You should study Classics only if you are passionate about it. At university level, there is a huge step up from A-Level competencies, but one that is entirely manageable provided you have strong fundamentals and a willingness to learn. The basic requirements are Latin at A-Level (or equivalent qualiﬁcation), considerable enthusiasm for the subject, and a willingness to work hard on what is renowned as one of the most diﬃcult course.
The course offers a unique opportunity to study across a wide range of disciplines like no other. In the context of the classics you may study poetry, politics, philosophy, gender issues, war, prehistory, oratory, sculpture, the evolution of language, and the earliest theory of atoms and science – all within a short space of time. The subject certainly keeps you on your toes and has something for everyone.
When applying to Oxbridge, you will have to complete a UCAS form before the October 15th deadline. Candidates are only allowed to apply to one of Oxford or Cambridge, and they can choose to apply to a particular college, or make an open application. As part of the UCAS form, you will have to write a 4000 character personal statement, and a teacher will have to provide a reference. The institution code for Cambridge is CAM C05 and for Oxford is O33.
The UCAS code for undergraduate Classics is Q800 at Oxford and Q800 BA/CGL for the three-year course or Q801 BA/CGL4 for the four year course at Cambridge. Applicants may only apply for Oxford or Cambridge, but not both. It is usual to stipulate a choice of college in the UCAS application, although both universities allow you to make an ‘open’ application via that university’s central admissions office which will then allocate you to a particular. Those wishing to make and open application should enter a ‘9’ in the campus choice box on their UCAS form
Cambridge Undergraduate Course requirements:
Cambridge is one of the top few universities in the world and the Cambridge Classics department is one of the finest in the UK. The 3 year course is suitable for those who have studied Latin, regardless of whether they have studied greek, whereas the 4 year course is suited for those who have no Latin prior study. Years 2, 3 and 4 are identical to the three years of the three-year degree.
Several other options are available, including combining Classical Greek or Classical Latin with a modern language.
Admissions are handled by individual colleges, but the procedures and requirements are broadly similar. In order to assess applicants for the course, all colleges require evidence of potential to work at a much higher level than A-level. In almost all cases, this will take the form of a pre-submitted school essay, but may also involve an additional test at interview.
A Level: A*AA
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
Oxford Undergraduate Course requirements:
Like Cambridge, there are very few compulsory subjects at Oxford, but having studied Latin and Greek is preferable, if only because it shows your commitment and passion, as well as proficiency in the subject. Classics is a logical subject, so the only prerequisite is that you need to show that you can argue clearly and concisely as you discuss problems in the context of a supervision and among your peers. For some of you, this way of thinking will be your goal. Others will want to see what further can be discovered.
A-levels: AAA with A’s in Latin and Greek, if taken.
• Advanced Highers: AA/AAB with A’s in Latin and Greek, if taken.
• IB: 39 including core points with 7, 6, 6 at Higher level and an aggregate of 13 in Latin and Greek, if taken.
If shortlisted for interview, these will be predominantly academic. You may be asked to discuss problems of a type that you have never seen before where the interiewers want to see how you can respond and how intellectually plastic you are, rather than find out simply what you have been taught. This has to do with a candidate’s potential to think imaginatively, deeply and in a structured manner about the huge volume of sources in Classics.
Tutors will, in addition to assessing aptitude and technical skills, seek in successful candidates:
A. an enquiring minds,
B. the ability to think and work independently, and
C. perseverance and enthusiasm,
As part of your application you will be required to submit two essays or commentaries. Normally these will be in areas relevant to Classics. They should preferably not be short, timed essays or exercises answering questions on a short passage of text.
All candidates must take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT), normally at their own school or college. This test is in three parts: the Latin test, the Greek test and the Classics Language Aptitude Test and each part lasts an hour. Candidates who are studying Latin or Greek to A-level or equivalent (those applying for Course I) must take the test(s) in the language(s) you are studying. Candidates who are studying neither Latin nor Greek to A-level or equivalent (those applying for Course II) must take the Classics Language Aptitude Test.
Candidates taking joint schools, that is either Classics with Modern languages or Classics with English will also have to take the relevant entrance exams for their subject.
Common questions regarding the Oxford and Cambridge Classics Courses:
Is there a difference between Oxford and Cambridge?
How do I know I’m clever enough for such an academic degree?
Will tutors be looking to see if I will make a good Classicist or are they only looking at my grades?
What careers can I pursue after Classics?
Mentors will be answering these and any other questions at Schools’ Interview Preparation Days or during Private tuition. Alternatively, read some of our blog entries or send us an email and we will try to help you out as best we can.