Current PhD students and community

Find out more about our current PhD students and what it's like to be part of our PhD community.

Our postgraduate research community thrives on interdisciplinarity, curiosity and a culture of knowledge-sharing and peer review.

Archaeology PhD experience

Current Archaeology PhD students

  • Jane Barker - 'Equine Warriors: Harnessing the Power of Performance in Iron Age Britain'
  • Sarah Botfield - 'Representations of the Cultural and Natural World in Mid-Late Neolithic Ceramics’
  • Victoria Brandon - 'Apiculture, identity and cult practice in the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age, 3000-1000 BCE'
  • Alathea Fernyhough - 'Metalwork as Power: The Social, Symbolic and Socioeconomic Significance of Metals and Metalworking in Southern Mesopotamia 2,300-1,300 B.C.’
  • Laura Howard - 'The Identification of Third Gendered Peoples Using Osteological Analysis, and the Consequences of European Colonization for Native American Perceptions of the Third Gender Status'
  • Catherine Jones - 'Swords in Iron Age Britain’
  • Maria Katsimicha - 'The "Outsiders". Investigating the Periphery of the 'Mycenaean World' via an Alternative Bioarchaeological Approach'
  • Rosie Kenworthy - 'New Dimensions in Early Mesopotamian Urban Environments'
  • Michelle Scott - 'Ancient Identity and Modern Identification: A Re-Evaluation of Unprovenanced Objects as Storage of Memory and Identity, from Museum Egyptology Collections, that Relate to Kingship during Dynasty 0, c. 3200-3000 BC’
  • Jason Walton - 'The Exploitation of Resources and their Link to the Mundane and Ritual – A Study of the Anthracological, Floral and Faunal Remains from the Late Neolithic Site of Domuztepe, SE Turkey'
  • Marta Zingale - 'The social, organizational and technological context of pottery production in mid-3rd millennium Southern Mesopotamia'

Archaeology PhD alumni

Sarah Douglas, Health and Social Care Project Coordinator

Health and Social Care Project Coordinator

I submitted my PhD thesis in September 2019 and passed my viva in January 2020, ten years after starting my undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Manchester in 2009. I know that I am just one of many students that have chosen to continue their academic career in the University of Manchester Department of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology at MA/and or PhD level. This is a real testament to the support and time that staff both past and present invest in their students both academically and in the field.

Inspired by the courses I took at undergraduate level, I have taken an interest in exploring issues that are socially relevant today throughout my studies and my PhD research was focused on examining identity, gender and status on Bronze Age Cyprus. I really valued being able to contribute to a broader body of work in archaeology that is illuminating the complex nature of human identity construction in the ancient past. As binary assumptions about different aspects of human identity are being unravelled in the present, this wider research serves an important purpose in challenging traditional and restrictive views that can be damaging to equality in modern society. With this in mind, I was keen to pursue a career path outside of archaeology in the public sector, within a role where I would be able to make a positive impact in the present. After handing in my PhD thesis, I began a new position as a project coordinator in the health and social care sector. I have worked on projects that support service users with a diverse range of needs including mental health, physical/learning disabilities and autism.

Undertaking a PhD in archaeology and teaching as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Manchester has equipped me with a number of key skills that are transferable to project management.  For example, the ability to synthesise large amounts of information and communicate the main messages, complete a project to a schedule, manage a busy workload, monitor project progress and budgets and communicate effectively in person and in writing with diverse audiences in mind. The training and support I received from my supervisors at Manchester have undoubtedly helped me to develop and refine these skills and apply them in a new setting outside of academia.

  • PhD Title: Beyond gender and status: Rethinking the burial record on Bronze Age Cyprus (2500-1250 BC).
  • Supervisors: Dr Lindy Crewe, Prof Eleanor Casella, Dr Ina Berg.
  • Funding: North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership studentship.

Rob Isherwood, Director, Community Archaeology North West


Director, Community Archaeology North West

I completed my PhD at Manchester in 2009. This marked the end of eight years with Manchester Archaeology; a BA(Hons), and MA preceded my doctoral research into Community Archaeology. It's a relatively small department at Manchester. This helps to create a friendly atmosphere where everyone knows everyone else, and there is a strong sense of unity. Moreover, it helps towards the merging of academic and social life.

