Classics is the study of the languages, literature, history, philosophy, art and archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.
Latin and Greek language are compulsory elements of the Classics course. Students may opt for the 3 year course if they have A level (or equivalent) in one or both languages, but it is equally possible to study Classics without any previous experience or the languages by opting for the 4 year course.
Classics (3 year) course
Latin A level (or equivalent) is normally an essential requirement for the Classics (3 year) course. Applicants may also have Greek A level (or equivalent) but many start the 3-year course without having studied Greek at all, or with some limited experience of the language (e.g. to GCSE or equivalent): on arrival, all students are taught at the appropriate level, whatever their background. Further to this, no particular subject combinations are more desirable than others.
The 3 year course gives students an opportunity not only to read a wide range of ancient authors in the original Greek or Latin, but also to experience and specialise in other disciplines including philosophy, art, history and linguistics. The diverse range of linguistic and analytical skills taught through the Classics degree is highly valued in the jobs market and Classics students go on to a very wide variety of successful careers, from the more obvious sectors such as teaching, heritage and law, to less obvious ones such as computing and finance.
Classics (4 year) course
No specific A level (or equivalent) subjects are required for the Classics (4 year) course: many students on this course are beginners in Latin and Greek, although some may have GCSE (or equivalent) in one or both languages. Experience of learning a modern language can be helpful as preparation for studying ancient languages, but is not a requirement. Further to this, no particular subject combinations are more desirable than others. What we are looking for is commitment to, and enthusiasm for, learning about classical culture.
Students on the 4 year course spend their first year focusing on Latin, after which they join students beginning the 3 year course (see further above), learning Greek at the same time. The 4 year course is challenging, but is also extremely rewarding, training students in an enviable range of skills from art appreciation and literary criticism to philosophy and philology. All texts are read in the original language, allowing a better understanding of ancient authors than can be achieved ‘second hand’ through someone else’s translation. Wolfson is particularly open to applications for the 4-year course from students; they are invited, if they wish, to discuss the possibility of doing the course, and the best preparation for it, with the college's Director of Studies, and/or the Faculty's language teaching officers, in advance of making an application.
Classics (2 year Affiliated degree)
Applicants who will, at the time of entry, have already obtained an undergraduate degree from another university can apply to study for the Affiliated BA in Classics. This is a two year course during which a student takes five individual papers offered at Part II of the Classical Tripos, one of which may be replaced by a 10,000 word examined thesis. There is no language requirement for the Affiliated degree. Please see the faculty website for further information.
See also Entrance requirements for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.
Wolfson welcomes mature students of all ages for Classics, and has been offering places to increasing numbers of candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, both from the UK and abroad; recent students have been predominantly in their early or mid twenties, with some in their thirties.
Wolfson generally has a small and supportive group of people interested in the Classics, with varying numbers of postgraduate students and academic visitors, as well as more permanent senior members, available to encourage our mature undergraduates. Of all the mature colleges, Wolfson currently has the largest undergraduate cohort, typically admitting two students per year. As with every college, we will make use of a selection of supervisors from throughout the university to support students' work, so that they are taught by experts in each field of study.
Candidates will be asked to supply two pieces of written work in advance of their interview. This writing sample should be on a subject related to Classics if at all possible; where it is not possible, candidates typically submit pieces written for other Arts and Humanities subjects such as English literature or history. If you are worried about what to submit, do contact the Director of Studies.
Candidates will be asked to sit a written assessment before interview. You can find information for assessment arrangements for the 4-year and 3-year course on the University Undergraduate prospectus here.
At interview, engagement with, and enthusiasm for, the subject will be explored by the course Director of Studies and Admissions Tutor. As part of this interview applicants for the 3 year course will normally be asked to translate a short piece of Latin or Greek. Applicants for the 4 year course will have their language aptitude tested outside of the College, in a separate interview at the Classics Faculty, but may also be asked language-related questions in their College interview.
Most candidates for Classics will also have a subject interview at a second college, and you will be informed of this in advance.