About the Institute

The Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA) closed its doors in summer 2017. BIRTHA was launched in October 2004 under the leadership of Professor Charles Martindale (Classics and Ancient History), to support research activity across the Faculty of Arts.

Since 2004, it has funded, facilitated and promoted interdisciplinary research initiatives led by staff and postgraduates, in the form of conferences, research programmes, workshops and symposia. In addition, BIRTHA has organized 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. In its final years, BIRTHA also supported a wide range of public-engagement events, reflecting the increasingly public-facing mission of Arts and Humanities research.

The closure of BIRTHA marks a new phase in the life of the Faculty, with the establishment of a new Faculty Research Office and the launch of six new Research Centres. As was the case with BIRTHA, these new bodies are 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