Study here/Undergraduate studies/Available Subjects/
Classics

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 aiming for high 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 has been 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 in the second half of the course (Greats) leading to the final exam (Finals or ‘Schools’). Classics up to Mods will have a new course structure from 2025.  The focus will be on linguistic attainment and students will be placed into different streams, depending on what they have studied before coming up to Oxford.

After Mods, various course options will be available for students, with the study of Homer and Virgil a compulsory element of Greats.

Fellows

Professor Armand D’Angour

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

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 Jean Baccelli

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.

Lecturers

Dr Olivia Elder

Dr Elder is a Roman historian of the Republic and Empire. The main themes of her research include multilingualism, identity, migration, and citizenship in the Roman world, which she explores through the evidence of literature, inscriptions, and graffiti. She teaches Ancient History options both at Jesus and at Oriel College, where she is a Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History.

Additional teaching staff

Krasimir Ivanov

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 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 course can be found here.

Selection Criteria

The specific selection criteria are given on the department’s website here.

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 are required to submit two pieces (either essays or commentaries) by 10 November 2024. 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.

Interviews

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.

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

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 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.

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

Email: admissions.officer@jesus.ox.ac.uk
Web: www.jesus.ox.ac.uk