Ancient material religion

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

Research in ancient material religion involves studying the material, visual and other sensory aspects of ancient cults and rituals, including sacred objects (e.g. statues of divinities, votive offerings, curse tablets), temple buildings and sanctuaries, and human and animal bodies. Ancient material religion is an interdisciplinary research area which draws on material and approaches from archaeology, art history, ancient literature and reception studies, as well as digital humanities and religious studies.

The Department of Classical Studies is the home of The Baron Thyssen Centre for the Study of Ancient Material Religion, which supports activities and research projects in the areas of Greek, Etruscan and Roman material religion, often working in collaboration with the Department of Religious Studies.

The expertise of current staff spans a wide range of ancient material religion topics, including votive offerings, sensory approaches to ritual, the material culture of death and burial, the archaeology of Etruscan sacred spaces, and the impact of classical antiquity on later religions.

Applications for projects in any area that corresponds to the research interests of one or more members of staff are welcome; interaction with the School’s other research areas is also encouraged.

If you would like to join us as a full- or part-time research student, please contact us for an informal preliminary discussion. 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).

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and an MA with a minimum grade of merit. If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

  • Votive offerings
  • Sensory experiences of ancient religion
  • The archaeology of sanctuaries and pilgrimage
  • Ritual clothing and fabrics
  • The impact of classical antiquity on later religions

Current/recent research projects

  • Sensing the Oracle: An Arboreal Key to Intersensoriality at Dodona
  • The Archaeology of Magic in Roman Britain
  • Amuletic objects in late antique Italy and Sicily
  • The Social Significance of Curse Tablets in the Latin West
  • Ritual and Identity: British Collections of Bronze Figurines from First-Millennium-BC pre-Roman Italy

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Votive offerings

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Dr Jasmine Hunter Evans and Dr Marchella Ward
Email: FASS-ClassicalStudies-Enquiries
Phone: +44 (0)1908 653247

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.