Imagine how Western literature, politics, sculpture and cityscapes would look without the influence of Greece and Rome? A Classics degree gives you the tools to examine the art, architecture, literature and philosophy of peoples who lived over 2000 years ago. Cambridge has long been a major centre for study of the classical world. And our Faculty of Classics is internationally known as one of the most dynamic of its kind for teaching and research.
- Why study Classics at Christ's?
- Course content and structure
- What do our students think?
- How to apply
- Helpful resources
- Come to an Open Day or Online Event
- What to know more?
Why study Classics at Christ's?
Christ’s is a very special place to study Classics. We usually have around 20 Classics students at any one time, with 4-6 undergraduates in each study year and two graduate students.
Our very own Classics Society organises talks, reading groups, museum visits and social events, including an annual dinner and the now-legendary summer punting trip. They also attend talks organised by other academic societies in the university together - there are many events that are of interest to Classics students. And if you’re keen to try some acting, the professionally-directed Cambridge Greek Play attracts audiences from all over the UK, including Christ's Classicists who – if they’re not already taking part – go as a group. Activities such as these create a real sense of community at the College.
Many former graduates now teach classical subjects at universities worldwide, including Gabor Betegh (Budapest), George Boys-Stones (Toronto) and Mark Buchan (Columbia). The scholars J.N. Adams (Oxford), David Johnston (later Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge), Margaret Atkins (scholar of Cicero and Augustine) and Greg Woolf (Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, London) were all classical Research Fellows at the College.
Other graduates have gone on to work in fields including broadcasting, law, accountancy, banking, consultancy, teaching and research.
Course content and structure
At Cambridge, we don’t just see Classics as a period set in the past. Here, you study with a view to how classical culture, language and philosophy have affected the history of Western civilisation right up to the present. We are, after all, 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.
The Classics course (or ‘tripos’) is either a three year degree or a four year degree, depending on which subjects you have studied at school. Please visit the University website for full details of the Classics course content and structure.
Christ’s is lucky to have a number of experienced Classicists under its roof:
- Professor David Sedley Director of Studies,Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy Emeritus
- Professor Caroline Vout University Professor in Classics and a teaching fellow of the College
- Professor Gabor Betegh Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy
- Dr Maya Feile Tomes Junior Research Fellow
Christ’s College’s Director of Studies in Classics Prof Caroline Vout can advise you on choosing options and arrange your supervisions. These are tutorial teaching sessions – one-to-one or in small groups – that provide help and tuition tailored to your personal work. As other universities usually tutor in much larger groups, this approach is a real advantage of a Cambridge education.
If you’re struggling with Greek or Latin, essay-writing, or job applications, our Fellows are happy to help. They get to know each student well so they can tweak their supervisions accordingly. The Christ's Awards mean that the College can offer undergraduate prizes, bursaries and travel grants to Classical lands, as well as enable students to do modern language courses or stay in College during vacations for study.
Lectures take place in the Faculty of Classics, a short walk from Christ's, with some classes in the Museum of Classical Archaeology, which can be found on the first floor of the same building.
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 your degree.
What do our students think?
Read about the experiences of some of the Christ's College Classics students:
"My favourite thing about the first year course is how broad it is: how many subjects there are, and how many angles to look on the ancient world."
University-wide statement: In order to minimise Covid-related risks to our applicants, students and staff in the coming undergraduate admissions round, we are making plans to interview applicants this year without requiring them to travel to Cambridge in December. We will release further details about alternative arrangements as soon as we can.
At Christ's we have a page for Coronavirus disruptions and applying this year - we recommend reading and then keeping an eye on it.
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).
University-wide statement: In order to minimise Covid-related risks to our applicants, students and staff in the coming undergraduate admissions round, we are making plans to interview applicants this year without requiring them to travel to Cambridge in December. We will release further details about alternative arrangements as soon as we can. This does mean that there may be changes to the details of interviews in this section (which sets out what normally happens).
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, information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section, and after watching those films, you may like to look at the Classics interview advice film. 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 - 6 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.
Read about offer levels in other exam systems and international entrance requirements. If you will have already finished school when you apply, please see the page for post-qualification applications.
|The Greeks, The Romans and Us||
Find out more about applying to study Classics at Cambridge
|Why Classics matters||A helpful overview from the Faculty website|
|Reading suggestions||This online list, provided by the Faculty, gives insight into all areas of classical study.|
(for 3 yr course).
|The Classics Faculty have provided commentaries on Cicero, Tacitus, and Virgil. for those studying Latin at AS or A level.|
|Films with Christ's Director of Studies||Professor Caroline Vout looks at some of the standout pieces in the Museum of Classical Archaeology Cast Gallery: Antinous; Discobolus; Peplos Kore|
|Omnibus Magazine||Classics journal aimed at those in the final years of high school or starting university.|
|Open University courses|
|Classics for All||Resources for Classical Civilisation, Latin, and Ancient Greek|
|Duolingo||This includes an option to learn/practice Latin|
|Essay competitions||Entering an essay competition is a good way to explore a relevant topic and get some extra practice in writing a convincing and well-structured essay.|
|In our Time||Programmes on the ancient world from BBC Radio 4|
|CamGuides||Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working.|
Online events: Our open days and events page advertises online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge.
Visiting on a Christ's College Open Day is a good way to find out more about the College and talk to current students and staff about studying Classics here. Or why not come along to one of Cambridge Classics events and open days?
Want to know more?
For a full picture of what the course involves, please take a look at Undergraduate Classics admissions on the University website and visit the Faculty of Classics information for prospective students too.
If you have any queries about the course itself, please email Classics’ Director of Studies Prof Caroline Vout. Or for more general questions, contact us at email@example.com. We’ll be happy to help.