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Classics and English

Classics and English is a course designed to give students the opportunity to continue their study of both Classics and English, and in particular to investigate and reflect on the literary and linguistic relations between Great Britain and the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome.

It brings together three of the most important world languages and many of the texts which have exerted the most powerful influence over Western culture. Teaching takes the form of tutorials and classes, which will usually be organized and taken by the Fellows and Lecturers of the College (although those pursuing some of the more specialized options may receive tutorials from an outside tutor). Attendance at, and production of work for, tutorials and classes is compulsory, and must be given priority over all other activities.

The University organizes courses of lectures which cover the syllabus, but which are not compulsory, and which are not designed to prepare candidates for a particular examination paper. Tutors will, however, be happy to advise undergraduates concerning which lectures are likely to prove most beneficial.


The first year examination, Prelims, is taken after three terms. Candidates must offer the following five papers:

  • An Introduction to English Language and Literature
  • Early Modern English Literature 1550 – 1660
  • Unseen Translation [candidates may offer either Latin, or Greek, or both]
  • Greek and Latin Literature 1 (translation and comment)
  • Greek and Latin Literature 2 (literary essays)

The Final Examination (FHS), taken at the end of three years, allows great flexibility on both sides of the course, as well as providing extensive opportunity for candidates to explore the relations between the two sides of the course. Candidates take two papers chosen from the Classics FHS options (which may include one option from English Course II covering early periods of language and literature); two similar papers (i.e. topics or periods) drawn from the field of classical studies; and two ‘link’ papers.

All students take two link papers, one compulsory (Epic) and a choice out from;

  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Reception

Candidates must also write a dissertation, which is often (but not necessarily) related to an interdisciplinary theme.

Cultural and Intellectual Life

Students at Jesus find themselves welcomed into a serious, lively, and good-humoured academic community with every opportunity to discuss their thoughts in tutorials, seminars, and College events. The Herbert English Society provides a forum for exchange of ideas and discussion of literature, criticism, and the arts. The Society invites poets, playwrights, novelists, academics, journalists, and cultural historians. Recent speakers have included the Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri, Marina Warner, Philip Pullman, Bernard O’Donoghue, Craig Raine, Hermione Lee, Sally Shuttleworth, William St Clair, Blair Worden, and the acclaimed poet Geoffrey Hill.


Professor Armand D’Angour

Professor Armand D’Angour is Fellow and Tutor in Classics, and author of The Greeks and the New: Novelty in ancient Greek imagination and experience (2011) and Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosopher (2019). He has also co-edited (with Tom Phillips) Music, Text, and Culture in Ancient Greece (2018) and presented an online film ‘Rediscovering ancient Greek music’ (Youtube).

Dr Melinda Letts

Dr Melinda Letts, College Tutor in Latin and Greek Languages, teaches both languages to all Jesus Classics undergraduates, consolidating and developing the knowledge of those with A-levels and supplementing our elementary provision for those starting from scratch. She leads the College’s Active Latin and Greek initiative, which helps accelerate language acquisition in beginners and fosters a deeper understanding of the languages in intermediate and advanced students. Melinda explains more about learning Active Latin and Greek in an article here (Ars longa, vita brevis: Active Latin in the Classroom, Antigone) and in a YouTube video here ( Dead Language Talking: Latin For All in the 21st Century’).

Professor Paulina Kewes

Professor Paulina Kewes, Fellow and Tutor in English, teaches English literature from the Renaissance to the Romantics, including Shakespeare. Paulina’s research interests are in early modern literature (especially drama), history, and politics, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her publications include Authorship and Appropriation: Writing for the Stage in England, 1660-1710 (1998) and several edited or co-edited volumes: Plagiarism in Early Modern England (2003), The Uses of History in Early Modern England (2006), The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles (2013), Doubtful and Dangerous: The Question of Succession in Late Elizabethan England (2014), Stuart Succession Literature: Moments and Transformations (2019) as well as numerous articles on Shakespeare, Dryden, early modern drama, translation, plagiarism, historical writings, royal iconography, and political thought. She is currently writing the first interdisciplinary study of debates about the royal succession in the period from Henry VIII’s death in 1547 to the accession of James VI/I and union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, from a comparative British and European perspective. The book is contracted to Oxford University Press.

Professor Dirk Van Hulle

Professor Dirk Van Hulle teaches Bibliography, Genetic Criticism, Book History and (Digital) Scholarly Editing. His research interests are in modern manuscripts, notably by James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. With Mark Nixon, he is co-director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, series editor of the Cambridge UP series ‘Elements in Beckett Studies’ and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies. He is editor of the online journal Genetic Joyce Studies and member of the editorial board of the International Journal for Digital Humanities (Springer). His publications include Textual Awareness (Michigan UP, 2004), Modern Manuscripts (2014), Samuel Beckett’s Library (CUP, 2013, with Mark Nixon), The New Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett (CUP, 2015), James Joyce’s Work in Progress (Routledge,
2016), several volumes in the ‘Making of’ series (Bloomsbury) and genetic editions in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, including the Beckett Digital Library. His current projects include a monograph on Genetic Criticism for OUP, a digital edition of Samuel Beckett’s Murphy, the co-editing of a Comparative History of the Literary Draft (John Benjamins), and of the Oxford Handbook of Samuel Beckett (OUP).


