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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Classics - Catherine Willoughby

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    About Me

    I’m Catherine, a third-year Classicist. I love glitter and tea and partying. Not many people from my school go to Oxbridge, but I set my sights on Cambridge in year 11 because I liked the idea of learning at one of the world’s best universities, and for the opportunities I realised it could lead to in later life. I’m a bit obsessed with language and words - my A-levels were in French, Spanish, Latin and Maths.


    I have adored every bit of Classics. There’s a lot of language teaching in the first two years which really engages you with texts in the original. I find it amazing how something written two thousand years ago can resonate with me personally today. I didn’t do Ancient Greek A-level, so I’m an Intensive Greek student with extra language classes to make sure our translation skills are up to scratch.

    The other great thing about the course structure is that you get a taste of all the different areas of Classics - History, Philosophy, Literature, Art & Archeology, and Linguistics. After a few supervisions in each, you can choose your favourite two (although I couldn’t choose, so my Director of Studies let me keep going with them all for a bit longer.)

    I personally feel that the range of things we can do in Classics is unparalleled - from composing Latin verse, to handling medieval manuscripts in the University Library, to studying colossal statues or broken pottery in the Cast gallery, and debating the meaning of justice or democracy…


    My Week

    For the first two years I’d have 1 class and 2 lectures per day on average, which are always in the morning, and about 3 supervisions per week, so I’d normally do one essay, two translations and maybe one piece of prose composition (which is optional by the way!) and sometimes some text prep for the classes. In the third year, my time is a bit more flexible as I’m doing a dissertation, organising my own supervisions and attending seminars too.​

    Murray Edwards

    I didn’t apply to Murray Edwards, but I am so glad they chose me. I honestly don’t think I could have found a stronger group of friends anywhere else. It’s full of great people. We’ll be each other’s bridesmaids and be mates forever. The College care about you, with strong relationships between the students and our Tutors and Directors of Studies who are really invested in helping us.

    We’re really lucky to have our own tennis and netball courts, and some of the best food (high-quality, generous portions and good prices relative to other colleges). And you can cycle to pretty much anywhere in Cambridge within 10 or 15 minutes.​

    Beyond Study

    I like debating so I’m a member of the Union, where I’ve been to watch talks, done a few debating workshops and even Emergency Debates myself. I play college netball and hockey which is more chilled than uni sport as it’s very low commitment (usually just about an hour of your weekend to play a match). I’ve been involved in a few bigger projects like the Varsity Ski Trip and Varsity Surf Trip, and been to some really inspiring talks hosted by the Cambridge Women in Business Society and the Advertising & Marketing Society. There’s a great drama scene here so I enjoy going to the theatre, especially for Footlights comedy. Cambridge is so buzzing that there is something happening all the time, to suit everyone.​

    My Advice to Classics Applicants

    Definitely do some reading to find out an area that you’re particularly interested in, so you can talk about it at your interview. It doesn’t matter what area it is as long as it falls under the umbrella of Classics, they’ll be really pleased if you show your interest in something outside what you’ve learnt at school. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know everything yet - that’s why you’re coming here to learn - just show that you’re eager to learn more.

    Be excited! And the rest will fall into place.