School of History, Classics & Archaeology

About our staff

Photo of Gavin Kelly

Professor Gavin Kelly

MA, MPhil, DPhil

Professor of Latin Literature and Roman History and Head of Classics Subject Area; Classics


Contact information
Address: Room 1.11, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place
Telephone: +44 (0)131 650 3581
Office hours: 10-12 Tue, 9-11 Wed (11-12 Tue advanced Latin reading group, 10-11 Wed intermediate)

Head of Classics

REF Unit of Assessment Coordinator (till December 2018)


I first thought Classics was fun at the age of 9, when I saw a repeat of I Claudius on TV; my enthusiasm was soon reinforced by a Penguin translation of Livy in my school library. History as literature and history from literature are still what interest me most, and most of what I publish combines elements of both literary criticism and political history. I read in Classics at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, from 1993 to 1996, winning the Chancellor’s Medal for Proficiency in Classical Learning. At Magdalen College, Oxford, I took the MPhil in Ancient History in 1998 and a Doctorate in 2002. After holding Research Fellowships at Peterhouse, Cambridge (2000-2004) and Manchester (2004-2005), I arrived in Edinburgh as Lecturer in Latin Literature in 2005. I was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2011, Reader in 2014, and Professor in 2016. I have also been a Fellow of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina (2010-2011), a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford (2014), and a Humboldt Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.

City gates

At one of the gates of Nicaea

Bright, committed students make it a joy to teach Latin language and literature at Edinburgh. Many of our students have had the good fortune to be taught Latin at school; the four-year course means that those new to the language have time to catch up. By the end of their fourth year, our students can come up with remarkably original and scholarly work. At Honours, I enjoy teaching both central canonical texts like Vergil, Tacitus, and Juvenal, and brilliant but less discovered authors like Ammianus and Rutilius Namatianus. Very occasionally, there’s time for me to teach late Roman history.

I enjoy supervising doctoral students on literature of the high and late Roman empire (both verse and prose, including commentaries and text critical studies), and on (late) Roman political history, and am pleased to hear from those considering an application. As well as the students listed on the PG supervision tab above, I am also external supervisor of PhDs on Claudian (Open University), Sidonius (San Marino), and Suetonius (St Andrews).


External appointments
  • Secretary of the Edinburgh and South East Centre, Classical Association of Scotland (2006-14)
  • Fellow, National Humanities Center (2010-11)
  • British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (2013-14)
  • ACLS Collaborative Fellowship (2014-15)
  • Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (2014)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (2015-2016)
  • President of the Edinburgh and South East Centre, Classical Association of Scotland (2015-2020)
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