Dr Amanda Holton

Dr Amanda Holton, Stipendiary Lecturer in English Language, teaches a paper on the English language at Jesus. She also teaches literature from 650 to 1550. Her principal research interests and publications are in Chaucer, the medieval and sixteenth-century love lyric, and poetics, with an emphasis on how form precedes and generates meaning. She is interested in interrogating the agendas which drive the taxonomy of poetic form, and in challenging the division still made between medieval and early modern literature.

Dr Ayoush Lazikani

Dr Ayoush Lazikani is a Departmental Lecturer during Professor Marion Turner’s leave. She is a SEDAaccredited tutor, teaching and lecturing in Old English and Middle English. As a researcher, Ayoush works in the history of emotions, specializing in devotional writing of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. Her research considers English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin texts, and she has particular interests in literature written for religious recluses. Ayoush’s first book, Cultivating the Heart: Feeling and Emotion in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Religious Texts (University of Wales Press, 2015), studied the languages of feeling – especially the interrelated affections of compassion, love, and sorrow – in texts and church wall paintings. Her second book, Emotion in Christian and Islamic Contemplative Texts, c. 1100-1250, is due to be published in 2021.

Dr Amy Lidster

Dr Amy Lidster is a Departmental Lecturer and teaches English literature from 1550 to 1830. Her principal research interests are in Shakespeare, early modern drama, and book history, with an emphasis on conditions of theatrical and textual production and reception. Amy is the author of Publishing the History Play in the Time of Shakespeare: Stationers Shaping a Genre (CUP 2022) and Wartime Shakespeare: Performing Narratives of Conflict (CUP 2023), and co-editor of Shakespeare at War: A Material History (CUP 2023), which is linked to a public exhibition at the National Army Museum (‘Shakespeare and War’). She is working on a third monograph project: Authorships and Authority in Early Modern Dramatic Paratexts is supported by a fellowship from the Society for Renaissance Studies, and considers how playbook paratexts helped to develop and negotiate ideas of ‘authorship’ during the early modern period.

Dr Joseph Hankinson

Dr Hankinson studied English at Balliol College, completing his DPhil in 2020 under the supervision of Professor Matthew Reynolds. He has taught at St Hilda’s College, St Anne’s College, and The Queen’s College, and worked as the Co-ordinator of the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Research Centre (OCCT), based at St Anne’s, where he currently leads a research strand on Comparative African Literatures. Dr Hankinson’s research explores questions of kinship, belonging, foreignness, and style, with a particular focus on Atlantic literary culture from the period between 1860 and the present day. His work routinely involves the tracing of relations which proliferate beyond temporal and geographical boundaries, and the development of innovative comparative methodologies—two activities united in his first book, which stages an encounter between the Victorian poet Robert Browning and the contemporary Ghanaian poet and novelist Kojo Laing.

The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 15 October. Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.

Places available at Jesus College

The College admits around five candidates each year across Classics and Joint Schools among a total College entry of around 100 undergraduates.

Academic requirements

Academic requirements for this subject can be found here.

Selection criteria

The specific selection criteria are given on the Classics and English websites.

Admissions tests

All candidates must take the relevant section(s) of the Classics Admissions Test (CAT) as part of their application. The registration date and test date will be confirmed on the University’s website soon. Everything you need to know, including how to register and guidance on how to prepare, can be found here.

Written work

Candidates should submit two pieces of written work, one relevant to English, and one relevant to Classics. The deadline to submit written work is 10 November 2024. Further information on the written work requirements can be viewed here.

Deferred Entry

Please refer to the Departmental website for subject-specific advice.

The Tutors have no objection in principle to offering a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.

You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest of the cohort for their subject, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.

Joint Schools

Classics and English can both be studied as a single discipline and are also available as a joint course as follows:

In Oxford there is a larger concentration of teachers of classical subjects, and of graduate students, than anywhere else in the world.

The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:

  • M.St (1 year) or MPhil (2 years) Greek and/or Latin Language and Literature
  • M.St or MPhil Greek and/or Roman History
  • DPhil Classics

The Graduate School of the Oxford Faculty of English is large and dynamic. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:

  • DPhil in English Language and Literature
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (650 -1550)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1550-1700)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1700-1830)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1830-1914)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1900- Present)
  • M.St. English and American Studies
  • M.Phil. English Studies (Medieval Period)
  • M.St. World Literatures in English

Graduates in Classics and English go on to a wide variety of careers, including broadcasting, teaching, journalism, acting, management, advertising, librarianship and law, or have continued further study in their subject.

If you have any questions about entrance requirements, or about applying to study at Jesus College, please contact the Admissions Officer: