Hi Ruth, I graduated from York in 2005 in History of Art, but I found a great passion for Ancient History and art during one of my final modules. I am now interested in approaching Ancient History / Byzantine at MA and then PhD level. However, given that my first degree isn't in exactly the specialism and I have been out of education for so long I am concerned that my skill base won't currently be up to it. Are there any reading lists or any shorter courses that I could benefit by before applying for 2020? I am concerned that I may not be considered due to being a mature student without a first degree in the subject so my application may not look strong enough. Many thanks.

thank you for your question. My best advice would be to get in contact with the course director. From experience they might have a preliminary reading list for you to have a look at.
They will also be able to advise you on the entry requirements and whether or not your degree is sufficient. Everyone is very helpful and will make sure you have everything you need.
Hope that helps! Ruth

What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

The highlight of my time at Birmingham has been the active postgraduate life and community within the School of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology. It is a group of people working on similar projects, however with very different interests. This makes our weekly meetings at Rosetta Forum very interesting and helpful. Whenever you have a problem, there is always someone around who understands what you are going through and is able to help you out.

Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

To be honest, once I decided that I wanted to continue studying and started browsing the internet for English-speaking countries with courses in Greek Archaeology, Google directed me to the Birmingham website. After reading the course description for the MRes in Greek Archaeology, I felt like that was exactly what I wanted to do. So I applied. I got an offer for an MA by Research which got upgraded to a PhD after a year.

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

During my BA in Art History I took some modules in the Ancient History Department. One of them, Classical Archaeology, I really enjoyed and it was not until that moment that I decided that I wanted to study this particular period more. My BA had been focused on Architecture, and in particular the ‘revival’ of Classical architecture. To get a broader background in Ancient History I applied for the Masters in Ancient Culture. The possibility of taking it even further after the MA was a great wish of mine.

How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?

The degree is providing me with a detailed background for many subjects that have to do with the ancient world (in the broadest sense of the term). It provides me with a platform from which to build an academic career or a career working in/around museums. On the other hand, it provides me with a skillset that is valuable for a lot of other jobs as well.

Do you have anything lined up for once you have completed your degree?

For the moment, I have several options and plans. One possibility is that I would like to be working with museum collections, another is continuing on to an academic career. I would like to be able to share all the knowledge that I have gathered with regards to ancient culture with others. Another option that I would like to explore is writing books to pass on the great stories of the ancient world and make them available for a wide audience.

Hello, I'm not a PhD student, nowhere near actually, but I would love to pursue a career in history. I went to college to study history A Level but I didn't do so well. I'm going to partly blame this on not trying hard enough and the topics we were studying didn't interest me and I am mostly interested in ancient Greek/ Egyptian history. I have personally studied these subjects since being a small child. I would really love to be a historian in either of those fields but I honestly have no idea where to go from here. I was wondering if you would be able to offer any advice on the matter? This is honestly my passion and I would love for this passion to develop in a career in teaching. I hope you can provide any advice. Thanks.


It’s great to hear you are interested in a career in history. With A levels in history, your best bet might be to do an undergraduate in history (there you will be able to pick the area that interests you most). It is quite a big commitment, but from experience I can tell you that if that is what you would like to do, it will be worth it. If you then want to go into teaching, a PGDipEd or a PGCE would be the best follow-up from an undergraduate career. There are also training programmes that don’t require you to do all university based courses, but have a more practical approach if that is what you are after?

I hope this helps,

Dear Ruth, I'm from Italy. I would like to apply for a PhD in Greek Studies even though I feel a bit confused because of all the different steps to do when applying for a PhD and for an accommodation on campus. I am very interested in postgraduate research, for this reason I would like some information about what your experience was like at Birmingham university?

Thank you very much for your message. It’s great to hear you would like to apply for a PhD in Greek. (is it Greek history, Modern Greek Studies?)

