Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson

Faculty association:
People type:
Academic Background

I was an undergraduate at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, where I read Literae Humaniores. Thereafter I won a scholarship to study at Harvard University. I returned to the UK and pursued postgraduate studies in Classics Education at Trinity College, Cambridge and at the University of Glasgow. My doctoral thesis examined the role of Classical rhetoric and responsible citizenship in contemporary education.

I have been awarded a number of prestigious fellowships. I was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, a Churchill Fellow in Australia and an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am also the recipient of a Teaching Star award from the Institute of International Education in New York. I am currently collaborating with the Classics department at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa on a project to boost children’s literacy through the study of Classics via the Oxford-Africa initiative. In 2020, I won the Vice-Chancellor’s Education award for the Classics in Communities project.

I am the Outreach Officer of the Classical Association and a steering group member of the British Curriculum Forum. I am a member of the Roman Studies Committee of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. I sit on the US-UK Fulbright Commission's Alumni Council.

During Covid-19, I have acted as subject expert for Classics to both BBC Bitesize and Oak National Academy.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in Humanities education. I research the value of a Classical education in the twenty-first century. I am the principal investigator on the Classics in Communities project (https://classicsincommunities.web.ox.ac.uk) where I investigate what impact the learning of Latin and Greek has on children’s cognitive development. I hold a research and public policy partnership with the Department for Education via which I provide expert advice on curriculum policy relating to languages education. In 2020-2021, I am a Knowledge Exchange Fellow at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

I research the intersection of Classical rhetoric, oracy and citizenship education. I work on the rhetorical theories of Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian. I am currently contributing to a range of pedagogical and academic projects where this expertise is directly benefitting teachers, speechwriters, politicians and policymakers.

I also research Classics and employability and regularly lecture on this subject alongside colleagues from the Careers service.

Research Keywords

Classics education, rhetoric, citizenship, literacy, critical literacy, curriculum policy, political discourse, employability, argumentation, pedagogies and teacher education.


I have extensive experience of teaching both in secondary schools and in Higher Education. I have taught a range of topics including the Latin and Greek languages at all levels, Roman History, Republican oratory, Epic literature, Numismatics and Classical Drama. I regularly contribute to Initial and Continuing Teacher Education in the Humanities as a subject expert.

Arlene would be happy to supervise MSt/MPhil and DPhil students in the following areas:


  • The learning and teaching of Classical subjects in schools, universities, museums and communities
  • Classics and employability
  • Classics, outreach, access and representation
  • The role of Classics in the curriculum
  • Ancient and Modern Languages policy and pedagogies
  • International comparative Classics education
  • Public policy analysis, engagement and influence
  • Knowledge Exchange in the Humanities

Full Publications: Holmes-Henderson full list of Publications 2021

Selected Publication: