Personal profile


My first degree was a BA in Classics from Trinity College Dublin (1995-9). I then went astray for five years – studying international politics and economics at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service (1999-2001) and working as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co (2001-4) – before eventually seeing the error of my ways. I returned to Classics and completed an MPhil and PhD at Cambridge (2004-8). I was a Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (2008-10) and came to St Andrews in September 2010. I am currently the Editor of the Journal of Roman Studies.

Teaching activity

  • My Honours modules include Ancient Empires, The Culture of Roman Imperialism, Roman Slavery and Death in Roman Culture. I also contribute to Honours Latin modules on Latin Letters and Latin Historical Writing. 
  • I also teach across the team-taught sub-Honours programmes in Ancient History and Latin Literature.

Research overview

My main focus is a new study of the scale of manumission in the Roman world, drawing on quantitative and comparative methods. The work was funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2019-21). A preliminary study is forthcoming in Chiron 2022, showing that we need a new way to interpret data on the prevalence of Greek names, which represent some of the most important evidence for manumission in Roman Italy,

I continue to work on Quantifying Enfranchisement, a project to quantify the spread of Roman citizenship from Augustus to Caracalla. The project centres on a novel, probabilistic approach to uncertainty in historical estimation. The initial phase was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2014-15). I have published the methodology and the preliminary results in an article in P&P 2016, a more detailed study of the army in JRS 2019 and a case study of the province of Asia in Chiron 2020. I have also collaborated with Clifford Ando on a British Academy/Leverhulme-funded project (2016-18) to investigate the significance of Roman citizenship in the century before Caracalla’s universal of citizenship in 212 CE; the project has produced an edited volume just out from Oxford University Press.

Another ongoing project, Probabilistic approaches to uncertainty in pre-modern history (funded by an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, 2017-2019), has led to an edited volume showcasing the wide range of application of probabilistic approaches in ancient history. Co-edited with Daniel Jew and Bart Danon, The Uncertain Past: Probability in Ancient History is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, hopefully later this year.

I am also working on edited volumes on the Roman discourse of unrest, with Lisa Eberle, and on the history of the term Romanus, with Olivia Elder.

 Research interests

  • Political, social and cultural history of the Roman empire
  • Roman citizenship
  • Slavery and manumission
  • Ideology and language of empire
  • Quantitative methods in ancient history
  • Comparative history of ancient empires

Research students

I would be very happy to supervise research projects in any of these areas. I have supervised PhD dissertations on:

  • Roman law in Tacitus
  • The imperial salutatio
  • Modelling the distribution of wealth in the Roman empire
  • The significance of civitates in the Roman West
  • Images of foreign peoples and place in Roman art
  • Writing the lives of Roman emperors
  • Roman land division
  • Actor Network Theory approaches to Early Roman Iberia
  • The Triumviral aristocracy

Profile Keywords

Political, social and cultural history of the Roman empire; imperialism; slavery; citizenship; quantitative methods

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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