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Classics and Oriental Studies

Indian Paintaing 17th Century

What is Classics and Oriental Studies?

This course allows you to combine the study of an Oriental language and culture with Latin and / or Greek and the study of the ancient world. There are six main languages or subjects you can take as part of the degree: Arabic, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (with Akkadian or Egyptian), Hebrew, Persian, Sanskrit and Turkish. It is also possible to come in as an Oriental Studies candidate and take up some Classics.

This joint honours degree provides an exciting opportunity for students who want to focus in interdisciplinary studies. It might suit you if:

  • You want to immerse yourself in a broader range of languages, both Indo-European and non-Indo-European.
  • You have an interest in Judaeo-Christianity and would appreciate the chance to learn more about the relationship between the languages and cultures of the great monotheistic religions in their various (e.g. Greek and Roman) contexts.
  • You are fascinated by the cultural development and crossover in places such as Persia, Egypt and India. UCAS Course Codes: Classics with Oriental Studies: Q8T9 Oriental Studies with Classics: T9Q8 Course length: Usually 4 years; 3 for those taking Oriental Studies as their main subject but not having a year abroad. Course requirements: none. From

Course Structure

There are two versions of the course: Classics with Oriental Studies (4 years) and Oriental Studies with Classics (3 years). Depending on your choice of Oriental language, there may be an opportunity for you to spend a year abroad, extending the length of the degree course by one year.

If you take Classics with Oriental Studies, you spend the first five terms working towards the first public examination, known as Honour Moderations in Classics or “Mods”. There are different versions of the Mods course, depending on whether or not you have previously studied Ancient Greek and/or Latin to A-level or equivalent. If you have not previously studied both languages to A-level or equivalent, you will be provided with intensive language tuition in one of the languages in preparation for Mods. Please see the Mods Course Structure page for details of the syllabus for the Mods examination.

In your sixth term, you begin working towards the final examination. You make contact with the Oriental Studies Faculty and come to meet your instructors in Trinity Term, and begin formal teaching in your Oriental language in Michaelmas (i.e. your seventh) term. In finals, you are examined in eight subjects, five in Classics and/or Philosophy and three in your Oriental language.

If you take Oriental Studies with Classics, you spend the first three terms working towards the Preliminary Examination in your chosen Oriental language. The remaining six terms of the course are spent working towards the final examination, which comprises eight to ten subjects: three in Classics and/or Philosophy and five to seven in your Oriental language.

You can choose from a wide range of subjects in Classics and in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at finals. You may also offer a thesis, either as one of your main subjects or as an optional extra subject. For more information about the individual options available, please see the Classics Finals Course Structure page. Please note that there are some restrictions on the options and combinations you can take; for example, certain modern philosophy options are not available to Classics and Oriental Studies students. For details of the current exam syllabus for Classics and Oriental Studies finals, please see the course handbook and the Examination Regulations. Please note that course syllabuses may be revised from time to time, and that not all options may be taught every year.

For information about the syllabus for your Oriental language, please see the Oriental Studies Faculty’s website.

UCAS Course Codes:
Classics with Oriental Studies: Q8T9
Oriental Studies with Classics: T9Q8
Course length: Usually 4 years; 3 for those taking Oriental Studies as their main subject but not having a year abroad.
Course requirements: none.


A fourth year Classics and Old Iranian student :

“The Classics and Oriental Studies course offers a unique opportunity to combine your Latin and Ancient Greek studies with Eastern interests. I like the way that for the first two years you follow the Classics course alone, which allows you to find your feet with the more familiar Greek and Roman material when you first arrive at Oxford and ensures you are fully integrated into the community of Classics undergraduates – you go to all the same lectures and classes together for these first two years and many of my closest friends were made there. I have thoroughly enjoyedmy Old Iranian papers as they provide a fantastic insight into ancient Eastern history, which complement my Classics studies. Whether you want to expand your knowledge of ancient languages and history or pick up a new modern language, the course is very flexible and allows you to focus on your personal areas of interest.”