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Our research – University of Reading

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  • World-leading research

    Unraveling the past to understand the future

Our research

Internationally recognised as one of the finest Classics research institutions in the world, we take a groundbreaking approach to the Classical world. We examine the cultures, histories, societies, languages, religions and material remains of the ancient Mediterranean, for a greater understanding of the past and the present.

Our research sits within the Classics Research Division, which has a proud history stretching back more than 100 years. With strong international connections, we collaborate with researchers, students and visiting staff from across the world, and the Department hosts international conferences and runs regular research seminars. If you want to be in a place where ideas are exchanged and international perspectives are readily available, this is the place to be.

"Within my specific area of research exciting new things keep happening, for example: the discovery of a major Classical settlement in western Thessaly; fresh approaches to the study of ancient federal states; and regional history being pursued in a much more dynamic and imaginative way."

Dr Emma Aston

Head of the Classics Department


World-class research

Classics at the University of Reading is ranked:

  • 3rd in the UK for research output*
  • 6th in the UK for research overall*
  • 100% of our research impact has been recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.**

Members of our staff contribute to prestigious international research networks, and we engage in collaborative research within and beyond the edges of our discipline. We have formal partnerships with universities in Europe, North America and China and reach worldwide audiences through digital scholarship and online courses. We regularly host international conferences and welcome academic visitors from overseas, and we are always open to exploring new ways of enhancing our international research profile.

*Times Higher Education Institutions Ranked By Subject, 2014, based on its analysis of REF 2014 - Classics.
**Research Excellence Framework, 2014 - Classics.

Research areas

Our staff bring their own exciting and original perspectives to the ancient world. We have expertise in the languages and cultures of Egypt and the Middle East as well as Greece and Rome. We study traditionally neglected areas, such as northern Greece. We explore the impact of Greek political thought on the modern world. We bridge the gap from the world of Classical antiquity to that of early Christianity and Islam. We engage with the reception of ancient Greece and Rome in modern Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. We work with material culture and texts on stone and papyrus to interpret the ancient world in new ways for new audiences, in academia and the wider community.

Research students in the Department have the opportunity to work in many different fields, including:

  • Language, Text and Power
  • Ancient Religions
  • The Ancient Material World
  • The Classical Tradition and Reception Studies
  • Ancient Literature
  • Roman Economy
  • Virtual Rome
  • Network on Ancient and Modern Imperialisms
  • The Legacy of Greek Political Thought

Research Awards

At Reading, you will be joining a research community which is internationally recognised and has received numerous prestigious awards. These include:

  • Professor Ian Rutherford - Research Fellow at K├Ąte Hamburger Kolleg Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe, Bochum, Germany (2018-19); Visiting Senior Fellow at the Anadolu Medeniyetleri (Arastimalarasi Merkezi) Research Centre (2016-17); Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (2013-14).
  • Professor Annalisa Marzano - Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship: ''Grafting glory': new plants, the economy and elite identity in Rome' (awarded in 2016 for period Sept.1, 2017-Aug. 31, 2019).
  • Dr Matthew Nicholls - British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award (BARSEA) 2015.
  • Dr Arietta Papaconstantinou - Gerda Henkel Foundation Research Scholarship (2015-2016): 'Credit, debt, and the transformation of rural society in Egypt and Palestine from Constantine to the Abbasids'.
  • Professor Peter Kruschwitz - British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2014-5): 'Poetry of the People'.
  • Dr Arietta Papaconstantinou - ERC Award (2013 ff.): 'The Cult of Saints: a Christendom-wide study of its origin, spread and development'.
  • Professor Eleanor Dickey - Leverhulme Fellowship (2012-4): 'Latin loanwords in ancient Greek'.

Research impact

The research here at Reading has a significant cultural impact, helping society to better understand both the Classics and the world of today. Your research will contribute to a division which is actively bringing Classics to life for the public and the academic world alike.

Dr Matthew Nicholls' virtual Rome model is a prime example of our research impact. This expansive, multi-award winning digital model, developed by Dr Nicholls, depicts Rome as it stood in 315 AD. This model sheds new light on history's shadows - for example, it can be used to investigate questions of sight lines, illumination and routes through the metropolis.

"I'm really delighted to have got this model to a stage where it's so useful to so many people. The work we do here makes a huge contribution to people's knowledge and understanding of the past, and I'm so glad the world can now join us on this journey of discovery."

Dr Matthew Nicholls

Associate Professor in Classics


Professor Eleanor Dickey's research into ancient education is also having a significant impact. Eleanor's study of ancient classroom behaviour revealed a school experience completely different from that of modern children: ancient children began their school day by interrupting the teacher with their arrival, worked individually, and were not required to raise their hands. Eleanor wanted to bring these exciting findings to the attention of the wider public and so began the Reading Ancient Schoolroom, offering schoolchildren the opportunity to experience an ancient school setting for themselves.


Versatile research strategy

We respect and endorse research methods which suit the individual, enabling our staff to carry out both individual research and research in structured clusters and groups. The Department of Classics is at the heart of humanities research at Reading, informing and underpinning many aspects of the humanities: history, literature and art have all been influenced by the inspiration of the ancient world. As a result our research groups cross into other disciplines, and we have strong links to the following organisations:


Contact the department

Get in touch with the Department of Classics if you're interested in joining our research community.

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