Postgraduate Research Degrees

The application window to apply for our DPhil courses  in Archaeological Science, Archaeology and Classical Archaeology has now re-opened as of May 2020.  This is open to first time applicants for this year.



There are three research degrees in Archaeology, examined solely by thesis: the DPhil in Archaeology, the DPhil in Archaeological Science (for which candidates can also submit a thesis by papers as an alternative to the traditional monograph thesis), and the DPhil in Classical Archaeology, but projects which cross these disciplinary boundaries are welcome, and students are enrolled in the most appropriate degree. Although students are encouraged to attend lectures and participate in research seminars, there is no formal course of instruction. Instead, students are guided in their research by supervisors, academic or senior research staff appointed by the Committee for the School of Archaeology, who are experts in their field of research. 

The DPhil is a full-time degree and students are expected to complete their theses, which have a maximum word length of 80,000 words, within three or at the most four years. To begin with, students are admitted as Probationer Research Students, transferring to full doctoral status within four terms of their arrival. Their progress is formally assessed through the submission of written work and an interview by a small assessment panel ('transfer of status'), while a further similar assessment ('confirmation of status') is held within seven terms of their arrival. At each stage students also make a short formal presentation of their research at one of the Doctoral Student Symposia organised by the School of Archaeology, which help students develop their presentational skills at an early stage of their careers. Successful doctoral theses must, among other things, display evidence of substantial and original research, lucid and scholarly presentation and a sound knowledge of the general field within which the thesis falls.


Full details of the application procedures relating to all (taught and research) degrees administered by the School of Archaeology, including access to the online application form, can be found on the University admissions pages. Questions about their detail should be directed in the first instance to the Graduate Admissions Office. What follows is a summary outline of the procedures followed and the steps that you need to take.

Deadlines for receipt of applications

The University has a number of application deadlines allowing applications to be assessed against each other at a series of dates throughout the academic year. You can apply to study archaeology at Oxford in time for any of the deadlines.

Many programmes are able to consider applications submitted after the last relevant deadline if places are still available but be aware that courses and college places do fill up and so you should apply as soon as possible.

Deadlines for candidates applying for grants

If you are applying for a grant from a UK Research Council (with the exception of an NERC quota studentship), or for Clarendon or other awards, you must apply by the January deadline. You should also indicate on your application that you are applying for a specific award.  Further guidance on the current AHRC application procedure is available on the Humanities divisional website.

Graduate Admissions criteria

Please see

Submitting your application

Your application can only be assessed once all relevant information has been supplied. Please therefore make sure to complete all appropriate sections of the application form and arrange for references and written work to be submitted on time. You will need to provide:

  • evidence of previous academic study, including final degree result (or predicted result if you have not yet completed your studies) and academic transcript (where available);
  • information on how you will pay fees and support yourself while a graduate student, including information on any scholarships or awards for which you may be applying;
  • personal statement, and a research proposal for a DPhil (<1500 words);
  • three academic references;
  • two pieces of written work.

Existing students

If you are currently studying for a taught course at Oxford and wish to apply to continue onto a research degree with no break in your study you can apply using the Re-admission form. You will need to meet all of the same deadlines and requirements as other applicants except that you will not need to pay a fee to apply. Please see information in the Application guide at

Choosing a College

Please see

Assessment of your application

All applications are assessed by two members of the School of Archaeology with relevant experience and expertise, chosen by the Director of Graduate Studies. If need be, additional advice is also taken. Assessments are made solely on academic grounds, and in the majority of cases interviews are not held. We strongly encourage you to email or visit academic or senior research staff that are likely to supervise your project discuss your research plans before making your application as they can help and advise on the project proposal. The assessment is based on the material submitted with your application after consideration of your previous qualifications, references, personal statement or research proposal and the submitted written work, as outlined above.  


Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until the college which gives you an initial offer of a place is satisfied that you have sufficient funding to cover your fees and living costs for the standard period of fee liability for your course.

Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties.

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background. Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the selection criteria appropriate to the programme of study. Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available at

Recently completed DPhil projects


Details of current DPhil projects are listed on the graduate pages of this website.  In addition, the Oxford University Research Archive holds details (including abstracts and in some cases full texts) of all theses since 2007 (when it became a requirement for students). Theses completed prior to 2007 will have been submitted on a voluntarily basis.

