Director of Studies: Professor Caroline Vout
Other Fellows in Classics:
- Professor David Sedley
- Professor Gabor Betegh
- Dr Henry Spelman
- Dr Maya Feile Tomes
- Dr Edward Zychowicz-Coghill
Number of students admitted each year: normally 4 - 6
A degree in Classics gives students the tools to examine the art, architecture, literature and philosophy of peoples who lived over 2,000 years ago. Western literature, political structures, sculpture and cityscapes would look very different without the influence of Greece and Rome. We are in constant dialogue with our past. The field of Classics is expanding as archaeologists find new artefacts for us to study. Existing evidence is also being re-assessed as we draw on approaches from related fields such as Film Theory, Cognitive Science and Gender Studies.
At Cambridge, Classics is not just studied as a period set in the past, but with a view to how classical culture, language and philosophy have affected the history of civilisation in the West right up to the present. Historically Cambridge has long been a major centre for the study of the classical world. Today its Faculty of Classics is recognised internationally as one of the most dynamic departments of its kind, with an exceptionally distinguished record in teaching and research. Being one of the longest-established faculties, it also has substantial funds, which enable it to make generous provision for undergraduate prizes and bursaries, and grants for travel to Greece and Italy.
The role of the Classics Faculty and the role of Colleges
Every student at Cambridge must be a member of one or other of the 29 Colleges for undergraduates of the University. The course content, lectures and examinations are the responsibility of the University's Faculty of Classics, and are the same for every student reading Classics at Cambridge regardless of their college. Lectures are given in the Faculty of Classics on the Sidgwick Site, approximately 10-15 minutes walk from Christ's. Some classes are also taught in the Faculty's Museum of Classical Archaeology, which can be found on the first floor of the Faculty building.
Colleges are responsible for the selection and admission of undergraduates, the provision of social facilities such as accommodation, and ongoing personal and academic support. Every college has a Director of Studies in Classics, part of whose job is to advise students in their choice of options and to arrange supervisions for them. Supervisions are tutorial teaching sessions in small groups or singly, and are one of the major advantages of a Cambridge education, providing individually tailored help and tuition. They offer a more directed and tailored approach to a student’s own work than is possible at most other universities, where similar material can only be covered in example classes involving much larger numbers of students. Each College makes its own arrangements for supervisions.
Classics at Christ's
The Classics community at Christ's usually numbers around 20 students in total in any given year, 4 or 5 undergraduates in each study year and 2 graduate students in each study year. Christ's has its own Classics Society, which organizes talks by visiting speakers, reading groups, museum visits and social events including an annual dinner. Students with interests beyond Classics may also attend almost any other lectures in the University; many members of the University take advantage of this in order to learn or improve a foreign language. In some cases it may be possible to use this study to gain a formal qualification (Certificate or Diploma) in a foreign language (e.g. modern Greek) in addition to a student’s degree. There are also many academic societies in Cambridge which arrange talks that may be of interest to students of Classics [e.g. the undergraduate-run, Herodoteans]. For those keen to do some acting, there is also the Cambridge Greek play which is regularly directed by a professional director and attracts audiences from all over the country. It is produced once every three years, so that everyone has the opportunity to take part in it during their time as an undergraduate. Every year the Christ's Classicists attend the performance as a group.
Carrie Vout is University Professor in Classics and a teaching fellow of the College. She is a historian and art historian who publishes widely on the art and text of Greece, Rome, and their reception. If you want to know what Carrie's writing looks like, try Sex on Show: Seeing the Erotic in Greece and Rome (British Museum Press, 2013). She has just completed a book entitled Classical Art: a Life History from Antiquity to the Present (Princeton University Press) and is an editor of the schools Classics magazine, Omnibus. She has curated exhibitions (at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Henry Moore Institute), appeared on television and on Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time and on Woman’s Hour.
David Sedley is the University's Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy Emeritus. He supervises for the college on a regular basis, principally in ancient philosophy. He has in the past frequently served as its Director of Studies in Classics. His books include one on Lucretius and two on Plato, and his most recent is the published version of his Sather Lectures (delivered in 2004 at the University of California, Berkeley) on the theme Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity. He frequently gives talks or runs weekend courses for the public, on ancient philosophy and science. He has also written for Omnibus and appeared on In Our Time on BBC Radio 4, most recently on Socrates.
Gábor Betegh is the University's Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy. He works on ancient philosophy, in particular on ancient metaphysics, cosmology, theology, and the connections between ancient philosophy and the history of religions. He published The Derveni Papyrus: Cosmology, Theology and Interpretation (CUP, 2004) and co-edited with Julia Annas Cicero’s De Finibus: Philosophical Approaches (CUP, 2015). Prior to being elected in Cambridge, he worked at the Central European University, Budapest.
