We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History

Research Programmes

We offer three research degrees:

PhD: Overview 

The PhD is our principal research degree. If you study full time, it is a three-year programme, during which you will come to work at the highest level in the subject, with the aim of producing an extended thesis (of not more than 100,000 words) which will make a significant and lasting contribution to the field.


PhD students are provided with a 'supervisory team', normally consisting of two members of staff who have expertise in the field of study. In practice, most students at this level work closely with one 'principal supervisor'. As part of the process of application, you should identify and contact the person you think might be suitable as your principal supervisor. (Consult our list of staff, their specialisms, and publications. Contact the Director of Postgraduate Research if you would like help with this process.) Your prospective supervisor will be able to help you develop a viable research proposal.

Preparation for doctoral research

If you intend to study for the PhD and do not already hold a Masters degree (or equivalent), you will normally be required to register for one of our taught MA programmes, which are designed to function as research training degrees, and offer the best possible introduction to higher research in the Classics, and the research culture of our Department in particular.


Other Research Degrees

The majority of our postgraduate applicants find that they are best suited either to the PhD or to one of our Taught MA programmes (which are research training degrees designed to act as the natural preliminary to PhD work). We do, however, offer two further research programmes which allow you greater autonomy than the taught MA without demanding the length of commitment required for a PhD:

  • MA by Thesis: a one-year programme (two years part time), examined by a thesis of not more than 50,000 words.
  • MLitt: a two year progamme (three years part time) examined by a thesis of not more than 70,000 words.

The admissions process is essentially identical to that for the PhD. (You should, for example, identify and discuss your plans with a prospective supervisor.) Subject to satisfactory performance it is possible to upgrade to the PhD from either of these programmes (though this is not a route we recommend if the PhD is really what you have in mind).