Oxford has the largest Classics department in the world, with unparalleled teaching, library and museum resources and a wealth of extracurricular activities including performances of Greek plays.
Jesus College welcomes candidates for all the language-based Classics courses offered by Oxford: Classics, Classics and English, and Classics and Modern Languages.
Jesus College is known for its beautiful quads, friendly atmosphere, good food and generous student facilities. It is relatively small and centrally-placed, and most of its undergraduates and postgraduates live in College accommodation. We aim to give Classics places to keen, hard-working students with open minds and varied interests, who enjoy engaging in literary study and are prepared to engage with the broad and unremitting challenge of the Classics.
Teaching takes place in weekly tutorials and discussion groups (mainly in College, sometimes with outside tutors), in combination with university classes and lectures. Academic standards are extremely high. The satisfaction of attaining high standards of intellectual achievement in a lively and supportive environment makes studying at Jesus College a rewarding and memorable experience.
Since 2019 Jesus College has pioneered the use of Active Latin, that is the method of teaching Latin in Latin. This has proved popular and academically productive, and from 2022 the method is being extended to teaching Attic Greek in the original language. Students taught by the active method can expect to graduate with unusual fluency in speaking and reading one or both of the ancient languages.
The four-year Classics course, known as Greats or Lit. Hum. (Literae Humaniores) is divided into two parts. The first-part exam, Mods (short for Moderations), is taken after five terms (i.e. two thirds of the way through the second year); the focus is on knowledge of the classical languages and their literature, though there are also opportunities to study philosophy, ancient history, archaeology, and linguistics. These subjects also feature, together with further study of the literature, as options for the final exam (Finals). The Classics course has various subdivisions, depending on what candidates have studied before coming up to Oxford:
Course 1 – for those with prior knowledge of Latin and/or Greek
1A – for students with both Greek and Latin up to A-level standard
1B – for students with Latin up to A-level standard, but little or no Greek
1C – for students with Greek up to A-level standard, but little or no Latin
Course 1A Mods
Course IA Mods consists of exams in Homer, Virgil, a range of Greek and Latin texts, two special subjects and two language papers (including translation into Latin and Greek). The Latin side of Course 1B is the same as that for 1A, but the Greek side concentrates on language, with a more restricted range of texts. Course IC follows the same pattern as IB but with the languages reversed. After Mods, 1B and IC candidates follow the same course as those who came up with A-level Latin and Greek. The course is intensive and demanding, so good linguistic gifts and a sound knowledge of one classical language are required.
Course II – for those who have not studied either language
IIA – for students who opt to learn Latin for Mods
IIB – for students who opt to learn Greek for Mods
The first part of Course II (up to Mods) consists of an intensive language course in either Latin or Greek. After Mods, similar options are available as for Course 1 candidates, as well as the option to take a further intensive course in the other classical language.
Prof 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, 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’).
Prof Phillips-Brown is a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy. He teaches General Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, AI Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Logic and Language, Philosophical Logic, and Logic.
Prof Baccelli is a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy. He teaches Introduction to Logic, General Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Science and Social Science.
Dr Elder researches multilingualism, identity, migration and citizenship in the Roman world, using a range of evidence including inscriptions, letters and graffiti. She teaches Roman History options at Jesus and at Oriel College, where she is joint Ancient History lecturer.
Additional teaching staff
Krasimir Ivanov comes from Bulgaria, where he studied at the National Classical Lyceum and later graduated in classical philology from Sofia University. He became fluent in Latin when studying at the Vivarium Novum Academy in Rome. Since 2015 he has been a part of a research group cataloguing the collection of the Zographou Monastery in Mount Athos, Greece. For the last five years he has taught Latin for Oxford Latinitas, and he has been teaching Active Latin classes at Jesus since Michaelmas Term 2021.
His main research interests are the use of the Active Method in teaching ancient languages, particularly its development to meet the needs of 21st century students; and the history of the middle and late Roman Republic, where he is looking for the reasons why, in Sallust’s words, paulatim immutata ex pulcherruma atque optuma pessuma ac flagitiosissuma facta sit (it gradually changed from being the finest and best of states to become the worst and most shameful).
The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 16 October (please note that this date is usually 15 October, except where this date falls on a weekend). 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 for this course can be found here.
The specific selection criteria are given on the department’s website here.
All candidates must take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered by the deadline of 29 September 2023. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including how to register and guidance on how to prepare, can be found can be found here.
The CAT is in three sections: the Latin test, the Greek test and the Classics Language Aptitude Test. 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 are required to submit two pieces (either essays or commentaries) by 10 November 2023. 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. Further information on the written work requirements can be viewed here.
Interviewers will be looking for evidence of ability to respond in a thoughtful way to unpredictable questions and ideas. They will also be looking for evidence that the candidate’s interest goes beyond a mere formal submission to their academic training, and that they are able to deploy their knowledge in ways that show initiative.
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.
The following undergraduate joint courses are available at Jesus College:
Classics and Modern Languages may be taken as either a four-year or five-year course, which includes a year abroad in the third or fourth year. One option is to take a first exam consisting of papers in the Modern Language and one classical language (Modern Languages Prelims) after three terms. The more ample option is to take Classics Mods (either Course I or II) after five terms and then transfer to the Joint School, in which papers from the Lit. Hum. Courses are combined with papers in Modern Languages.
Classics and English is a three-year course which offers the opportunity to study either or both classical languages together with English literature. Prelims are taken after three terms, and involve papers in both subjects. A feature of the second part of the course is the study of ‘link’ subjects such as Epic and Tragedy, which include both classical and English works within a particular genre.
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:
- MSt (1 year) or MPhil (2 years) Greek and/or Latin Language and Literature
- MSt or MPhil Greek and/or Roman History
- DPhil Classics
Classics requires intense critical engagement with languages, literature and history, and encompasses philosophy, art and archaeology. This makes it a varied and demanding course of study, and the aim at Oxford is to take it to the highest possible level. Lively and dedicated attention to a subject of such breadth and depth offers incalculable personal enrichment and also leaves students well prepared to excel in a wide variety of careers and professions. Students who have pursued a subject they enjoy can respond to new intellectual challenges with freshness and creative acumen.
Classics graduates are highly employable: classicists enjoy successful careers in fields as diverse as accountancy, advertising, computing, finance, law, industry, public administration, social work, and teaching.
Please use the links below for further information: