Why study Classics at Christ's?

Reading Homer in Christ's Fellows' Garden
Dr Matthew Ward and students reading Homer in the Fellows' Garden. A hot day in June 2022

Christ’s is a very special place to study Classics. We take 4-6 undergraduates in each study year; currently we also have 14 postgraduate students pursuing Masters and PhD degrees.

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 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), Greg Woolf (Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, London) and Henry Spelman (Merton College, Oxford) 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 clas

sical 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.
 

Teaching

Visiting Christ's
  Book College tours and/or online events

Christ’s is lucky to have a number of experienced Classicists under its roof:

A guide to supervisions
Click here to watch the supervisions film (3.5 mins)

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 iDr Carrie Vout on site in Sicilyn 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?

Student Q&A film
  Watch the Christ's student Q&A film

Read about the experiences of some of the Christ's College Classics students:

If you’d like to hear from other Christ's students, please watch the Christ's student Q&A film, and visit our Student Profiles page.


How to apply

Details and a timeline for the application process can be found on the how to apply page. You may also find the additional Faculty of Classics application information useful.

News
  • On interviews: students who apply in October 2022 and are selected for interview will be interviewed online - you will not need to travel to Cambridge. For more detail see the interviews section below.
  • The assessment for Classics is College registered. That means that you do not need to register for it. If you are invited for online interviews, we will organise it for you automatically. Please see the assessment section for more detail.


Subject requirements

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.Archaeological dig

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.

Written work

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

If we invite you for interviews, these usually take place in early December. Those invited for Cambridge interviews are normally interviewed for 35-50 minutes in total. At Christ’s, we usually split the time into two interviews with academics in Classics.  You will also have a third interview at another college. The Christ's interviews will cover a range of topics based on the UCAS application and additional questionnaire(s), (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.

Assessment (College registered)

If you apply for the 3-year Classics course and are invited for interview, you will also be asked to sit a written Assessment. We automatically organise this for you if you are selected for interview, so there is nothing that you need to do to register. The same assessment is used regardless of which College you've applied to and will take place at the end of November. 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 in the university course information (entry requirements tab) from March each year. You will be able to complete the assessment remotely and upload your work - you will not need to travel for it. Details of how the assessment will work will be given to students selected for interview by email.

Applicants for the four year Classics course also have an assessment if invited for interview. Instead of being a written assessment, this will be scheduled like an additional online interview but will be with a language teaching officer from the Classics Faculty. It will take place at about the same time as your other interviews but may not be on the same day. Further information can be found in the university course information (entry requirements tab) from March each year.

Offers

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.


Helpful resources

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.
Latin resources
(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: AntinousDiscobolus; Peplos Kore
The Classical Anthology A collection of passages from Greek and Latin literature (with translations) - click 'show menu' to start.
Antigone journal website Open forum for Classics in the twenty-first century.
HE+ Classics Resources for students who want to explore Classics beyond a school curriculum
Omnibus Magazine Classics journal aimed at those in the final years of high school or starting university.
Theoi Greek mythology About the gods (theoi), spirits (daimones), fabulous creatures (theres) and heroes of ancient Greek mythology and religion.
Open University courses

Introducing Classical Latin
Getting started on Classical Latin
Introducing Ancient Greek
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

Classics for All Resources for Classical Civilisation, Latin, and Ancient Greek
Internet Classics Archive Greco-Roman works, all in English translation.
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.

 

Events (online / in person)

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?

If you might be interested in combining a Classical Language with a Modern European Language such as French, German, Spanish etc, see the Cambridge Languages Open Day.

 

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 admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk. We’ll be happy to help.

 

Undergraduate Admissions / SubjectsHow to apply / Why Christ's?