Award Type and NFQ level : RESEARCH PH.D. (10)

CAO/PAC code : MHF02 (FT), MHF03 (PT)

CAO Points :

The aim of this programme is to provide students with a professional training in academic research in Classics, and to develop their capacity to contribute to international scholarship in the discipline in an original and effective fashion.  To this end, the programme seeks to equip students with the necessary skills in research, academic writing and the ancient languages, along with any other specialist training required for their particular project. Above all, the Department aims to provide the opportunity for students to pursue their own specific research interests, working independently under the supervision of members of staff who will provide detailed guidance, advice, and feedback on the students' work. The primary objective is the production of a substantial contribution to original scholarship in Classics in the form of a thesis.  Over the course of the Structured PhD programme students will acquire the habit of independent study and research, along with the capacity to express their ideas effectively and to build upon (and assign due credit to) the research of others.  By the end of the programme, they will also have acquired the necessary linguistic and technical competences to be able to engage at an appropriate level with professional scholars.

Closing date
Research applications are generally accepted at any time.

September (or other agreed time)

Applicants for the PhD in Classics are normally expected to have achieved a first-class or high upper-second-class result at the MA level; occasionally an appropriately qualified student may be admitted directly to the PhD from an undergraduate degree. Except in exceptional circumstances, no applicant will be admitted to the PhD without a prior knowledge of Greek or Latin at a level deemed appropriate.

Applicants must have a qualification at least equivalent to an upper-second-class pass in the 200-level course in Greek or Latin (as appropriate), and an appropriate number of modules at the 300-level in the same language, or equivalent, must be passed before the degree can be awarded.

Applicants must have a recognised primary degree which is considered equivalent to Irish university primary degree level.

Minimum English language requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.5 minimum overall score
  • TOEFL (Paper based test): 585
  • TOEFL (Internet based test): 95
  • PTE (Pearson): 62

Maynooth University’s TOEFL code is 8850

The Department has special expertise in a range of areas – literary, historical, and philosophical – within the field of classical studies. It is particularly strong in the areas of the ancient novel, ancient philosophy (especially Cynicism and Epicureanism), and late Antiquity/early Christianity, but other areas in which thesis supervision can be offered include death and writing on death in Antiquity, epistolography, Greek epic and drama, Greek social history, Hellenistic history, Latin poetry, Roman Republican history, Roman religion, the Second Sophistic, and modern receptions of the classical world. These do not exhaust the possibilities for higher-degree research in the Department, however, and enquiries are welcome.

Dr William Desmond
William Desmond’s main research focuses on the literature, history, and cultural life of the Classical Greek period.  He has a particular interest in Plato and the Cynics, in both their essential ‘Greekness’ and their manifold influence beyond the Greek world.  He has published monographs on Classical Greek understandings of wealth and poverty, on the Cynics, and on the historical varieties of the ‘philosopher-king’ from Plato to the twentieth century.  He also has some expertise in nineteenth-century receptions of the Classics, and in process philosophy from Heraclitus to Whitehead.

Dr Kieran McGroarty
Kieran McGroarty’s research career began in the area of Neoplatonic philosophy, his work culminating in a monograph on Plotinus.  He now works in the field of Greek social and cultural history, especially of the Classical period.  He has also published on Alexander the Great, and maintains a keen interest in this area.

Dr Maeve O’Brien
Maeve O’Brien’s principal research subject is the second-century-AD Latin writer Apuleius.  She works chiefly on his novel the Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass), but is also interested in his philosophical writing.  Beyond this, her specialist areas extend to take in Petronius and the genre of the ancient novel generally; Middle Platonism and other philosophical doctrines of the period known as the Second Sophistic; and the reception of the classical world in Irish writing of the eighteenth century, with a particular focus on women writers and their reading publics.

Dr Cosetta Cadau
Cosetta Cadau works on literature of the fourth to the sixth century AD, particularly Greek epic. Her research focuses on the renegotiation of classical tradition in the Late Antique period and within Christian literary contexts, and the evolution of concepts of gender and identity in the Late Antique period. She is the author of the first interpretative monograph on Egyptian epic poet Colluthus (Studies in Colluthus’ Abduction of Helen).


The structured PhD programme in Classics provides students with a range of modules to support the development of their research project and their future career.  There are two types of module: subject-specific, and transferable.

Module selection
(a) Students with a Masters-level qualification and competence in either Ancient Greek or Latin, or both, at second-year undergraduate level will be required to take 15 ECTS credits in transferable modules and a minimum of 25 ECTS credits in subject-specific modules, normally to include five modules in either advanced Greek or advanced Latin.

(b) Students with a Masters-level qualification and competence in either Ancient Greek or Latin, or both, at undergraduate degree level will be required to take 15 ECTS credits in transferable modules and a minimum of 15 ECTS credits in subject-specific modules.

(c) Students with no relevant Masters-level qualification will be required to take 15 ECTS credits in transferable modules and a minimum of 45 ECTS credits in subject-specific modules.

In all cases, the exact choice of modules will be a matter to be agreed between the student and the Departmental Research Student Progress Committee.

Course Duration: 4 years FT, 6 years PT

University teaching and research, schoolteaching, and numerous other professions for which high-level writing and research skills are a desideratum.

Online application only

PAC Code
MHF02 PhD Full-time
MHF03 PhD Part-time

The following information should be forwarded to PAC, 1 Courthouse Square, Galway or uploaded to your online application form:

Certified copies of all official transcripts of results for all non-Maynooth University qualifications listed MUST accompany the application. Failure to do so will delay your application being processed. Non-Maynooth University students are asked to provide two academic references and a copy of their birth certificate or valid passport. 


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