About the course
The MPhil in Classical Archaeology is designed for those interested in continuing to a doctorate in Classical archaeology, and for those with experience in other areas of classical studies wishing to develop an understanding of the material culture.
The MPhil combines the flexibility of the MSt in Classical Archaeology, which allows you to choose from a wide range of broad periods - from Prehistoric Aegean through Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and various Roman periods to Later Antiquity - and detailed options, with the opportunity to research a topic of your choice in the form of a 25,000-word thesis.
In the first year, at least one period option must be chosen, and one subject option, while the choice for the third option can be from either group. You may also be allowed to study an unlisted topic within Classical archaeology, or directly related to it, provided that the topic is appropriate and teaching is available, or a subject from among those offered in a number of cognate disciplines. In the second year, you take a fourth taught subject from within Classical archaeology, and work on your thesis.
You will have a departmental advisor, normally your MPhil thesis supervisor in your main area of interest, who may also provide some of your teaching but will advise on option choices and monitor overall progress. Each member of the academic staff in Classical archaeology offers a different subject in his or her areas of specialism in each of the first two terms, so students can normally choose from about eight different subjects each term, covering major topics from the Bronze Age to the Late Roman period.
Not all courses listed will be available every year. Teaching is mainly through small-group tutorials or classes of usually one to five students, for which you will prepare short essays on a weekly basis, supplemented by a wide range of lecture courses and graduate seminars.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the School of Archaeology 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 School of Archaeology.
The three subject options are examined by pairs of pre-set essays of up to 5,000 words, submitted early in the following term, and the period paper, which is the focus of the final term of the first year, is assessed by written three-hour examination at the end of that term. The thesis subject is decided by the end of the first year, with any fieldwork taking place in the long vacation, and the research and writing occupy the second and third terms of the second year. There is also a compulsory viva voce examination for each year of the course, which is held in week 9 of Trinity Term.
Most graduates from the MPhil in Classical Archaeology continue to further degree programmes in Classical Archaeology either at Oxford or at leading universities elsewhere, predominantly in the UK and the USA. Others find careers in education, museums, commercial archaeology and the heritage industry.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the faculty
Greek and/or Roman History MSt
Greek and/or Roman History MPhil
Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature MSt
Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature MPhil
Late Antique and Byzantine Studies MSt
Late Antique and Byzantine Studies MPhil
Ancient Philosophy MSt
Ancient History DPhil
Classical Languages and Literature DPhil
All graduate courses offered by the School of Archaeology
All graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Classics
Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in Classical archaeology or related fields (eg Classics, ancient history).
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0. However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or above.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Evidence of training in ancient and relevant modern languages would be an advantage.
- Relevant publications are not expected, but may add to the strength of an application.
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
English language requirement
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
|TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490)||110||Listening: 22|
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
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
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The School of Archaeology provides computer rooms for the use of all graduate students, with 24-hour access. This has a mixture of both Windows and Mac machines offering the usual range of software, while a number of computers provide specialist GIS and mapping-related software.
The School of Archaeology has a wide-range of digital facilities, including desktop imaging and manipulation for publication and dissertation/thesis production such as full-colour scanning of slides, negatives, maps and other paper plan originals.
Students in Classical Archaeology also have access to networked computers in the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies. There is a small library in the Institute and a searchable catalogue is available on-line.
The Sackler Library, a world-class library for archaeology, classics, and art history, is situated between the Institute of Archaeology, Ioannou Centre and the Ashmolean Museum, and is the central facility; this provides for most student needs. The School has close ties with the Ashmolean Museum, the collections of which, including the Cast Gallery of Classical Sculpture, contribute to graduate teaching.
The School of Archaeology has lecture and seminar rooms, and a common room. There is also a small library at the Institute of Archaeology on Beaumont Street, while lectures and graduate seminars in Classical archaeology are also held in the nearby Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, where there is a further common room.
Graduate students also run their own organisation (Graduate Archaeology at Oxford) which provides further skills seminars, a mentoring programme, social events and a very successful conference series. This provides many opportunities for you to develop your skills, present your research and develop ideas for the next stage of your career.
The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the school's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2021-22
Annual Course fees
|Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,|
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
|Overseas (including EU)||£25,900|
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.
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.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of 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.
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 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the MPhil in Classical Archaeology:
How to apply
You may find it useful to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 300 words
You should provide a personal statement of no more than 300 words, explaining in English why you want to study this particular course and focusing on academic rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
A clearly set out and well-documented research proposal (of up to two pages) in English can be also included as a single, combined document with your statement under a sub-heading.
This will be assessed for:
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- your reasons for applying
- the coherence of the proposal
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Two essays, a maximum of 2,500 words each
Academic written work in English is required. This can be undergraduate essays or excerpts from a longer work such as chapters from a dissertation. An excerpt should be prefaced by a note which puts it in context.
Please note that this course does not allow the submission of one longer piece of work instead of the two essays.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes. It is not necessary that the topic(s) of the work relate directly to Classical archaeology.
This will be assessed for ability to assess evidence, derive logical conclusions, and write in a scholarly and lucid manner.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic preferred
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.
Academic references are generally preferred. One professional reference is acceptable, but in cases where more than one such reference is sought you should contact the department to explain why this is necessary.
Your references will support academic achievement, and potential for graduate study and research.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.
Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.
Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).