A list of recently completed projects is found below:

Theses completed between 2017-18:


Assessing the nature of early farming in Neolithic Western Asia: a functional ecological approach to emerging arable weeds

Forging Bonds: The role of gold and silver in high-status of Eastern Eurasia, 6th to 9th centuries

Coinage in Etruria: Circulation and Uses 500-32 BC

The supply of building materials to construction projects in Roman Oxfordshire: logistics, economics, and social significance

The Effects of Climate and Geography on Palaeodietary Reconstruction: With a Focus on Late Antique Spain

Human and Environmental Change at North Atlantic Coastal Settlements, ca AD900-1800: A chronological perspective

Birds in the Aegean Bronze Age

Trade, development and resilience: An archaeology of contemporary livelihoods in Turkana, Northern Kenya

A comparative study of the lithic technology, subsistence and bioclimatic settlement patterns of Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula (Cantabrian and Betic regions)

From Hispalis to Ishbiliyya: the ancient port of Seville, from the Roman Period to the Early Middle Ages

Christian Stucco Decoration in Southern Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf Region, sixth to ninth centuries

Towards an Absolute Chronology of Early Mesopotamia: a Radiocarbon Perspective

Carmen Heroum: Greek Epic in Roman Friezes

From Individuals to Settlement Patterns. Bridging the Gap between the Living and the Dead in Early Medieval Populations by an Agent-Based Demographic Model

Chemical Composition, Thermodynamics and Recycling: The Beginnings of Predictive Behavioural Modelling for Ancient Copper-based Systems

Absorbed Organic Residue Analysis of Amphorae from the Black Sea Region (3rd to 6th c.AD): Analyses and Methodological Considerations

Neolithic agricultural management in the Eastern Mediterranean: new insight from a multi-isotope approach

The North-Eastern Aegean 1050-600 BC

Cultural Interactions during the Zhou Period (C.A. 1000 - 350 B.C.): A Study of Networks from the Suizao Corridor

Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean contacts: Internal networks and external connections

A Study in Grey: Grey Literature and Archaeology in England 1990 to 2010

The fluvial landscape of Angkor: an integrated study

Transition from the Late Roman Period to the Early Anglo-Saxon Period in the Upper Thames Valley based on Stable Isotopes

The formation of a Frontier Polity: the (Warwickshire) Avon Valley in the Fifth to mid-Seventh centuries A.D.

Capturing changes: applying the Oxford system to further understand the movement of metal in Shang China

An Archaeobotanical investigation into the Chalcolithic economy and social organisation of central Anatolia

The Prehistory of Madagascar: Microbotanical and Archaeological Evidence from Coastal and Highland Sites

Hellenistic and Roman bronze statuettes in the Ashmolean Museum: a study in ancient and modern reception

Roles of Weapons: Significance, Identity and Value in Shang (c.1600-1050 B.C.) society China

Revisiting the Origins of Islamic Glazed Pottery: A Technological Examination of 8th-10th Century AD Ceramics from Islamic Lands

The Orientalising Phenomenon on Crete, 9th-7th centuries BC

The circulation of flesh: regional food producing/consuming systems in Southern England 1500BC-AD1086

Mobilising Stone: Investigating Relations of Materiality, Movement and Corporality in Holocene Saharan Rock Art

New Insights into Old Problems: The Application of a Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Early Egyptian Ceramic Chronology,  with a Focus on Luminescence Dating



This page will contain a list of staff who have capacity to accept new students in the coming years.



DPhil Projects for 2020

Some DPhil projects on offer to start in October 2020

Please note that these do not include funding (details on funding can be found here). If you are interested in other topics please contact relevant academic staff to help you with your research proposal, and establish if they are taking on new students.  


Developing new approaches to examining human impact on the forest during the Mesolithic in southern Scandinavia

Supervisor: Dr. Amy Styring

High Precision Radiocarbon Chronology. New instruments and methods are allowing for unprecedented precision in measurement but can this be used to get high-precision chronologies for archaeological or environmental records?  There are many potential issues which need to be addressed, including seasonality in the radiocarbon signal, systematic biases arising from samples or methods, and the calibration process itself.  This project will test hypotheses about how significant these affects are and new ideas of how to tackle them. This project would suit a student with a strong scientific and numerical background.


Generating and analysing ancient DNA derived from domestic animals. We have several on going projects looking at the genetic variability of ancient domestic animals including pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, and many others to understand the pattern and process of domestication, and the shifting relationships between people and animals through time and space.

Supervisor: Prof. Greger Larson


Ceramic technology in prehistoric Northern and/or Northwest China. Other projects include: J.G. Andersson and his legacy; Painted pottery in early China; Painted pottery in China and Western Asia: a comparative technological study; Ancient potters and their modern imitators from a behavioural point of view (China or other places); and topics on materiality, technology, identity, and various topics in the field of archaeology of East and Southeast Asia, potentially also Central Asia.

Supervisor: Dr. Anke Hein


Archaeology and monuments of the eastern Mediterranean in the Hellenistic and Roman periods

Supervisor: Prof. Bert Smith


Refining the tephrochronology and tephrostratigraphy of the Canary Islands to assist with the correlation and dating of archaeological sites that record early cultural evolution in NW Africa. This project would be suitable for the Boise Trust Studentship or NERC DTP. For information on how to apply for the funding please see our funding page.

Supervisors: Dr. Victoria Smith and Prof. Nick Barton


The costs of monumental architecture in late republican Latium: an architectural and economic study

Supervisor: Dr. Dominik Maschek


Scents and smells in late antique religion.

Supervisor: Dr. Ine Jacobs