Preliminary Examination: Classics and English

Ancient Greek relief. (Image credit: Shutterstock).

Ancient Greek relief. (Image credit: Shutterstock).

Course II Qualifying Examination

If you have not previously studied either Ancient Greek or Latin at school or college, you spend a preliminary year learning one of the languages, combined with some study of classical literature; your course lasts four years.

The texts which you study comprise selections from the following:

  • for students taking Greek: Homer IIiad; Lysias 1 and 3; Euripides Bacchae.
  • for students taking Latin: Virgil, Aeneid; Seneca, Epistles; Catullus.

The qualifying examination consists of two written exams: Greek or Latin Language, and Greek or Latin Texts.

After the qualifying examination, you go on to study Classics and English Prelims as set out below.

Classics and English Prelims

During your first year (or your second year, if you are taking Course II), you continue to study the language and literature of your chosen Classical language. The texts that you study include selections from the following:

  • either Homer, Iliad or Virgil Aeneid
  • Greek texts: Euripides, Bacchae; Aristophanes, Frogs; Herodotus.
  • Latin texts: Cicero, Pro Caelio; Catullus; Propertius; Petronius, Cena Trimalchionis; Juvenal.

The period of English Literature studied in the first year of the course concentrates on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the influence of the Classics was especially strong.

For the Preliminary Examination, you submit a portfolio of work and sit four written exams:

  1. Introduction to English Language and Literature – a portfolio of work, comprising a commentary and a discursive essay, on topics chosen from lists published by the English Faculty.
  2. Literature in English 1550-1660 (excluding the plays of Shakespeare)
  3. Unseen translation from Greek and/or Latin
  4. Greek and/or Latin Literature: essay questions
  5. Greek and/or Latin Literature: translation and comment

For comprehensive details of the papers available, and the rules on which combinations of papers students may take, please refer to the Examination Regulations.

Please note that changes may be made to course syllabuses from year to year, and that not all papers may be available in any given year.