Doctoral Studentship in e-Science, Imaging Technology and Ancient Documents


(Sub-Faculty of Ancient History)


Further Particulars

1. General Introduction

Funding has been secured through the AHRC-EPSRC-JISC Arts and Humanities E-Science initiative to support a doctoral studentship, leading to the award of a D.Phil., for a period of four years from 1 October 2007, for a suitably qualified graduate, to work on the application of Information Technology (IT) to ancient documents under the supervision of Professors Alan Bowman FBA, Sir Michael Brady FRS FREng, and Dr. Melissa Terras (UCL). The studentship will be held in the Faculty of Classics and supported at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Oxford E-Research Centre (Directors: Dr. Anne Trefethen and Prof. Paul Jeffreys). The award covers both the cost of tuition fees and a maintenance grant. To be eligible, the student must have been ordinarily resident in the UK. Ordinarily resident is defined as a habitual and normal residence from choice and for a settled purpose throughout the prescribed period, apart from temporary or occasional absences of the applicant, their spouse or parent. Those eligible for a full award are:
• UK citizens who have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three-year period immediately preceding the start of the course.
• EU citizens who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the three years immediately preceding the start of the course.

2. Aims and objectives of the project
The studentship is attached to a project which will develop a networked software system to support the imaging, documentation, and interpretation of damaged texts from the ancient world, principally Greek and Latin papyri, inscriptions and writing tablets. Full details of the project are available electronically from Professor Bowman on request ( The specific objective of the doctoral work will be to develop a decision support system to aid palaeographical and historical interpretation of ancient texts, building on previous work in cancer image analysis by Professor Brady and colleagues in medical imaging. This will be achieved by methods of representing and tracking the reader’s developing decipherment and understanding of the document, by iteratively and progressively facilitating the inclusion of new insights and conjectures over prolonged periods of study and by a building a computer generated, human readable representation of the range of possible ‘solutions’ as well as the contingencies of such possibilities derived from contextual knowledge or direct perception of the text. It is expected that the doctoral student will approach the project with some degree of independent and creative thinking. The following should be viewed as indicating the area of work to be undertaken in collaboration with a post-doctoral Research Assistant.

a. Developing a decision support system, closely modelled on those developed in the Department of Engineering Science by Professor Brady and colleagues;
b. Incorporating into the decision support system representations of letter shapes and words in Latin and/or Greek, and associated knowledge building upon the doctoral work of Dr. Melissa Terras.
c. Building an interface to image analysis software developed by Professors Brady and Bowman for analysis of Latin stilus tablets.
d. Designing and implementing an interface to the components described in (a-c), in collaboration with the current JISC-funded VRE project ‘A Virtual Workspace for the Study of Ancient Documents’ (PI Professor Bowman).
e. Acquiring familiarity with work at Oxford University and elsewhere on Virtual Research Environments and on the design and implementation of interfaces to enable scholars to access the system to be designed and implemented, typically over the Internet.
f. Acquiring familiarity with work done in the broader Digital Humanities and Humanities Computing community regarding the development of computational tools to aid humanities researchers in undertaking their complex research tasks

Detailed Tasks to be undertaken by the doctoral student:

Decision Support System

(1) Become familiar with the structure and operation of MDTSuite decision support software package developed (for colorectal cancer) in the Department of Engineering Science;
(2) Understand the argumentation framework of MDTSuite and explore how it can be adapted to the current project;
(3) Understand the detailed software architecture of MDTSuite, including the Proforma, MXL rule-base and editor, and interface to networked software systems (implemented in Java);
(4) Develop a capability for scholars, perhaps working remotely, to customise the rule base; and
(5) Based on (1-3), design and implement a similar decision support system for the current project.

Representation and inclusion of relevant knowledge

(6) Become familiar with the work of Dr. Terras, through discussion and published research;
(7) Investigate how to represent similar bodies of knowledge in the decision support system (above);
(8) Develop a capability for scholars, perhaps working remotely, to customise the knowledge base;
(9) Evaluate the implemented system on a range of document types.

3. Qualifications, Training and Experience.

The AHRC’s normal expectation is that students who receive funding through the Research Grants scheme should, in addition, have gained some formal postgraduate qualification. If they do not have such a qualification, they must show evidence of sustained experience beyond first degree level that is specifically relevant to the doctoral research project and which qualifies them, exceptionally, as prepared for doctoral research without prior formal postgraduate training. If the student has already gained or completed the requirements for a doctoral degree, they may not apply for studentship funding towards a second doctorate.

• First-class honours degree in a subject that has a substantial computing component (e.g. Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics) OR a first-class honours degree in the humanities and evidence of expertise in programming and Informatics;
• Evidence of experience in programming in modern computing languages such as Java, C++, and using internet standards such as XML;
• Evidence of capability to undertake research in the development of a decision support system as described above;
• Evidence of ability to work collaboratively as a member of an inter-disciplinary team;
• Evidence of interest in Humanities based research, and research issues.
• Some knowledge or ability to acquire some basic knowledge of the language of Latin and Greek documents;
• Evidence of having completed an independent project successfully during undergraduate studies or other work experience.

4. Method of application

All applicants must complete the standard university application form (GAO 2007) which is available for downloading at Please note that in SECTION C, applicants should refer to the Faculty of Classics (Sub-Faculty of Ancient History) and the project title at the head of this document. In SECTION M, applicants should describe in some detail their qualifications, their interest in the research, the contribution they can offer to the project and the ways in which the proposed doctoral research fits their future career plans. Applicants must also supply:
• A transcript detailing results in undergraduate and postgraduate courses taken;
• A sample of written work of about 5000 words, of a kind which will provide evidence of their suitability for this studentship;
• The names of two referees who should be asked to send references directly to the Graduate Administrator at the address given below by the closing date.

All application materials, including references, must be sent, preferably by email as well as in hard copy, to Ms Ghislaine Rowe, Graduate Studies Administrator, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’ , Oxford OX1 3LU (01865 288397, to reach her not later than 4 July 2007. It is expected that interviews on Monday 16 July. Any further enquiries may be addressed by email to Ghislaine Rowe or to Professor Alan Bowman (

This entry was posted in General, Jobs. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Doctoral Studentship in e-Science, Imaging Technology and Ancient Documents

  1. Simon Mahony says:

    Note that the given deadline has expired. The post is still being offered and I’ll correct the deadline when they confirm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *