Authority on Roman Empire to head Institute of Classical Studies

Wednesday 21 May 2014

An authority on the history of the Roman Empire has been appointed Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, one of the member institutes of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Professor Greg Woolf, who is currently Professor of Ancient History at St Andrews University, said he is looking forward to joining the Institute, which is world-renowned for research in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds and is home to one of the most important classical studies libraries in the world.

Professor Woolf will assume his new role from 1 January 2015. He succeeds Professor John North, Emeritus Professor of History and former head of the History Department at University College London, who has held the directorship in an acting capacity since January 2012.

‘The popularity of the classics is at an all time high, in universities and in Hollywood, in exhibitions, bookshops and on TV,’ said Professor Woolf. ‘New research in classics covers an ever expanding range of subjects, making connections with disciplines as diverse as cognitive psychology and film studies, with ecology and Arabic philosophy and the new institutional economics.

‘Our task is to keep opening new doors while at the same time passing on the difficult - but essential - philological skills of the discipline to the next generation.

‘Classics is fundamental to the humanities, and has connections with many other disciplines. I look forward to working with colleagues across the School, and with classicists in London and throughout the UK.’

Professor Woolf is a prolific writer who has lectured all over the world as well as holding fellowships in various Oxford and Cambridge colleges. His many historical publications include: Becoming Roman. The origins of provincial civilization in Gaul; Et tu Bruté? The murder of Caesar and political assassination; Tales of the Barbarians. Ethnography and empire in the Roman west; Rome. An Empire's Story.

Professor Woolf has won various research awards, the most recent being an Anneliese Maier Research Prize from the German Humboldt Foundation. Valued at €250,000, the prize will allow him to work with academics and postgraduates at the University of Erfurt on a range of projects relating to the religions of the Roman empire.

Professor Roger Kain, CBE FBA, Dean and Chief Executive of the School and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: ‘After a rigorous selection process Professor Woolf emerged as the outstanding candidate to lead the Institute of Classical Studies and I am delighted that we have been able to make such an excellent appointment. Professor Woolf, brings a wealth of experience and scholarly expertise, which will prove an invaluable asset as the Institute continues to evolve and prosper.’

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Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Dee Burn at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at / 020 7862 8670 / 07900 401 240. Images available on request.

2. The Institute of Classical Studies, founded in 1953, is a national and international research centre for the study of the languages, literature, history, art, archaeology and philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. It provides an internationally renowned research library available to scholars from universities throughout the world, in association with the Hellenic and Roman Societies, and is the meeting place of the main Classics organisations in the UK. It is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

3. The School of Advanced Study, University of London (SAS) is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2012-13, SAS: welcomed 833 research fellows and associates; held 2,231 research dissemination events; received 21.7 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,529 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

4. Professor Greg Woolf studied Classics and Ancient & Modern History at Oxford. His doctorate in Cambridge was on the transformation of indigenous societies, in what is now France, in the period of Roman rule. He carried out part of his doctoral studies in Paris’s École Normale Superieure, and subsequently conducted archaeological fieldwork in France. He is a member of the editorial board of the French journal Gallia. He has held fellowships at Cambridge and Oxford universities and was appointed to a Chair of Ancient History at St Andrews in1998. He has also held visiting positions at the British School at Rome and at universities in Brazil, France and Germany. He has taught and examined most periods of Greek and Roman history as well as world archaeology and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquities of Scotland and of the Max Weber Kolleg in Erfurt. Professor Woolf has won various awards including a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust and an Anneliese Maier Research Prize from Germany’s Humboldt Foundation. He has served on the Councils of the Classical Association, the Classical Association of Scotland and the Roman Society for which he also edited the Journal of Roman Studies for five years. He currently chairs the Council of University Classical Departments and is a member of advisory boards for the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust and the British Museum.

5. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. It consists of 18 self-governing Colleges of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at