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Classics and Ancient History > Research-led learning environment

How does the Classics and Ancient History department define a research led environment?

The department seems to see learning in a research led environment primarily as learning from lecturers who are themselves active researchers and having a provision for postgraduate students to conduct research. There is little to no evidence of including undergraduates in the research process. On the main page research features heavily:

“...research which continues to open up new aspects of Greco-Roman antiquity and its importance in later history.”

“The Warwick department has a lively community of students from the UK, Europe and North America who are engaged in postgraduate research.”

“Among UK Classics and Ancient History departments, our department has been ranked:

7th, Guardian University Guide 2010 (published 12 May 2009)

8th, Complete University Guide (published 30 April 2009)

9th, Times Online Good University Guide 2010

Research Assessment Exercise 2008:
1st for research output rated 3 and 4 star;
2nd in terms of Grade Point Average”

Past students Stuart Hill and Philip Pratt are quoted as saying respectively:

“...the department is welcoming, very friendly and more than capable of providing a learning environment capable of stimulating the calibre of students that the university attracts.”

“The lecturers themselves are world leaders in their fields.”

This would suggest that the department’s view of a research led learning environment for students is one in where the lecturers themselves are experts undertaking research and this knowledge is imparted to students through conventional teaching methods and on a one to one personal basis, without perhaps the students conducting their own independent research until they come to write their dissertation.

What provisions are made for students to engage in research?

There are few opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in independent research. Although the students must frequently research their own essays, the title of the essay must be picked from a list. However all students must complete an originally researched dissertation of 8,000-10,000 words in their third year.

There are provisions for museum visits and field work, which is research of a sort, for example:

“Students opting for Principles and Methods of Classical Archaeology take part in a week-long dig on a local site, and visit local museums”

By contrast there is a clear emphasis on opportunities for postgraduate research

“Th (sic) Department has a lively community of postgraduates studying for Taught and Research MAs and for PhDs, including students from the UK, Europe and North America.”

Further Analysis

Looking deeper into the research culture of the department, it seems that this is where the links with other departments I mentioned in the section on interdisciplinary research really come to the fore.

"We share many interests with other Warwick departments (Philosophy, History, Centre for Renaissance Studies, Italian, History of Art)"

Interestingly, as seen in the quotation above this section, this is also an area where the department uses language to emphasise the benefits of the global nature of its postgraduate students. Perhaps this is an indication that the undergraduate student body is comparably not so diverse, as I could not find a similar statement about undergraduates.

Also on the research page, the department is "pleased to announce" that it offers postgraduate bursaries. The subtext given the context of this statement seems to be that the department prizes heavily postgraduate research. There is no similar equivalent mention of undergraduate research, nor could I find any mention of URSS, for example, on the department website or in the department handbook. Hence there seems to be a clear disparity between views of what kind of study it is appropriate for an undergraduate to do and what is appropriate for a postgraduate to do.


The Classics and Ancient History department does not have many provisions for independent research at an undergraduate level apart from the final year dissertation. It would perhaps take the stance that a research led learning environment need not involve undergraduate students actively participating in independent research themselves.