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Research programmes: The PhD and MPhil

We offer two research degrees: the PhD and the MPhil

We also offer a one-year research degree, the Masters of Studies by Research or MSt(Res), but we encourage most students considering a one-year degree to take our MLitt, which provides training in research across a broad range of Classical subjects.

The PhD

The PhD comprises three years of full time study, at the end of which the candidate will submit an 80,000 word dissertation which should be scholarly, substantial, significant and lucid (consistent with expectations based on what is reasonable within three years of full-time study); and should contain material worthy of publication in some form.

A typical doctoral candidate will normally already have a Masters qualification. If you do not have this, we will require you first to complete the MLitt. If you are not sure whether you are qualified to apply for the PhD, please contact the Postgraduate Secretary.

Spotlight on… Anouk Vermeulen:

Arnouk Vermeulen“Hi, my name is Anouk Vermeulen, and I’m a third year PhD student. I’m working with Prof. Greg Woolf on a thesis entitled ‘Centuriation and its alternatives: a reconsideration of Roman land division’. I’m looking at Roman land division, comparing the available evidence from field surveys etc. with the field systems identified from aerial photos in the seventies and eighties, to work out the how and why behind the settlement patterns. So far it appears that the reality does not meet the idealistic standards in the minds of either ancient or modern scholars – no surprise there, does reality ever live up to the ideal?! I have already done a considerable amount of archaeology and now work a lot with GIS, a computer program to help create your own maps, so have learned a lot more about maths and statistics too. And at least, if all else fails, I’ll have really awesome maps in my thesis!”

Anouk Vermeulen, PhD student

Meet our current students and their doctoral projects

Supervision and Training

Our research students have at least two supervisors: a principal supervisor, who has relevant research expertise in the proposed study area, and a mentor. Our PhD students also often draw on the expertise of other staff for particular topics or skills. If your proposed topic of research is inter-disciplinary, you may also be assigned a supervisor outside the School of Classics.

We invite potential research students to consult staff about their proposed topic: find the right supervisor, sample our scholarship, and explore our current major projects and events. In addition to your specialist training within Classics, the university also provides professional development training (including GRADskills) and we offer our graduate students the opportunity to teach undergraduates.

The MPhil

The MPhil comprises two years of full time study: the ‘taught’ component of the MLitt, followed by a 40,000 word dissertation which is scholarly, substantial, significant and lucid, based on what might reasonably be expected of a capable and diligent student after one year of full-time research.

After the PhD/MPhil

Our graduates are now working as professional scholars all over the world. Recent destinations in Europe include: the University of Warwick, University College London, Georg-August University (Göttingen), the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna), and the Open University of Cyprus.  In North America, our graduates research and teach at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver),  Pennsylvania State University,  Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) and the Ohio State University. In Asia: Bilkent University (Turkey) and Prince Sultan University (Saudi Arabia); and in Australasia, the University of Auckland.

Spotlight on… Tosca Lynch, Joe Howley


Tosca LynchAfter obtaining an undergraduate degree in Classical Music, a BA and an MPhil in Ancient Philosophy and Classics in Italy, Tosca Lynch came to St Andrews to work with Prof. Stephen Halliwell. She completed her PhD thesis ('Training the soul in excellence' - musical theory and practice in Plato's dialogues, between ethics and aesthetics’) in 2013, which gained her a ‘Moisa Research Award’ for its outstanding scientific quality in 2014. Dr Lynch is now a post-doctoral researcher on the 'Rhythm in Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry' project, directed by Dr. Stefan Hagel, at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Culture, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna. In addition to her research, she designed and ran the ‘First Moisa Summer School in Ancient Greek Music’ (Trento, 24-28 June 2014), which brought together many of the most renowned specialists in the field and attracted numerous students from eleven different countries. She organises also the annual ‘Summer Seminar in Ancient Greek and Roman music’, which celebrates its 10th edition in 2015.

Explore Tosca's research and publications


CL_pg-howleyDr Joseph Howley
, now a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Columbia University, came to St Andrews to read for the MLitt in Ancient History, before embarking on his PhD – “Intellectual narratives in the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius” – under the supervision of Prof. Jill Harries and Prof. Jason Koenig. His primary interests are the intellectual culture of the Roman Empire, books and reading in the ancient world, and values of learning and knowledge more generally in antiquity."

Explore Joe’s research and publications.



Spotlight on Jeremy Armstrong

Dr Jeremy Armstrong is now Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Auckland. Working with Dr Jonathan Coulston, his PhD thesis, completed in 2009, was entitled "Warlords and Generals: War and Society in Early Rome. In addition to Jeremy’s research interests in Roman warfare his new project will involve a detailed study of 5th century BC Roman political offices, with particular attention paid to the period from 452 to 443 BC.‌

Explore Jeremy’s research and publications.

Explore the research and publications of our recent graduates:
Jeremy Armstrong; Carmen Cvetkovic; Symke Haverkamp; Joseph Howley; Tosca Lynch; Trevor Mahy; Hannah Mitchell; Michael Sloan; Julietta Steinhauer; Allison Weir; Matthijs Wibier; Christos Zekas

While many of our graduates intend to pursue careers in academia, others use the research skills they have developed as a basis for careers outside of Higher Education. Recent graduates have gone into publishing, free-lance writing, secondary school teaching, the charity sector, university administration and even sommelier school. The University Careers centre aims to make sure that you get the most out of your study, and works with our postgraduates right from the beginning of their time at St Andrews to prepare for life after your research degree.

The MSt(Res)

This is a one-year degree during which students write a thesis of up to 30,000 words. Students considering applying for this degree are encouraged to contact the Director of Postgraduate Studies, particularly if they are considering taking a PhD afterwards.

The next Postgraduate Visiting Day will be in November 2017.

St Andrews is one of the top 50 universities in the world for research and teaching in the Arts and Humanities and among the top 20 for International Outlook, according to the Times Higher World University Rankings 2014/15

St Andrews ranked 2nd equal for research excellence among UK Classics departments in REF 2014.

The School of Classics invites potential research students to consult individual members of staff about their proposed topic.

Postgraduate enquiries

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