The steps you need to go through to apply are as follows: 1. identify a potential supervisor from this list of staff members, 2. contact your potential supervisor with your research idea (this can be a full proposal or just an idea), to see if they would be able and happy to supervise you, 3. you can then develop your proposal further with your supervisor, 4. apply online through the course page for the PhD area you would like to study, 5. submit all the required documents. Please be aware that for a September start, you should apply no later than the end of July (this doesn’t mean all the documents need to be ready though)

For accommodation, there is an online application process as well. You can find out more and a like to the page here.

A little bit more about my experience 🙂 I applied online to study and received an offer late in August. I arrived at the University, not having been here before, and I have not left since. I am now working for the university, which hopefully illustrates how much I have liked my time here. The campus is beautiful, especially now that the weather is clearing up and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my supervisor (I still speak with him on a regular basis).

If there is anything else I could help you with, please do let me know.

Best wishes,

Hello, I'm located in New York City, and have a full-time lecturer position in English at the local university. Quite a few years ago, 15 to be exact, I finished my MA in Greek at Columbia. Now I'm wondering if would be possible to get my PhD in Greek through your university. The problem is, I have a 16 year old and a 6 month old: would a distance PhD in Greek be possible? I'm pretty motivated, and have kept up my Greek solo, but do see that travel to your campus would be daunting. Any options for me to work completely by distance? Thanks.

Hi Matthew,

Thank you very much for your question.

Yes, the university offers a PhD in Greek Studies (if that is what you are looking for) and you can find out more about it here. It will also show you what the research interests of the members of staff are. The PhD can be studied by distance learning, but there is a compulsory visit to campus (every year). The visit to campus is very well organised and it would be worth discussing the option of bringing your children with you (it is for two weeks). Other than the two weeks, you’ll be studying by distance learning with the complete support from our members of staff.

There is some extra information available on distance learning here with specifics on the visit to campus here.

I hope this is helpful and encouraging!

If you have any further questions, please do let me know.

Good luck,


Can I avail a full-fledged scholarship for PhD program on a similar topic on Early Harappan & Harappan Culture?


Thank you very much for your question. First of all I would recommend you have a look to see if there is a potential supervisor you would like to work with here. They will be able to help you in developing your research proposal as well as with applying for scholarships. The best place to start looking for scholarships is the PG Funding Database. The deadlines for each of these will be different and the requirements of how to apply might differ too.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,


My daughter has her heart set on an academic career in ancient history which she absolutely loves. However she has shown no aptitude at all for languages so is unlikely to manage to learn Greek or Latin. Would this be essential for a research career in ancient history? She has target a level grades of 3As and wants to do a PhD after first degree and then go into research.

thank you very much for your question. I wouldn’t say learning either ancient language would be essential, but this depends on a lot of things. One, whilst ancient texts are generally available in translation, a basic understanding of the language might help your research. Translations are, to an extent, personal and can be modernised to a degree. The basic understanding of the language might help in noticing why translators have made specific choices. For my own research, I could comment on a translation and correct it (and my understanding of both languages is quite basic).

For an undergraduate degree, it depend on the course your daughter is interested in. Some degrees require students to pick at least one ancient language as part of their curriculum. So I would like to advise you to have a look at the requirements for the programme.

One last note, something to bear in mind, is that for a PhD in Humanities it is most commonly required to have an undergraduate and Masters degree before you can apply for a PhD.

I hope that helps, please do let me know if you have any further questions.

Best wishes,

Hi Ruth! I am 20 years old and a BA history student from Budapest, Hungary. My passion is to work with ancient religions, particularly Ancient Greek religion. Currently I'm dealing with the different cults of Artemis. My question is that: are there many fields for those who would like to study ancient religions? Do they have many opportunities? Do I need special knowledge like, basic archaeological knowledge or language knowledge for my research?


Thank you for your question.

There are opportunities to work/study ancient religions, but it is worth looking at the modules offered at different universities to see whether they cover ancient religion and specifically ancient Greek religion. It is useful to be able to read ancient Greek, as there is a vast amount of epigraphical material that you could then incorporate in your research. Some basic archaeological knowledge, such as being able to read site reports and perhaps more importantly maps can be useful too.

I guess it all depends on your research focus, what you would like to know more about.

I hope that helps, but I’m happy to answer more questions!