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. The College admits around five candidates each year across these subjects.

 

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 350 undergraduates and 230 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.

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.

Joint Schools

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. Mods 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.

If you have any questions about our entrance requirements, or about applying to study at Jesus College, please contact the Admissions Officer:
Tel: 01865 279721
Email: admissions.officer@jesus.ox.ac.uk

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 Joe Cunningham

Dr Joe Cunningham is a Career Development Lecturer in Philosophy. He works in and teaches Logic, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Language, Ethics, Early Modern Philosophy, and Philosophy of Cognitive Science.

Dr Aneurin Ellis-Evans

Dr Aneurin Ellis-Evans, Lecturer in Ancient History (based at Oriel), is author of The Kingdom of Priam: Lesbos and the Troad between Anatolia and the Aegean (2019), and is researching the history of literary production in the Greek city-states of the Hellenistic period.

Dr Melinda Letts

Dr Melinda Letts, College Tutor in Latin and Greek Languages, undertakes the language teaching required for students; both reinforcing their A-level classical languages and those starting from scratch.

Details of the undergraduate admissions process are available in the Oxford University prospectus and here.

Selection of candidates is on the basis of the UCAS reference and previous academic record (e.g. GCSEs), written work, interview, and performance in short written tests.

Academic requirements:

Offers made to candidates will be conditional upon A-level results (AAA) or equivalent qualifications. For Course IA, Latin and Greek at A2 level are required. For Course 1B, Latin is required to A2 level or equivalent. The course is designed for absolute beginners in Greek, but most undergraduates taking it will have some knowledge (e.g. from the JACT Summer School or GCSE Greek),
and it can be an advantage to have a Modern Language A-level. Similar conditions apply to Course 1C.

For Course II, GCSE level in Latin or Greek is desirable and a strong interest in and aptitude for language and for Classics should be demonstrable (e.g. good exam results in a modern language). Course II candidates should also be prepared to learn the basics of one language at a summer school prior to embarking on the course.

Written test:

Candidates must take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT) on 3 November 2021. The test is administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, and the registration deadline is 15 October 2021. 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. More information about the test, including how to register, can be found here. 

Written work:

Applicants are required to submit two pieces (either essays or commentaries) by 10 November 2021. 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 can be viewed here.

Deferred Entry:

Applications may be made for deferred entry to Jesus. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford, and cannot change your mind after an offer has been made. Please refer to departmental web sites for subject-specific advice. Applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will need to be among the strongest of the cohort for their subject, so as not to disadvantage the following year’s candidates. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead. If you require any further advice, please contact the Admissions Officer: admissions.officer@jesus.ox.ac.uk

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.

Further information about Classics at Oxford can be found here.

Admissions information can be found here.