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Faculty of Classics

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For centuries scholars have been studying ancient Greece and Rome in Cambridge and today the main focus of that research is the University’s Classics Faculty building. With nearly three hundred undergraduates, over 120 postgraduates, 36 university teachers, and almost as many postdoctoral researchers, college teachers and retired colleagues, the Faculty is a centre of international importance in the field. There is a list of current Faculty members and their research interests for you to consult. You may also be interested in joining one of our research projects.

We offer two courses, a 9-month MPhil in Classics, and the 3-year PhD

  • The MPhil in Classics provides an intense programme of research training between October and June each year: students work closely with a supervisor in devising and pursuing a personally tailored programme of study. Central to the MPhil course are the weekly seminars in which participants  develop their research skills and present their ideas to an audience of fellow students in their own disciplines.
  • The PhD in Classics, leading to the submission of an 80,000 word thesis, has launched the careers of distinguished scholars teaching in Universities around the world (there are some examples on the Caucus pages), and many theses have become publications of major importance. Students have both a primary and a secondary supervisor, and annual reviews provide a structured opportunity for feedback on how the research is progressing; a designated series of classes provides support in the specialist skills essential for in-depth research. 

In addition, we welcome visiting postgraduate students and affiliated students, i.e. postgraduates of other universities who wish to study the final part of our undergraduate course.

As well as being the setting for lectures and seminars, the purpose-built Faculty building (extended in 2010) is the home of the Classical Faculty Library, an open-shelf collection of over 60,000 volumes with a computer resources room. With its 24-hour access for keyholders, and the postgraduate common room located nearby, the Library is the main workplace of many of our postgraduate students. Students can also use the University Library, which as a legal deposit library can acquire almost every book published in the UK and Ireland, and where the classical holdings complement those of the Faculty’s own Library. Upstairs in the Faculty, the Museum of Classical Archaeology contains one of the very few collections of casts of classical sculpture to survive from the 19th century, together with pottery and epigraphic ‘squeezes’, and we also have a Mycenaean epigraphy collection. The Fitzwilliam Museum, with which the Faculty works closely, has exceptional holdings of classical art and of ancient coins.

Each term, the Faculty hosts an unrivalled programme of research seminars across the various disciplines in Classics, with presentations made by academic staff in the Faculty, by scholars visiting from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, and by our own postgraduate students (see the current seminar list). Every year the Gray and Corbett public lectures are given by leading figures in the subject, and the Laurence and Craven seminars are annual research workshops on a range of classical themes. Students can attend undergraduate lectures in Classics and other Faculties, while the nearby Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities hosts an extensive interdisciplinary programme of seminars and workshops. Once a week, the Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Seminar gives MPhil and PhD students the opportunity to give papers in an informal postgraduate-only environment; and there are other opportunities for postgraduates to organise their own research events too. They are fully involved in the running of the Faculty through representation on the key committees, and often asked to undertake 'supervision' (small-group teaching) of undergraduates. The Faculty is in the fortunate position of having some funds available to support students’ travel abroad for research purposes or to attend conferences in their field.

You can also read what some of our recent postgraduates have to say by looking at some postgraduate profiles. Under the Current Students tab you can find postgraduate handbooks with more course details, and our statement of purpose about postgraduate training.

Beyond the Faculty, our postgraduates are also members of a College, which as well as providing pastoral support, a social focus and (in many cases) accommodation, also represents a intellectual community of scholars and students working across the range of subjects taught in the University, in the Sciences and Social Sciences and well as the Humanities: this enriches the intellectual experience of all.

We warmly welcome applications from well-qualified students keen to join this thriving international community and pursue postgraduate-level study in Classics – whether your interest is in Greek and Latin Literature, Philosophy, History, Art and Archaeology, Philology and Linguistics, or Interdisciplinary approaches to the ancient world. Our individual approaches to these subjects differ, but collectively our aim, and our passion, is to understand the ancient world better.

Latest news

John Donaldson

27 September 2022

The Museum of Classical Archaeology is very sad to report the death on 21 September 2022 of its former Assistant Curator, John Donaldson. John worked in the Museum from 1988 until his retirement in in March 2013. Indeed, the Museum looks the way it does in large part because of John, who was as happy painting bases as he...

Joyce Reynolds FBA (1918–2022)

12 September 2022

The Faculty of Classics is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Joyce Reynolds FBA. She was Reader Emerita in Roman Historical Epigraphy, Fellow of the British Academy, and Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, where she was Director of Studies in Classics from 1951 to 1979. She was awarded the Gold Medal of the...

BBC Radio 4 - Reflections on Majesty, Mary Beard

12 September 2022

Mary Beard is one of ten writers and scholars invited by the BBC to reflect on their experience of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Follow the link below to listen: Listen here

Visual Interactions in Early Writing Systems (VIEWS) awarded ERC grant

16 March 2022

Philippa Steele, Senior Research Associate at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, has been awarded a grant of 2 million euros by the European Research Council (ERC) to investigate the visual properties of pre-modern writing. The five-year project, Visual Interactions in Early Writing Systems (VIEWS), will...