Department of Classics

Program in Classical Archaeology: PhD Requirements


In the first two or three years of study, students often have opportunities to serve as Teaching Assistant for the department’s introductory courses in Greek and Roman Archaeology (CC 307C and 307D). For the MA, students in the program are normally advised to make Greek and/or Latin their major field; but they may choose instead to make archaeology the major. Students usually continue coursework through their third and into their fourth year of study, as they work on completing course and exam requirements and on developing a dissertation prospectus. By the end of the fourth year, they should have satisfied all preliminary requirements and be ready to hold their dissertation colloquium and advance to doctoral candidacy (see PhD program for further details).

Note: Students who entered before Fall 2008 should see the Archaeology Advisor for alternative guidelines and requirements.


The concentration in Classical Archaeology has three special course requirements, which are designed to be flexible so that students have abundant opportunity to explore areas of special interest. First, since it is essential to understand the basic principles of classical archaeology and its development as a discipline, all students in the program are required to take a seminar in archaeological method and theory, which is offered in alternate years. Second, each student is also required to take at least one graduate seminar on a topic in Greek material culture and at least one on a topic in Roman material culture. These seminars enable students to engage closely with contemporary issues, problems, and approaches in the discipline. Third, all students are required to take at least two courses (either graduate or upper-division undergraduate) in other departments, such as Art and Art History, Anthropology, and Geography.

Note: To be appointed an Assistant Instructor (AI), students must first take a graduate course in teaching methods (LAT 398T), offered every Spring semester. Students normally take this in their fourth semester; students entering with an MA may take it in their second semester.

See below for the related requirements of a Research Portfolio and Applied Methodology.


Students in Classical Archaeology must pass a series of written examinations before advancing to doctoral candidacy. Most of these exams are the same as those required for the regular PhD program. The exceptions are 1) an alternative way to demonstrate proficiency in one of the classical languages, and 4) two special exams in classical archaeology, which replace the regular exams in classical literature.

1. Classical Languages

Students must pass one of the regular translation exams, in either Greek or Latin; see PhD Program for further details. Students must demonstrate proficiency in the other language either by a) passing the regular translation exam in that language too, or b) 9 hours of reading courses or seminars that have a substantial language component with a grade of B or higher. Under the second option, at least 6 hours of coursework must be at the graduate level; 3 hours may be a senior-level course (numbered 360 or higher) with a grade of A.

2. Modern Languages

Students must pass proficiency exams in German and one other modern foreign language (usually French or Italian). Students are expected to pass one exam by the end of their fourth semester, the other by the end of their sixth semester of graduate work. See PhD program for further details.

3. Ancient History

Students must pass separate three-hour written exams in both Greek and Roman History. See PhD program for further details.

4. Classical Archaeology

Students must demonstrate proficiency in ancient material culture by passing separate written exams in two areas: a) Aegean Prehistory and Greek Art and Archaeology, and b) Etruscan, Roman and Late Antique Art and Archaeology. These three-hour exams are based on separate reading-lists, and they include slide identifications, essay questions on general material, and thematic essay questions on contemporary issues specified, with bibliography, each year. Students are expected to take one of these exams by the end of the first year and the other by the end of the third year. Those who wish to review the material are encouraged to sit in on one or both of the undergraduate surveys of Greek and Roman archaeology.

Reading list for Greek Archaeology (pdf)
Reading list for Roman Archaeology (pdf)
Sample questions for archaeology exams [forthcoming]

Research Portfolio

The research portfolio, instituted in Fall 2008 to replace a regional/chronological exam, ensures that each student has deep and extensive knowledge of a particular area and/or period of the ancient world. It also provides a venue for individualized consultation with the faculty about ways to approach the specified area or period prior to beginning the dissertation. In their second year in the program or later, students designate a graduate seminar as the focus of the portfolio; the seminar is designated at the beginning of the semester in which it is taken and with the approval of the instructor and the Archaeology Advisor. The student is expected to work closely with the instructor throughout the semester. Each Research Portfolio has two main parts:

1) A literature-review paper, developed in consultation with the instructor during the first three weeks of the semester and due at the end of the same semester. This paper should discuss the state of the field, major scholarly debates, and emerging research questions for the broadly-defined period and/or region which the student has designated (e.g. Archaic Greece, the Roman provinces, or Early Bronze Age Crete), and must include an extensive annotated bibliography.

2) A final seminar paper that engages closely with a specific body of data from the designated period and/or region, ideally of sufficient quality to serve as the basis for a scholarly article or public lecture. The student should identify the data and questions this paper will address by the eighth week of the semester.

These papers are evaluated by two outside readers selected by the seminar instructor from the faculty in Classics and/or related UT departments. Each reader submits a written evaluation to the instructor along with an overall verdict of Pass or Fail for the two papers taken together. Both readers must assign the portfolio Pass for it to fulfill the requirement. If the portfolio does not receive a Pass from both readers, specific suggestions for remediation will be provided and the student may submit a revised portfolio to the same readers no later than the end of the following semester. If the revised portfolio does not Pass, the student must designate a new seminar to fulfill this requirement.

The two papers described above are the only work required for the portfolio. But students are encouraged to include other work on which they would like feedback, especially any papers they are considering submitting for a conference or publication. Although such additional work will not be formally evaluated, comments and advice from the readers can be very helpful.

Applied Methodology

Before advancing to doctoral candidacy, each student concentrating in Classical Archaeology must acquire practical competence in one or more subfields calling for specialized skills, such as epigraphy, numismatics, field methods, ceramics analysis, GIS, physical anthropology, etc. Practical competence may be demonstrated in various ways:

a) by completing a specialist summer seminar or program (e.g. ceramics analysis, epigraphy, numismatics, papyrology, etc.; general summer programs like those of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and the American Academy in Rome are not eligible), a mini-course in a special field, or suitable coursework with a practicum (in Classics or another department);

b) by serving in a staff position (trench supervisor, ceramics analyst, GIS specialist/surveyor, etc.) on an archaeological field project.

c) by some other experience or qualifications approved by the Archaeology Advisor.


After developing a topic and research plan in consultation with faculty members in classical archaeology, each student writes a dissertation under the supervision of a committee that normally includes at least two members of the classical archaeology faculty. For further details, see Dissertation Procedures.

August 29, 2009
Rabun Taylor