About the Institute

The Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA) was launched on 25 October 2004 under the leadership of Professor Charles Martindale (Classics and Ancient History), in order to support research activity across the Faculty of Arts.

BIRTHA exists to fund and facilitate research initiatives across the Faculty of Arts. This is accomplished largely through BIRTHA’s flexible funding schemes. These schemes support both staff and postgraduates to undertake research endeavours through, for example, the running of conferences or the organization of interdisciplinary projects and events. Successful applicants must acknowledge the support received by BIRTHA in all promotional and press activity in accordance with the guidelines on BIRTHA's visual identity. In addition to these funding schemes, BIRTHA organizes academic talks for the Faculty of Arts as well as the wider university community. These include the BIRTHA Lecture, which features scholars of international renown, and the BIRTHA Debate, where staff and students come together to discuss questions of academic relevance. Summaries of past and future BIRTHA activities, plans and announcements can be found in our annual newsletter.

Although BIRTHA works in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts Research Committee, it is an independent body and not part of the University committee structure. BIRTHA's policy is determined by the executive committee headed by the Director of BIRTHA and supported by the BIRTHA Co-ordinator with advice from the external board.

The Faculty of Arts is administratively organised into three schools comprising a number of academic departments and research centres. The faculty is committed to collaborations between its constituent departments and offers a wide range of postgraduate programmes.

BIRTHA is part of the process by which the faculty seeks to build on its successes, increase its international reputation, explore current research frontiers and open new ones.


The present Director of BIRTHA is Dr Ruth Glynn (School of Modern Languages).

Previous directors:

  • Professor Charles Martindale (Department of Classics and Ancient History), BIRTHA Director, 2004-06
  • Professor Tim Unwin (Department of French), BIRTHA Director, 2006-09
  • Professor Derek Offord (Department of Russian), BIRTHA Director, 2009-11
  • Professor Carolyn Muessig (Department of Theology and Religious Studies), BIRTHA Director, 2011-14
  • Professor Chris Bertram (Department of Philosophy), BIRTHA Director, 2014-16