The W. H. D. Rouse Research Fellowship, which in most years provides the College with an additional classical fellow, gives Christ's four fellows in Classics. Currently the Research Fellowship is held by Henry Spelman. Henry’s interests revolve around Greek and Latin lyric poetry (broadly defined to include iamb and elegy) and whatever is relevant to these texts. He takes the latter to include most everything about the ancient world. Henry has recently finished a book on Pindar (forthcoming, Oxford University Press) and is now embarking on a new project on the reception of epic in early Greek lyric. Within Christ’s he teaches Greek and Latin literature.
Currently, the College is fortunate to have a fifth Classicist, Junior Research Fellow, Maya Feile Tomes. Maya works at the intersection between Classics and modern languages and, specifically, between Latin and Spanish. Her research concerns the 16th to 18th centuries. She is particularly interested in the question of how literary-cultural frameworks developed by the ‘ancient’ (i.e. Greco-Roman) cultures of the Mediterranean came to be radically adjusted to accommodate ‘new’ geographies and experiences of which the European ancients had no conception, and, in turn, in the emergence and development of new literary cultures across the early modern Iberian imperial world. More broadly, she is interested in the reception of the classical tradition in Iberian contexts in general, and, likewise, in Hispanophone and Lusophone literature of a wide variety of periods. She teaches Latin and Spanish language and literature for Christ’s and in the Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) and Classics Faculties; she is always especially happy to hear from anyone interested in the interface between the two.
Research Fellow, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill is also based in the University’s Faculty of Classics. A historian, specialising in Late Antique and Byzantine material, Edward is a postdoctoral researcher on the Faculty’s Impact of the Ancient City project.
Tom and Sebastian both study Classics here at Christ's College. They have written about their experiences of studying Classics in their student profiles:
If you would like to read more accounts from Christ's students, please see the student profiles page.
"My favourite thing about the first year (Part 1A) course is how broad it is: how many subjects there are, and how many angles to look on the ancient world."
How to apply
Applicants for the three year Classics course must take Latin at A-Level, IB Higher Level or equivalent. If you are taking A Level/IB Higher Level Greek but not Latin, please contact us for further information. Please also read the Classics Faculty advice.
No specific subjects are required for the four year Classics course. We advise that the following subjects give useful preparation: Classical Civilisation, English (Language or Literature), History, a language (ancient or modern), and recommend that you also read the Classics Faculty advice.
Christ's asks its Classics applicants to supply one example of marked written work that you feel accurately reflects your abilities and interests. In all cases work submitted must be your own original work, written in English and not more than 2,000 words in length. Normally it will have been completed during your normal course of AS or A level study and have been marked by your usual teacher. Full written work guidelines will be provided as part of the current applicants section on this website (published by 20 September each year).
Interviews are held in early December: applicants will usually have two academic interviews at Christ's and a third at another college. The Christ's interviews will cover a range of topics based on the submitted application form and SAQ (for example, set-texts, wider reading, personal statement). If you are applying for the three-year course, one of the interviews may also ask you to translate a very short piece of Latin or, if appropriate, Greek, orally (those applying for the three-year course are normally expected to be studying an A-level or equivalent in Latin).
Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section. In the case of Classics, international applicants are advised to apply for interview in Cambridge rather than an overseas interview (Classics is one of the restricted subjects).
All those applying to the University of Cambridge for Classics who are called for interviews will also be asked to sit a written Admissions Assessment while in Cambridge, normally on the same day as their interviews. We organise this for you - there is nothing that you need to do to register.
The same assessment (different for the 3- and 4-year Classics courses) will be used regardless of the College to which you have applied. This assessment will examine your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, and will form part of our holistic admissions process. Further information, including example papers and subject content, can be found on the University website.
Christ's College does not have fixed quotas of places for different subjects and the exact numbers admitted in any one year will depend upon the strengths of the fields of applicants in various subjects. However, the College's aim is to admit around 4 students each year in Classics.
Our typical offer is A*AA at A-level, 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects, or equivalent grades in other systems - although the precise terms of each offer are assessed individually. The international students section has further information about typical offers for other qualifications. If you will have already finished school when you apply, please see the page for post-qualification applications.
If you are able to come to a College Open Day, we will be glad to tell you more about the College and the course in person. If you are not able to come and would like to arrange a visit on an alternative date, or you have any Classics-specific queries, please e-mail the DoS, Carrie Vout. Carrie’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. For more general admissions queries, please contact: email@example.com.