The support given to research students in Archaeology is exceptional. The advice and direction provided by my supervisors ultimately helped me towards successful applications for funding awards from the AHRC for both my MA and PhD, without which I would have found it impossible to continue my studies. The size of Manchester University means that there is tremendous scope to receive training from outside your main discipline. Because of my research topic, I began my PhD by taking a number of training courses in ethnographic and community interview methods.

Since completing my PhD I have established my own consultancy in Community and Educational Archaeology. I'm currently designing learning programmes to enable the Historic Environment Record to be used as a school resource. I'm also developing widening participation programmes in archaeology across Greater Manchester and the North West region.

  • Thesis title: Community Archaeology: A study of the conceptual, political and practical issues surrounding community archaeology in the United Kingdom today.
  • Supervision panel: Professor Siân Jones (primary supervisor), Dr Melanie Giles (second supervisor) and Helen Rees-Leahy (Advisor and panel member).
  • PhD funding: AHRC.

Helen Kristmanson, Director, Aboriginal Affairs and Archaeology, Canadian Government

Director, Aboriginal Affairs and Archaeology, Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour Government of Prince Edward Island.

In 1996 the Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River, Newfoundland, Canada, asserted their Aboriginal and treaty rights to carry on traditional hunting activities in the Bay du Nord Wilderness Area. The resulting legal case generated a voluminous array of historical evidence and primary documents. As an archaeological consultant to the Miawpukek Band at that time, I was contracted to evaluate the use of archaeological knowledge as a form of evidence in Aboriginal rights and title litigation. It soon became clear that the criteria set out by the legal tests were, from an archaeological perspective, founded on problematic assumptions about culture, identity and authenticity.

As my interests in these subjects deepened, I began to think more critically about traditional frameworks of archaeological interpretation in Atlantic Canada, and enrolled in the PhD program at the University of Manchester. My subsequent thesis was entitled: Archaeology to Court: the use of archaeology in Aboriginal rights and title litigation. The faculty, administrative staff, and fellow students at the University of Manchester were all friendly and welcoming. While I spent much of my programme based in Canada, my work within Manchester Archaeology introduced me to a new level of scholarship and a much wider world of archaeology than I had previously known.

Since completing my doctoral program, I have accepted a new position with the Government of Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada. As Director of the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, I am responsible for the coordination and management of governmental matters related to First Nations and Aboriginal organizations. I am also responsible for all archaeology conducted within Prince Edward Island, and am the first to hold the position as Provincial Archaeologist. I feel fortunate to have found a job which so closely aligns with the experience I developed during my Manchester programme, and allows me to work with the Aboriginal community as both an archaeologist and government official.

  • Thesis title: Taking archaeology to court: the use of archaeological knowledge in aboriginal rights and title litigation.
  • Supervisor: Professor Siân Jones.
  • PhD funding: OSS Award for overseas students and Parks Canada.


Angela McClanahan, Lecturer in Visual and Material Culture, Edinburgh College of Art

Lecturer in Visual and Material Culture, Edinburgh College of Art

I decided to undertake doctoral study with the Manchester Archaeology programme after working as a qualitative researcher on a community archaeology project in the Orkney Islands in the summer of 2000. Having been trained in the 'four field approach' in Anthropology (ie that archaeology, cultural anthropology, biological anthropology and linguistics together provide a holistic view of human cultures) as an American undergraduate, I was keen to examine the role that the past plays in our understandings of the present.

During my time at Manchester, I found a research culture that was lively, supportive and friendly. My fellow postgrads and I were actively included in staff research projects, and I also found the staff enthusiastic about contributing to student activities, including participation in student seminar programmes, delivering joint papers at scholarly conferences and joint publications. These kinds of experiences create a collegiality that is absolutely invaluable to the postgraduate research experience.

All of these things make Manchester an exciting, challenging and rewarding place to pursue postgraduate research. Studying there certainly prepared me for my current role as a lecturer in an art college, where my interdisciplinary and wide ranging view of materiality helps engage a diverse community audience. The training and experiences I received at Manchester were crucial in my attainment of and ability to carry out successful work in this post.

  • Thesis title: Monuments in practice: the heart of Neolithic Orkney in its contemporary contexts.
  • Supervision panel: Prof Siân Jones (main supervisor) and Dr Sally Foster (external supervisor, formerly Historic Scotland).
  • PhD funding: Nafum Award for North American students and Historic Scotland.

