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Digital and spatial classics

Studying digital classics with The Open University

Digital and spatial classics is a rapidly growing discipline at the OU with connections across Arts, as well as to a wide range of international higher education institutions. With external funding from various government agencies and commercial bodies, and collaborating with major international partners, the Digital and Spatial Classics Research Group has been instrumental in building transferable tools and establishing a set of international standards for exploring and visualising the ancient world online.

Challenging the prevailing cartographic vision of places as dots on a map, the Hestia project experimented with innovative interdisciplinary methods and digital tools to investigate the forms of space within, and the spatial form of, Herodotus’s Histories.

The Pelagios Network links data from international archives and museums in creating a world wide web of antiquity; it has also created an open source platform (called Recognito) for enabling researchers and students to digitally enrich texts, images and databases without the need to learn code. The Digital Periegesis project draws on both initiatives to explore Pausanias’ Description of Greece, and the ‘thickness’ of that description, as Pausanias moves through both space and time to tell the story of Greek culture.

These methods and technologies are transforming the cultural capital of the ancient world online, the way that information about the ancient world is found and can be used, and how the past is conceived.

If you would like to join us as a full- or part-time research student, in an area that corresponds to the research interests of one or more members of staff, please contact us for an informal preliminary discussion (details below). A well-thought-out research proposal which sets out specific research questions and your strategies for addressing them, and which outlines the originality of your topic or approach, will enhance your chances of admission.

We are always glad to offer advice before application (for example, on how your project might enhance existing work in the field; what facilities you would need; what ancient and/or modern language ability you need for your project; and how you could participate in the discipline’s research culture and engage with students in other universities).

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

BA with a minimum grade of 2:1 (or equivalent), (or equivalent), MA

Potential research projects

  • Digital classics
  • Ancient geography
  • Network analysis
  • Historical GIS

Current/recent research projects

  • Towards a participatory commons for historical research
  • Crowdsourcing, participant digitisation and the geo-location of historical materials 
  • Elearning for ancient languages
  • Linked data for cultural change in Roman Spain
  • Integrating Linked Data Resources with Existing Research Methodologies in Classics and Related Disciplines

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.