The ancient body and the senses

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

Members of the Classical Studies discipline have distinctive expertise in the study of the ancient body and the senses. We interpret these themes in a highly interdisciplinary way, bringing together the approaches of archaeology, anthropology, social sciences, medical humanities, ancient theoretical approaches and classical studies to find ways of using material culture and written evidence alongside each other.

We regard the body and the senses as a way of addressing what we see as a central question for any historical discipline: is the past just like us, and therefore transparent, or entirely other, and therefore unknowable? Where the body and the senses are concerned, we share so many fundamental everyday experiences with the people of the past.Yet studying how people experienced, thought about, treated, manipulated, modified, represented and disposed of their bodies provides a window into ancient societies which were so different from the ones many people live in today.

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

  • Death, disposal, mourning, grief and burial practices
  • Representations of the body in visual or material culture
  • Religion and the body, including votive offerings
  • The senses and sensory experiences
  • Death in Etruria
  • Sex and sexuality in ancient Greece
  • Receptions of the ancient body
  • Dress in the Roman Empire
  • Gender in the ancient world

Current/recent research projects

  • Audience Sensory Experience in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War
  • Sensing the Oracle: An Arboreal Key to Intersensoriality at Dodona
  • The Materiality of Magical Practices in Roman Britain
  • Amuletic objects in late antique Italy and Sicily
  • Ritual and Identity: British Collections of Bronze Figurines from First-Millennium-BC pre-Roman Italy
  • Approaches to Sensory Change in Etruscan Tombs

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.


Statue of a women on top of a tomb

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.