Research course

The ancient body

Open University · Department of Classical Studies

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

Recent appointments in this area have made our department a centre for studying the ancient world through the theme of ‘the body’. We interpret this theme in a highly interdisciplinary way, bringing together the approaches of archaeology, anthropology, medical humanities, ancient history and classical studies to find ways of using material culture and written evidence alongside each other.

We regard the body as a way of addressing what we see as a central question for any historical discipline: is the past just like us, and therefore transparent, or entirely other, and therefore unknowable? Where the body is concerned, the fact that we share so many fundamental everyday experiences with the people of the past may blind us to the difficulties of interpreting their writings, ideas, and objects. Yet studying how people thought about, treated, manipulated, modified, represented and disposed of their bodies provides a window into ancient societies.

If you would like to join us as a full- or part-time research student please contact the Department of Classical Studies for an informal preliminary discussion. A well thought-out research proposal which sets out specific research questions, your strategies for addressing them and how your research will contribute something new to the field, will enhance your chances of admission.

Current/recent research projects
  • Blame and infertility in the ancient world
Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

Death, disposal, mourning, grief and burial practices Representations of the body in visual or material culture Religion and the body, including votive offerings The senses and sensory experiences Death in Etruria Sex and sexuality in ancient Greece Receptions of the ancient body Dress in the Roman Empire Gender and medicine in the ancient world

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
variable months
part time
72 months
full time
36 months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

+44 (0)1908 653247