaret Hall
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Magdalen College
- Merton College
- New College
- Oriel College
- The Queen's College
- Regent's Park College
- St Anne's College
- St Benet's Hall
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Hilda's College
- St Hugh's College
- St John's College
- Somerville College
- University College
- Wadham College
- Wolfson College
- Worcester College
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on the DPhil in Ancient History:
How to apply
You are encouraged to contact the department prior to submitting an application to discuss the course content, teaching, assessment and to ask any questions. You are also encouraged to approach specific supervisors and explain why you want to come and work in their particular field of study.
The department recommends that you contact a potential supervisor(s) before applying. However, please do keep in mind that prospective supervisors are not in a position to make decisions about admission.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Up to 1,200 words, typically two to three pages
The research proposal should describe your proposed thesis topic in detail, explain why it is important and worthwhile, situate it within the existing research in the area in question, and provide a basic account of methodology as well as a provisional timetable.
The proposal should be written in English. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of any thesis project proposed
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques.
Your statement should focus on your academic qualifications to the extent that they are relevant to your academic plans rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
Two essays of 2,000 words each
You should submit two relevant academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
Written work will be assessed for understanding of problems in the area; relevant use of primary evidence; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; powers of expression.
Surveys of published scholarship are less informative to assessors, although a judicious summary of a complex problem may be helpful.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be academic
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
All references are expected to be academic. If you believe there is good reason for you to include a professional reference, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies before you apply.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.