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Research and Impact

At Durham, we are committed to the study of Graeco-Roman antiquity as a subject with global relevance and the inherent potential for social and pedagogical benefit.

Our approach to research involves rigour in methodology (including a strong emphasis on the study of Greek and Latin), underpinning innovative explorations of new frontiers in the discipline, which aim to challenge entrenched and parochial views of the subject. We aim, in short, to produce credible and innovative research which has far-reaching effects on the subject and society as a whole.


Have a look at our staff and their research — this will show you who we have here at the moment (including research fellows, honorary fellows, and visitors), and you can find out about our individual research plans, and see how they relate to our vision.


We are also very keen to keep recruiting excellent students to our postgraduate programme in areas of our collective and individual research strengths. We have a large, international postgraduate community, which forms a vital part of our research environment.


Our research centres

There are three research centres based in classics and ancient history (but with interdisciplinary connections across the University).

These centres build on common and distinctive threads of interest which run through the sub-disciplinary areas of strength.
Read more
Two students exiting a historic building.

REF2021 results will be displayed here when they are available.

The following information shows how the department performed in the last REF2014 exercise
What is the REF?

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a method of assessing the quality of research at British higher education institutions. It assesses the research that has taken place during the period 2008–2013 (REF2014).

Why is the REF significant?

The four UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university’s research. They aim to support a dynamic and internationally competitive UK research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) measured the quality and impact of research submitted by UK universities across all disciplines. Durham University’s research breadth and quality was demonstrated in a submission of more than three-quarters of staff from all three faculties across 22 Units of Assessment (subjects).

How did the Department perform in REF2014?

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the Department of Classics and Ancient History was ranked joint second in the UK overall by Grade Point Average. 86% per cent of our research was considered to be in the highest two categories assessed, world leading (4*) and internationally excellent quality (3*).

One of the components of the assessment was research environment, defined as the vitality and sustainability of the Department’s research community. We are delighted that the Department of Classics has been ranked joint first in the UK for a research environment that is conducive to producing research of world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) quality.

The REF also assessed research impact – that is, the reach and significance of the Department’s research beyond academia. Once again, the Department of Classics has been ranked joint first in the UK for world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) research impact. For an excellent example of the impact which Durham’s research in Classics is having, click here to learn about Dr Peter Heslin’s work on providing access to Latin and Greek texts to people all over the world, through free software which he has developed.

For more information on the REF 2014 rankings click here