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Classical Studies

An image to illustrate studying classical studies with The Open University

Classical Studies staff have expertise in a wide range of subjects and themes from the Greek and Roman world, including: archaeology, art and sculpture; epic, lyric poetry, tragedy and comedy; historiography and philosophy; popular culture and social history; and digital humanities. Our main research areas (or clusters) include:

  • Ancient and modern reception of classical antiquity
  • Digital classics
  • Greek and Latin texts
  • Greek and Roman material culture
  • The ancient body.
The research clusters overlap in important respects and this informs debate and collaboration across themes as well as providing opportunities for exchange with researchers in other subject areas. The department encourages applications for research that is based in any of these clusters, particularly projects that work across clusters. Applicants should normally hold, or be expecting to obtain, a bachelors degree with at least first or upper-second class honours or equivalent qualification, and an MA or research experience or recent publications. Further information can be obtained via the Department (contact details below).
The department’s research has been recognised by funding grants or fellowship awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, JISC , the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, TOPOI: the Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations, and Google. Department members also have leading roles in internationally funded projects such as the Linkeage project in Australia (Classics and Theatre), the European Network of Research in Greek Drama, the Classical Reception Studies Network and EuGeStA (Gender Studies in Antiquity).
The UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) (2014) feedback highlighted the outstanding contributions by the department on the national and international research environment, and we aim to ensure that all our research students have the chance to benefit from and contribute to international debates in their field.

Key facts

  • Current fully funded studentships include the Michael Comber Studentship in Classical Reception (funded jointly with University of Oxford), Faculty studentships, AHRC CHASE PhD studentships, and OU-funded studentships (fees only).
  • Part-time research students are fully integrated into the department research environment, including regular research days and opportunities to attend conferences and present papers.
  • The department hosts the Classical Reception Studies Network, an international collaboration of researchers working on classical reception. 
  • Places are available each year for OU graduate students to attend the intensive summer course held in Epidauros, Greece, by the European Network of Research in Greek Drama.
  • The department hosts New Voices in Classical Reception, a refereed ejournal for early career researchers. The department also hosts Practitioners’ Voices in Classical Reception, a refereed ejournal which discusses through articles, interviews, audio and video media how arts practitioners in the creative industries (including poets, theatre directors and translators) use Greek and Roman texts, images and ideas in their works.
  • The department hosts a suite of digital webmapping resources for exploring the cultural geography of Herodotus’s Histories (the Hestia project), including a visualisation platform for reading texts and maps alongside each other, which can be adapted for use with any other classical author. It is also a major hub for the Pelagios project, which, by linking online resources about ancient places (from both academic projects and major cultural heritage organisations), is transforming how the ancient world can be studied.


The Open University Library is particularly strong in the provision of electronic resources to which research students have access whether working on or off campus.

Research students in classical studies are also encouraged to join the Hellenic or Roman Societies. These societies have a joint library based at the Institute of Classical Studies in London. This is an internationally leading research library. Student membership of either of the societies provides borrowing rights (including postal borrowing).

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Dr Ursula Rothe
+44 (0)1908 653247

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.