Undergraduate FAQs

Can I apply to both Oxford and Cambridge?

No, not unless you are applying for an organ scholarship. For more information on organ scholarships please visit the following sites: University of Oxford,  University of Cambridge

Last update on 16-05-2013 by Neil Leeder.

Can I apply to more than one course?

You can only apply for one course in any one year, however it might be possible to be considered for an alternative course once you have been interviewed during the admissions process.

Last update on 16-05-2013 by Neil Leeder.

I am doing Latin to A2 and Greek to AS: could I apply for course IA, accepting that I might be disadvantaged by taking the Greek test as well as the Latin at admissions?

It would be best to apply for course IB and do only the Latin test at admissions; if you were accepted, your tutor could advise whether you should follow course IA.

Last update on 08-03-2013 by Neil Leeder.

I've done only one language at school: what are my options?

You can apply for the full range of classical courses (Literae Humaniores, Classics and English, Classics and Modern Languages, Classics and Oriental Studies, Classical Archaeology and Ancient and Modern History). See the table of language requirements, which will show you which classical courses are most suitable for you. A knowledge of the classical languages will enhance anyone's understanding of the ancient world, and if you have the chance to learn both Latin and Greek at school you are well-advised to take it.  In many of the Oxford classics courses it is possible to pick up the other classical language during your degree.

Last update on 16-11-2015 by Neil Leeder.

I haven't done any work in the original languages: what are my options?

No problem at all. We recognise that not every school can offer classical language teaching and we are proud that our whole range of classical degrees at Oxford, both linguistic and non-linguistic, is available to the best applicants, regardless of whether or not they have had the opportunity to study Greek and Latin before university. We provide intensive tuition in Latin and/or Greek to suit all levels of prior experience. See the table of language requirements, which shows that you can apply for any of our classical degrees (Literae Humaniores II is a version of our main Classics degree, which has been specially designed for applicants in your position; on this course you may, but do not have to, learn both classical languages during your degree).

Last update on 23-08-2012 by Neil Leeder.

I would like to apply for Classics course II, but I'm worried that I might be expected to have taken Latin or Greek at least to GCSE.

There really is absolutely no need or expectation for you to have taken any Latin or Greek at all in order to apply for this course. The GCSE expectation is firmly a thing of the past! We do urge successful candidates to attend a summer school before starting their course, so as to make some progress in advance. From then on, we provide all the tuition you need. We are perfectly happy for you to apply without a single word of Latin or Greek, but if you want to see how well you get on with learning a classical language before you apply, why not attend a summer school in Latin or Greek first? See the JACT website for details of future courses.

Last update on 03-08-2012 by .

I would like to study Classics and English, but I haven't studied either Latin or Greek before. Is this a problem?

No, for some time there has been available a version of the Classics and English degree specifically for people who are taking neither Latin or Greek to A2 (or equivalent). This version of the course lasts for four rather than three years, since it has a preparatory year of language learning built in, which caters for all levels of prior experience. See Classics and English course outline.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

I would like to study Ancient and Modern History, but I am not taking Latin or Greek at school. Will I be at a disadvantage?

No. The university does not require any knowledge of either classical language from Ancient and Modern Historians (although there are opportunities for those who have studied Latin or Greek to use it in their degree). However, it is worth checking with individual college tutors or the Schools Liaison Officer if you are in any way worried about this aspect of your application.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

I would like to study Ancient and Modern History. I am taking Ancient History but not Modern History at A2 level. Am I still eligible to apply?

There are no hard and fast rules about which subjects must have been taken, but it would be well worth consulting individual college tutors about this. Very many students apply for AMH without taking Ancient History at school (although quite a few are taking Classical Civilisation, or some other classical subject), but it would be highly unusual for an applicant to lack Modern History as a school subject.

Last update on 03-08-2012 by .

I would like to study Classics and Modern Languages, but I don't know whether to choose the 3+1-year or 4+1-year version of the course. What is the difference?

In the 3+1-year version, you study both one ancient and one modern language throughout the three years in Oxford (1 year abroad). In the 4+1-year version, you spend the first five terms studying for Classics Mods, and only after that do you add in your Modern Language. While the 3+1 version focuses on literature and language on the Classics side, the 4+1 version necessarily also involves at least one option in philosophy (ancient or modern) and at least one in ancient history or archaeology or comparative philology. The modern language receives approximately the same amount of attention in each version, though the extra year in the 4+1 version enables more attention to be given to the ancient world in the round.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

I am very interested in Ancient Egypt. Are there opportunities to study this as part of the Classics/CAAH/AMH degree at Oxford?

Yes, there is a paper called 'Egyptian Art and Architecture' in CAAH. If you have a strong interest in Egyptology, you might also look at the degree in Classics and Oriental Studies. See the course outline for Classics and Oriental Studies.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

What is the distinction between colleges and university? Do I have to make separate applications?

No - you apply to the colleges through UCAS and the university form. Please see the section on How to apply for classical courses. You do not even need to apply to a college; you may make an ‘open application’ (see the answer to the next question).

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

Does my choice of a college affect my chances of getting an Oxford place?

No. The Classics Faculty has robust measures in place to ensure as far as possible that the best candidates secure places regardless of which college they apply to. The data from candidates’ UCAS forms, their written work assessment, and their test results are all scrutinized by tutors from all colleges and many candidates are interviewed by one or more college other than their college of first choice. Practically all students who have been admitted to a college other than their first-choice college are very happy at that college, and once admitted most could not conceive of wanting to be at any other. Remember again that there is the option of making an open application.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

Which colleges offer classical degrees? Do I have to choose a college, and if so how do I decide?

