The Cambridge course initially encompasses the languages and literatures, the art and archaeology, the history and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome. But Classics at Cambridge isn’t just studied as a period in the past. We also look at how ancient languages, literatures, art and thought have affected later ages right up to the present day. Our Classics community at King’s has an exceptional reputation for teaching and research, and we try our best to help you realise your potential as a student of the ancient world and its myriad receptions and forge your own way through the field.
The Classics Tripos is a three-year course if you have had a chance to learn Latin and/or Greek up to A-level (or equivalent) at school, or a four-year course if you haven’t. In the four-year course you take up both languages from scratch, with the first year mostly devoted to learning Latin:
Preliminary year (four-year course only) (= settling in): devoted mainly to Latin – but also to exploring the study of the ancient world in all its variety.
First year: Part IA (= laying foundations): you’ll study Latin, start or continue with ancient Greek (many of our students have not studied ancient Greek before; a few come with Greek A-Level: we cater for all comers) and explore the various aspects that make up Classics: the literatures, histories, philosophy, art and architecture, and linguistics of ancient Greece and Rome.
Second year: Part IB (= digging deeper): you’ll continue with Greek and Latin, and study more Greek and Roman literature. In addition, you choose two of the four other subjects (philosophy, history, art and archaeology, linguistics) for more in-depth study.
Third year: Part II (= be yourself): there is a wide range of options on offer, also from neighbouring disciplines, including the chance to write a dissertation on a topic of your own design): choose the four that most appeal to you!
Number of students per year: six to eight
Typical offer: A*AA or equivalent
King’s is an inspirational place to study Classics, and has one of the largest Classics communities in the University. You benefit from:
- long and lively meetings of the King’s Classical Society
- 24/7 access to the College Library
- close proximity to the Faculty (5 minutes walk [there’s a challenge!])
- joining a global community (you will find people who have studied at King’s teaching in Classics departments all over the world)
- AND, most importantly, a distinctive style of teaching and close personal and intellectual relationships with your supervisors:
Fellows at King's in Classics:
The numbers admitted in Classics at King's vary from year to year, but we rarely admit fewer than six or more than eight students each year. Although there are plenty of obstacles to learning Classics, we have all sorts of ways of overcoming them, and Classicists here come from every kind of educational background. You simply have to be an enthusiast for all things classical!
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 fulfil your potential as classicists.
Subjects that offer a grounding in the skills required for the course, such as languages, classical civilisation, english (language or literature), history, history of art and literary criticism, are particularly useful, but we are happy to admit students with a science-based backgrounds as well.
Although there are no pre-interview assessments for Classics, students who are invited for interview are also asked to take an at-interview written assessment, 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.
After you apply we will ask you to send one marked essay so that we can see how you think on paper.
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.
There is no required reading for Classics applicants but the Director of Studies has provided advice and reading suggestions which you will find useful. We also recommend you explore the Greeks, the Romans & Us (the Cambridge Classics website for prospective students - linked below). If you visit Cambridge, you might like to go to the Museum of Classical Archaeology (there's a highlights pack which may help).
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. 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.