Jonathan Davies

Jonathan Davies
Ancient History Postgraduate, April 2013

I originally obtained a BA in Classics at Oxford and, after a number of years working as a high school teacher, I chose to come back to study for the MPhil in Ancient History. In my teaching career I missed the intellectual rigour of studying Classics at a high level, and my previous experiences as an undergraduate meant that I already knew that Oxford, with its outstanding and large Faculty, its unparalleled breadth of course offerings and its rich resources for the study of antiquity, would be the perfect place to rediscover the joys of academic study. I haven't regretted this decision for an instant, and I have found that the MPhil experience has been everything I expected and much more.

The academics here have a remarkable talent for helping their graduate students to succeed whatever their academic path, and the large, friendly and engaging graduate community is a constant source of support and encouragement. My main area of interest within the subject is the Jewish experience of Roman rule, and so the work I do is to some extent interdisciplinary. I have found that this has been absolutely no barrier to study at Oxford: the Faculty of Classics has been very accommodating of those aspects of the course (such as classes in Biblical Hebrew) which are unusual for classicists, and the relevant members of the Oriental Studies Faculty have been very eager to help me achieve my academic goals too. The main difference between studying ancient history at Masters and Bachelors levels has been the requirement to write a thesis, a substantial piece of original research, but there is still space for breadth as well as depth, and studying for the optional papers has ensured that I have continued to receive a broad education in Roman history, as has the wide array of lectures and seminars put on by the Faculty in term-time. My experience has been so positive that I have decided to continue with postgraduate study to doctoral level, and I am certain that the MPhil has provided me with an outstanding training for this.

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