Almost all of the undergraduate colleges offer the classical courses. Full details are available from the Admissions website. This website has direct links to the classics sections of the college websites www.classics.ox.ac.uk/colleges.html

There is no need at all to choose a college, if you do not want to. You can submit an 'open application', and a computer will allocate you to a college. From that point on, you will be treated in exactly the same way as applicants who named a college on their form. For advice on choosing colleges and for college summaries see Colleges and Private Halls and How do I choose an Oxford College.

Last update on 16-05-2013 by .

What is a PPH ?

The Permanent Private Halls (PPHs, for short) are both like and unlike other colleges. Find out more about PPHs. The two PPHs that admit students for classical degrees are Regent’s Park College and St Benet’s Hall. 

Last update on 27-06-2014 by Neil Leeder.

I am a mature student. How welcome would my application for a classical degree at Oxford be?

Although the vast majority of our students either come immediately after leaving school or have taken a single gap year, we warmly welcome applications from potential classicists of absolutely every age, background and experience. We are looking purely for academic merit and commitment, and we take careful account of individual circumstance and opportunity. If there are factors which you think it would be helpful for us to know about, it is a good idea to mention them in your application. For more information see the university's admissions guide for mature students.

Last update on 27-06-2014 by Neil Leeder.

The prospectus asks me to send written work in: what should I send, and how will it be used?

You should send two pieces of normal school/college work (usually essays, or an essay and a commentary) done as part of your sixth-form course. Normally these will be in areas relevant to Classics. They should preferably not be short, timed essays or exercises answering questions on a short passage of text. Ideally they should be something that shows your skills of expression and argument to good effect. You should not however produce something specially for the occasion. If you are unsure what would be the most appropriate pieces of written work to send in, then feel free to seek advice from the Classics tutor at your college of first choice or from the Schools Liaison Officer. You should keep a copy before submitting the work, and read it through before you come to interview, just to refresh your memory, since it is likely that you will be asked about this work at some point during the interview process. See How to apply for classical courses.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

I am no longer at school/college. Do I still have to submit written work and, if so, of what kind? My schoolwork dates from more than a year ago.

Yes, we do ask all candidates for classical degrees to submit some written work to us, partly so that we have the same type of information for all candidates and partly to give us some idea of your interests and how you can express them. If you have some work from near the end of your sixth-form career, you could consider sending that. Or you might choose to write something on a classical subject, so that we can see your work as it is now. It would be a good idea to consult with the tutors in the college which asks you for work (i.e. your first-choice college) if you are in any doubt.

Last update on 03-08-2012 by .

Should I be doing special preparation for the interview?

There is no need for any special preparation. Tutors are not looking for particular items of knowledge or testing whether or not you have read certain authors. They want to see your commitment and enthusiasm for the subject. They may try to find out what you think about subjects which you do know something about (your A level texts for example), and to see how you can think on the spot about subjects which are unfamiliar.

Last update on 03-08-2012 by .

Are there tests at interview?

Yes, for all classical courses except Ancient and Modern History and Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. See How to apply for classical courses.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

What criteria do you use for selection?

Tutors use a large number of factors when making offers to candidates. These include past academic record (GCSE, AS grades), predicted or achieved school-leaving grades, the reference provided by your school or college, your own personal statement about your interest in the subject, written work submitted, written tests at interview, the interviews themselves, and a range of other considerations which may be brought to our attention. No one of these factors is in itself enough to win or lose a place at Oxford. We take extreme care to look at each applicant on his or her own merits, and we are above all looking for academic potential and commitment to the subject.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

What is the admissions process for second undergraduate degree candidates?

Just the same as for first degree candidates. For further information see the University's guidance on applying for second degrees, or consult a college tutor for advice.

Last update on 23-08-2012 by .

How soon will I hear the result?

We try to come to decisions quickly once the interviews are over and will let candidates know the outcome by mid January.

Last update on 28-10-2013 by .

What is the Classics Faculty's policy on gap years?

About 10% of successful candidates are given places for deferred entry, and all colleges are willing to make such offers. Colleges are generally prepared to offer a deferred place to any candidate worthy of an undeferred place, but they usually do not offer more than one or two deferred places per subject, in order not to disadvantage the following year's candidates. Some applicants for deferred entry may either be offered an undeferred place or encouraged to apply again the following year. If a second college is willing to offer a deferred place to a candidate who wants one when the first-choice college offers only an undeferred place, the offer of a deferred place has precedence. But do bear in mind that it is crucial, if you are applying for a language-based course, to have a plan for how you will maintain your linguistic skills between leaving school and starting at university.

Last update on 03-08-2012 by .

If I get in, what will I have to do to prepare for the first year, so as to get the most out of the course?

College tutors will usually write to successful candidates with advice about preparation for the course. In addition to reading that might be suggested, we often recommend that prospective students attend one of the excellent Latin or Greek summer schools before coming to Oxford.

Students with offers for Classics II will normally attend a summer school in preparation for their intensive language learning at Oxford. Students with existing language qualifications will benefit from attending the summer schools in terms of their own development, but this is not necessary. Please see our own page on Summer Schools for more information.

Last update on 16-05-2013 by .

What do current undergraduates think of the course?

The best way to find out is to ask them at the subject Open Day (held jointly with Cambridge each May) or at college Open Days. You can read what current undergraduates have to say at our profiles page - see http://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/aboutclassics.html and graduate profiles

Last update on 16-05-2013 by .

What kind of jobs are there for classicists?

Graduates with classical degrees have an outstanding employment record, and their opportunities are as broad as those of any other arts students. They go on to further study, teaching, law, accountancy, into the City, central or local government, computing, industry. The University Careers Service has an excellent record in helping undergraduates to decide what they really want to do on graduating and to find a way of doing it. See http://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/careers.html

Last update on 16-05-2013 by .