Katie Mills, Research & Knowledge Analyst

Research & Knowledge Analyst

I completed my PhD in Archaeology in 2019. I had previously undertaken a BA Hons in Archaeology and Social Anthropology and an MA in Archaeology, both at The University of Manchester. My PhD research was based around ethnographic research and therefore not wholly archaeological in nature, however the staff in the archaeology department were able to support my research, as well as able to advise on a wide range of topics that were not always entirely within their own research specialities, which I found to be invaluable. 

Since finishing my PhD, I have embarked on a non-academic career path. I am currently working as an analyst for a corporate law firm, and have found that the skills that I accrued during my PhD have been invaluable in enabling me to adapt to working within an entirely different industry. My current role involves undertaking mixed methods data analysis in order to deliver legal, business and industry insight that is required by both internal and external clients, which includes involvement in both short term and longer term strategic projects. Alongside developing an understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, by the very nature of undertaking a PhD, I was also able to gain experience of more general transferable skills including: 1) Project Management - by liaising with heritage and funding institutions and local communities, managing deadlines and problem solving; 2) Budget management - developing funding proposals and managing fieldwork budgets for case study sites; 3) Persuasive communication – my PhD enabled me to hone my skills in developing multiple arguments in relation to research and data, which I then presented at conferences, lectures and seminars, as well as in writing. This in turn allowed me to build my confidence and skills in public speaking and presentations.

During my my eight years on-and-off of being part of the department, I was lucky to build up good working relationships with both my peers and members of staff. Throughout my time in the department, I found everyone to be supportive, friendly and extremely knowledgeable - attributes that are particularly helpful when you have taken on the challenge of a PhD!

  • Thesis title: Weather affects: evaluating its experiential impact on heritage visitors and conservation practice.
  • Supervisory panel: Dr Sian Jones, Dr Melanie Giles, Dr Lindy Crewe, Dr Hannah Cobb.
  • PhD funding: School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

Aimee Schofield, owner and tutor, Aquila Tuition, and Honorary Visiting Fellow

Owner and tutor, Aquila Tuition; Honorary Visiting Fellow, University of Leicester

After graduating in 2014, I worked for two years at a small private tuition company. Alongside this, I worked with the University of Leicester to deliver outreach introducing Latin to a local secondary school.

I then spent two years working as a Teacher of Classics at Leicester Grammar School, gaining my PGCE with QTS from the University of Buckingham and successfully completing my NQT year.

I now run my own private tuition company, specialising in Latin, Greek, Classical Civilisation, and History alongside a wide range of other subjects. I continue to work with the University of Leicester and my Honorary Visiting Fellowship has recently been extended.

  • Thesis title: Experimental archaeology and siege warfare: analysing ancient sources through experimentation.
  • Supervisory panel: Dr Andrew Fear, Dr Peter Liddel, Prof David Langslow.

Classics and Ancient History PhD experience

Current Classics and Ancient History PhD students

  • Philip Barlow - 'The Evolution of the Just War Theory: Ancient Atrocity, Conceptions, Reactions'
  • Isabel Black - 'Practical Magic: Making and Using Magical Objects in Rituals in Late Antique Egypt'
  • Andrew Davies - 'The Cornovii: to what extent did integration into the Roman Empire affect the development of native culture?'
  • Thomas Goessens - 'Reconstructing the Early Christian Family: A Study into the Biometric and Commemorative-Relational Aspects of the Christian Epigraphic Evidence from the City of Rome (300-600 C.E.)'
  • Roxana Gregor-Som - 'Landowners and Tenants in Byzantine Hermopolis'
  • Allegra Hahn - 'A Physiology of Morals: The Ethics of Health in Seneca's Medical Imagery'
  • Valentina Iannace - 'The Village of Theadelphia in the Second Century AD: The Archives of Aphrodisios, son of Philippos and of Ptolemaios, son of Diodoros'
  • Kathleen Lagorio - 'Alexander and the Macedonian Army in India'
  • Karolis Lyvens - 'Living Latin (1880-today): Ideology and Identity'
  • Lucy Mudie - 'Magic Mirrors: Mirror Metaphors in Ovid's Ars Amatoria'
  • Laura Nastasi - 'Greek and Latin in Contact: Roman Corinth'
  • Luke Wilkinson - 'How "collective" was Roman collective memory? The role of the populous and the Augustan invention of Roman collective memory'

