The outdoor dining room at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli
Welcome to the Classics subject page at King's! Here you will find an overview of Classics at King’s, the Cambridge Classics course, the people who teach and research in Classics at King's, plus information about applying as an undergraduate.
- King's Classics stands out
- The Cambridge Classical Tripos
- Student perspectives
- Fellows in Classics
- Applying to study Classics
- Reading, resources and events
- Further information
King's Classics stands out
Alex (2nd year) and the Colosseum
King's is an inspirational place to study Classics. King's Classics Fellows are some of the best-known Classicists in the country - and several of them were themselves King's undergraduates. King's almost always has more Classics undergraduate and graduate students than any other college. The King's Classical Society is known for its long and lively meetings. And you will find people who have studied at King's, teaching in Classics departments all over the world.
Colleges do make a difference to your experience, and King's is distinctive in the way that the subject is taught and in the social and intellectual environment you will live in.
Graduation day: Asad with Simon Goldhill and Rosanna Omitowoju
King's students have 24/7 access to the College Library, which is well-stocked for Classics and also provides many pleasant places to study (see the virtual tour). The Classics Faculty is a convenient five minute walk away, on the Sidgwick site.
Many King's Classicists go on to graduate research in Classics. There are also opportunities for specialists in a range of archives, libraries and museums in the culture and heritage sector. Others go on to journalism, drama, film, law, teaching – the full range of graduate careers.
The Cambridge Classical Tripos (Tripos = course)
Porta Maggiore in the Aurelian walls
The Tripos is usually a three-year course, but if you have not had a chance to learn Latin and Greek at school you can take up both languages from scratch by doing a four-year course in which the first year is devoted to learning Latin. You then join those reading the three-year course.
The three-year course starts with Part 1A in which, as well as improving your language skills in Latin and Greek (many of our students start Greek from scratch in this year), you have a chance to sample the full range of classics – literary studies, philosophy, history, art and archaeology, even linguistics.
In Part 1B, the next year, you continue with further language learning and with studies of both Greek and Latin literature. In addition, you study two out of philosophy, history, art and archaeology, and linguistics.
Students having a revision supervision outside with Simon Goldhill
In the final year (Part 2) you study either a) four papers selected from a range that includes papers in all the branches of classics and also some papers that ask you to combine literary, philosophical, historical and archaeological/art-historical skills, or b) three such papers plus a dissertation based on your own independent research into a subject of your choice.
Throughout the course you attend lectures (and some classes) put on by the Faculty (= Department) and supervisions organised by the College. In those supervisions, which cover both language learning and essay writing, you go over work that you have submitted in advance with a specialist supervisor. At King’s almost all aspects of the subject are supervised by Fellows of the College.
Jack, Amber and Qasim have written about their experiences of studying Classics, including the transition from school, the different stages of the course, essays and translations, supervisions and academic expectations, balancing the work with a social life, and the application process. These accounts are well worth reading to get a sense of what studying Classics at King's is really like.
Fellows in Classics
Ingo Gildenhard teaches Latin literature and language, and has further interests in Roman political culture, literary and social theory, and the classical tradition.
Simon Goldhill teaches Greek literature and language; his research covers not only the whole range of Greek literature from Homer to Synesius but also the ways in which Greek literature has shaped the modern world. You get some idea of his range - and energy - from the way in which he followed Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity: art, opera, fiction and the proclamation of modernity, published in 2011, with Sophocles and the language of tragedy in 2012.
John Henderson teaches Latin literature and language; primarily a Latinist, he is also interested in all sorts of classical topics. He is best known as a wicked reader of texts and an inveterately enthusiastic supervisor.
Rosanna Omitowoju (Director of Studies for Part II) teaches Greek language and literature; she has a book on Rape and the politics of consent in classical Athens and contributed to a recent volume of translations of Greek novels.
Robin Osborne (Director of Studies) teaches ancient history and art and archaeology; his research is known for its use of the evidence of art and material culture to address historical questions. His most recent book is The history written on the classical Greek body.
We are proud of the close personal and intellectual relationship that you build up with your supervisors over your three or four years here.
Applying to study Classics
Qasim and Archie chatting with Robin Osborne and Simon Goldhill
You simply have to be an enthusiast for all things classical. There are plenty of obstacles to learning Classics, but we have all sorts of ways of overcoming them. Classicists here come from every kind of educational background. The numbers admitted in Classics vary from year to year, but we rarely admit fewer than six or more than eight students each year.
The application process for all subjects is explained on our how to apply page, which we advise applicants to read thoroughly in combination with the details below about subject choices and interests for Classics, written work, the interviews and the Classics at-interview written assessments.
There are no special hurdles for admission to Classics, just the normal college entrance requirements. We have students who arrive with A levels or equivalent in Greek and Latin; many have Latin and no Greek; some have neither Latin nor Greek. If you are not sure what precise course you should be applying for we are more than happy to advise and to help you fulfill your potential as classicists.
For other subject choices, please see the general advice on subject choices. Subjects that offer a grounding in the skills required for the course, such as languages, essay-based subjects, history, history of art and literary criticism, are particularly useful, but we are happy to admit students with a science-based backgrounds as well.
After you apply we will ask you to send a marked essay so that we can see how you think on paper. For those looking early, written work guidelines are published in September as part of the Applicant Information. All applicants will receive an email shortly after the 15 October deadline sending you to this information. The deadline for written work will be in early November (see how to apply) and essays must not be sent before 15 October.
If you are invited for interview at King's, these will take place in early December. We will explore with you texts and topics with which you are already familiar to find out what you can do with that knowledge, much as we explore what undergraduates can do with the knowledge they have just acquired in the weekly supervisions. Classics applicants invited for interviews at King's also get interviewed at a second College so as to make it easier for us to ensure that the best candidates to the University as a whole get offered places.
Students who are invited for interview in Classics are also asked to take one of the at-interview written assessments for Classics, which will last one hour. You do not need to register for the written assessment as it will be organised automatically by the College if you are invited for interview.
Your performance in the relevant Classics written assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.
Reading, resources and events
- Please read the general information about developing your interests.
- Do explore the Greeks, the Romans & Us (Cambridge Classics website for prospective students).
- There is no required reading for Classics applicants but the Director of Studies has provided advice and reading suggestions which you will find useful.
- The subject resources page has tags for posts on Literature and Languages, Humanities and Social Sciences.
- If you can come to an Open Day, you will be very welcome. But if it suits you to arrange a more personal visit we are very happy to meet you so that you can find out what it's really like to study here. Do just contact the Admissions Office (firstname.lastname@example.org). Events which may be of interest in the year before you apply (year 12 in the UK) include Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences, the Oxbridge Classics Open Day, Classics Taster Day, Sixth Form Study Days, and King's Open Days. Students from backgrounds where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.
- If you visit Cambridge, you might like to go to the Museum of Classical Archaeology (there's a highlights pack which may help).
- Course outline and film
- You will find more information on the Classics Faculty website, including an introductory film and the Classics Faculty Handbook.
- Applying with limited support or advice
- Extenuating Circumstances form
- International Students
- Students interested in Classics may also like to consider Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, English, History, Human, Social and Political Sciences, Linguistics, or Modern and Medieval Languages.