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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Classics

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Classics at Cambridge 

The Classics course at Cambridge is an exciting and varied course. Over the course of the first two years (or three for students without prior experience of Latin), all students gain a firm grounding in Latin and Greek, reading a range of ancient literature in the original language. They also pursue elements of ancient history, archaeology, art, philosophy, philology and linguistics to build the broadest possible understanding of the ancient world and our relationship to it. Topics covered in the first year include:  the Augustan Revolution, Epic poetry, Greek and Latin linguistics and the dialogues of Plato. By the final year you will have the choice to specialise in depth in areas which reflect your chosen interests. This might include for example: The Poetics of Classical Art, Roman Popular Culture or a multidisciplinary paper such as Being Human.

Full details about the structure and content of the course can be found at the Departmental website.

Classics in Murray Edwards College

We welcome around 4 undergraduate students in Classics each year.  Within the College as a whole this means we have around 12 undergraduate students, 3 postgraduate students, and 2 Fellows and Bye-Fellows interested in Classics. 

We provide supervisions in literature, history and language in house and have on hand an excellent team of supervisors from across Cambridge to ensure specialist teaching in all of the Classical disciplines as well as exposure to a stimulating and diverse range of intellectual perspectives. Classics at Murray Edwards College is a lively subject. The Murray Edwards Classics society meet frequently to socialise and to hold evening talks and events to share what our students and fellows are currently working on. This vibrant social calendar guarantees close ties across years and between students and their supervisors.

Classics has always had a strong tradition at Murray Edwards College and the college library is well-supplied, including a collection bequeathed by Elizabeth Rawson, a former fellow of the college and renowned historian of Roman culture and society.

Our students achieve good results and speak highly of their experience:

"There’s nothing quite like sitting down with a world-renowned Classicist and spending an hour debating some topic that you find really fascinating." (Felicity, First Year Classics Student)

"I really love Classics because we get to study such a range of subjects simultaneously - from existential philosophy to the origin of the alphabet, there's always another exciting topic to discover." (Catherine, Second Year Classics Student)

Our academic Fellows are also active in research. Their interests include the following:

  • Dr Hannah Willey – Greek cultural history with a particular focus on religion, law and social status.
  • Dr Fran Middleton – Greek literature with a particular focus on post-Hellenistic Greek poetry.

You may also be aware of one or two of our more distinguished alumnae who studied this (or a closely related subject) here, for example: prominent public intellectual Angela Hobbs (a student at this College from 1980-9), who is Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield and a regular on BBC Radio 4.

Applying to study here

We look for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, motivated to learn more and have achieved highly in their examinations to date. At interview we will be looking for evidence of some of the following qualities: 

  • Enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity;
  • The ability to respond to new material in a thoughtful and independent way;
  • Linguistic aptitude (for applicants for the Four Year course this does not require prior knowledge of any foreign language).

In preparing to apply or for your interview it is a good idea to think about where your particular interests lie and what you have already done to pursue these further (e.g. by reading beyond the school syllabus or visiting museums and archaeological sites).

We usually make typical/standard offers in A levels or equivalent ie usually A*AA at A level.  Full details of entry requirements and selection processes for Classics across all colleges can be found on the central University webpages.

Moving into your career 

Our students follow a wide range of careers when they leave: some will want to stay closely involved with their subject interest while others will be keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities. Those who have studied Classics have recently recently pursued successful careers in such diverse fields as law, publishing, journalism and teaching.  

We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.

Find out more

Many students find it helpful to contact us by email or to visit us to find out more. You are welcome to do so.

Fellows in this subject