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Department of Classics and Ancient History

History, literature and languages of the ancient Mediterranean
In our dynamic area of study, new discoveries and new interpretations are constantly changing our understanding of the ancient world.

We explore the history, myths, art, archaeology, philosophy, languages, literature and personalities of ancient civilisations, teaching diverse topics from Roman law and emperors to Greek religion and democracy. 

As one of the largest departments of Classics and Ancient History in the Australasian region, we are home to academics and researchers who are leaders in their fields, with some being awarded Faculty Teaching Awards in recognition of their high-quality teaching. 

We also have close ties with the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, which houses a large collection of artefacts from the ancient world. The museum is regularly used as a teaching space. 

Our study offering

Embark on a captivating discovery of the Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations through the evidence of myths, images, inscriptions, artefacts, written history and literature. Experience the interplay between the past and the present through a re-examination of the classical world and learn to appreciate its historical and cultural importance.


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Ancient Greek allows you to read, in the original, works of immense cultural and literary significance by the great writers of the ancient Mediterranean world. The study of philosophy, history, drama, lyric, epic, the novel, and oratory begins in Greece, and Greek contributions to world literature are undisputed models of perfection in every later age.


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

You will learn to read works of immense cultural and literary significance by the iconic writers of ancient Rome. Latin is the direct ancestor of nearly 50 modern languages and a major contributor to the vocabulary of many others, including English. It was also the language of European literature, history, science, medicine, diplomacy and law for nearly 2000 years. Studying Latin opens up intellectual vistas vital for exploring the past or navigating the present.


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Classics is available as an Honours year and involves joint study of Ancient Greek and Latin.

Classics offers a broad range of courses exploring the language, literature history and cultures from ancient Greece and Rome from the eighth century BC to the eighth century AD. Social, political and cultural perspectives are used to study the experiences, mentalities and activities of ordinary people as well as the great literature spectacles and events of the classical past.

Our research

Our department includes the Ancient North Africa Research Network, an initiative for academics and students interested in the North Africa region and its role in the ancient Mediterranean world to connect, conduct research and share knowledge. 

Our researchers also participate in research projects and collaborations with other disciplines, including: 

Research centres

Our people

Undergraduate coordinator
Dr Eleanor Cowan

Honours coordinator
Dr James Tan

Postgraduate Research coordinator
Dr Bob Cowan

  • Anthony Alexander 
  • Peter Brennan
  • Peter Brown
  • Dr Lee M J Coulson
  • Dr Brian Croke
  • Professor Eric Csapo
  • Dr Mary Jane Cuyler
  • Alan Dearn
  • Dr Robert Harper
  • Dr Andrew Hartwig
  • Dr Geraldine Herbert-Brown
  • Associate Professor Dexter Hoyos
  • Dr Estelle Lazer
  • Dr Christopher Malone
  • Dr Kit Morrell
  • Frances Muecke
  • Anthony Natoli
  • Dr Tamara Neal
  • Dr Elodie Paillard
  • Dr Andrew Pettinger
  • Roger Pitcher
  • Dr Louise Pryke
  • Professor Harold Tarrant
  • Dr John Tidmarsh
  • Michael Turner
  • Associate Professor Lindsay Watson
  • Dr Patricia Watson
  • John Whitehouse

Seminars and Events

The University of Sydney Department of Classics and Ancient History Seminar Series

Details of our seminars can be found on the SOPHI Events site

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions on campus events at the University, we will be running our seminar series using Zoom. 

Please complete this form to register your interest in joining our seminar series on Zoom.
Once complete, we will send you invitations to our attend online seminars. If you do not receive an invitation, please contact

The Todd Memorial Lecture commemorates the life and work of Professor Frederick Augustus Todd, former Professor of Latin and Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1930 to 1937. The lecture is delivered by a distinguished classical scholar with an international reputation.

The series is sponsored by the University of Sydney's School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry in conjunction with the Department of Classics and Ancient History and the Classical Association of NSW.


Pushing genre boundaries: expanded epigram in Horace and Propertius

Both Horatian lyric and Propertian elegy are medium-length forms which fall between the characteristic brevity of epigram and longer forms such as hexameter genres and drama. Expansion of the short form of epigram is thus a natural strategy for both poets, especially as both evidently participate and share in the Augustan penchant for ‘generic enrichment’ in which existing poetic genres are enlarged and enriched through the experimental use of elements which obviously belong to other genres. 

  • Friday 19 October, 5-7.30pm
  • Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA), Madsen Building F09, Eastern Avenue
  • Find out more


Distinguished classical scholar Professor Greg Woolf from the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London delivered a lecture titled 'How Cosmopolitan was Imperial Rome?'

Established in 2008 and held every two years, the William Ritchie Memorial Lecture invites a leading scholar of Hellenic antiquity to visit the University of Sydney every two years to deliver a public lecture in memory of the life and work of the late William Ritchie.

Bill Ritchie was a devoted teacher and scholar of Classical Greek at the University of Sydney from 1955 until his death in July 2004. He was Professor of Classical Greek from 1965 to 1991.

July 2018

Professor Simon Goldhill from Cambridge University presented 'Antigone and the Autocrats'.

We are proud of our longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with colleagues teaching ancient history and classical languages in NSW schools. 

To celebrate the work of these teachers and to nurture future teachers in our discipline, we host our annual networking event, Tea for Teachers.

We also welcome students in the department who are interested in becoming ancient history teachers, so they can meet experienced teachers.

The event is usually held in September each year. 

For more information, please email Dr Eleanor Cowan.

Department Chair

Dr Paul Roche

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