Classics and Ancient History PhD alumni

Sam Fernes, temporary Lecturer and parent

Temporary Lecturer and parent

I spent six fulfilling years pursuing a part-time PhD at the University of Manchester looking into ageing in the non-elite population of ancient Rome. I was happy to find myself in a department that took great efforts to support its graduate students and to incorporate them into its wider life and research culture. Furthermore, studying at Manchester provided me with unexpected opportunities, ranging from teaching school children as a PhD demonstrator at the Manchester Museum to consulting the internationally important John Rylands papyri collection alongside world experts in Dr Mazza’s series of workshops. I discovered a love for teaching and after completing my PhD, I took up a temporary lecturing position at the University, spending a very happy year with some great students.

At the moment I am less involved in academia as I concentrate on raising two young children. I still pursue research using the skills I developed in my time at Manchester and am currently looking into the labour and leisure of those in later life in the ancient world. The skills I developed have also proved transferable to non-academic life in a surprising fashion; in my current role as a stay-at-home dad, for example, I’ve regularly drawn on the perspective that comes from completing a project over many years with moments of agonising frustration, in full knowledge that it’s all worth it in the end.

  • Thesis title: Later Life, Work and Withdrawal from Work Amongst the Non-Elite in the Roman World (c.44 BC – c. AD 300).
  • Supervisory panel: Prof Tim Parkin, Dr Mary Beagon, Dr Polly Low.
  • PhD funding: School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

Eleni Ntanou, Lecturer in Classics, University of Athens

Lecturer in Classics, University of Athens

I started my PhD programme in 2014. I selected the University of Manchester based on my admiration for my supervisor’s research and the high level of the department’s teaching staff in its entirety. The fact that this is a relatively small department contributed to a friendly atmosphere and to the avoidance of the feeling of isolation, which is common during a postgraduate programme. I remain close to my supervisor as well as to other (former and current) postgraduates of the University, with whom I have developed strong bonds, and successfully cooperated in the organisation of workshops and the publication of studies.

With the support and guidance of my supervisor I developed as a researcher. The rest of the teaching staff were also extremely helpful and offered useful advice and suggestions during my PhD programme and after it. Furthermore, the department substantially assisted my progress by funding my participation in seminars and workshops associated with my research.

Since completing my PhD, I have proceeded to teaching both in middle and in higher education.

  • Thesis title: Ovid and Virgil’s Pastoral Poetry.
  • Supervisor: Professor Alison Sharrock, Dr Maria-Ruth Morello.
  • PhD funding: Lees Scholarship for PhD Research in the field of Latin Language or Literature.

Alexandra Wilding, Lecturer in Classical Studies, The Open University

Lecturer in Classical Studies, The Open University

I completed my PhD in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester in 2017. Having also studied for my BA and MA at Manchester, I was familiar with the department’s existing research strengths in ancient Greek history as well as the resources offered by the library.

During my time at Manchester, both my supervisory panel and other ancient historians within the department were hugely supportive of my academic and professional development. They made me part of their research community and, in my second and third years, part of their teaching community too. The department also encourages its students to study ancient and modern languages: I enjoyed taking classes in ancient Greek, Latin and academic German during my undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

As a PhD student, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in academia. My teachers never offered any illusions that this would be an easy path to take and I remain grateful to them for this advice. I have been extremely fortunate to go on to hold lectureships at Lancaster University and (currently) The Open University. The teaching and research skills I acquired over the course of my PhD equipped me well for these job roles, but they are also skills which may be transferred to other sectors as well. Since completing my PhD, I have continued to have the support of former teachers and the department: I am currently Honorary Research Fellow and to continue to use the library regularly. 

  • Thesis title: Authority and Memory at the Oropian Amphiareion.
  • Supervisory panel: Dr Peter Liddel, Professor Stephen Todd, Dr Mary Beagon.
  • PhD funding: PDS Award.

Egyptology PhD experience

Current Egyptology PhD students

  • Christopher Bebbington - 'Representations of Female Authority in Predynastic Art'
  • Rachael Mayoh - 'A Study of Shells from Predynastic, and early Dynastic, Ancient Egyptian Contexts found along the Nile Valley, Sinai Peninsula, the Levant and Mesopotamia'
  • Kelee Siat - 'Women, agency, politics and power during the Late Bronze Age: An examination of women in diplomatic correspondence'