Course Guide


Classics covers a broad scope of subjects, including languages, literature, history, art and archaeology, philosophy and linguistics. The main focus for the first 2-3 years of your degree (depending on whether you do a preliminary year or not) is on learning Latin and Ancient Greek. This opens you up to a whole new way of considering the ancient world, engaging you with the actual text that survives. As well as the language, you’ll explore the ancient world from all sorts of angles through lectures and essays, and consider what it actually means to study Classics, the subject’s own history, controversies and its impact on the modern world.

Introducing your Academic Reps

Ruby Ranson

I'm Ruby, I'm an ex-Prelim Classics student, currently representing Classics undergraduates as one of their Academic Reps. This means I sit in on various meetings with faculty members, and put forward student thoughts, queries or opinions about anything from the faculty facilities to teaching methods.

Emma Arnold

Hi! I'm Emma, the Academic Rep for the three-year Classics course. In my role I work to make sure the Faculty takes into account student input on course content and teaching, as well as aspects such as Access and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Key Facts

Average offer: A*AA

3 years

Available at all colleges

Key subjects for admission: 3 year - Latin, 4 year - none

Written assessment if interviewed (3 year - Latin/Greek skills, 4 year - general aptitude)

No inclusive prayer space :(


Why did you want to study Classics?


I wanted to study a little bit of everything - history, language, literature, philosophy. Classics ended up being the perfect fit for me. It's a space where you can explore different subjects and see easily how they connect to create a single, more rich portrait of Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations.


I wanted to study an interdisciplinary subject, and I had already been interested in ancient languages for a while before I considered doing Classics. In Classics you can explore a blend of literature, history, archaeology, and philosophy, and it encourages you to consider the connections between the past and the present day.

How is the Classics course structured?


The preliminary year is very language heavy. You'll have a summer school to give you a head start on learning Latin, and continue this throughout the year, with lectures on the texts you'll be studying in Latin. After the first term, you'll also begin learning Ancient Greek. You'll also be lectured on the various caucuses (subjects) within Classics, introduced to things like ancient philosophy and archaeology.
Part 1A and 1B introduce more varied content and allow you to delve deeper into the subjects you like through essays and lectures. You will study texts in the original languages throughout. Part II gives you an even broader range of subjects to choose from, allowing you specialise in any of the caucuses of your choosing. You also have the opportunity to take papers from other faculties.


The Classics three-year course is divided into Parts IA, IB, and II. Each of these takes a year (or three Cambridge terms) to complete. In Part IA, the focus is primarily on developing your language skill to a high level of proficiency, while giving you a foundation in history, art and archaeology, philosophy, and linguistics. In your second term of IA, you get to choose two particular subjects (eg. Art and Philosophy, or History and Linguistics) which you would like to focus on. In Part IA, everyone takes the same literature courses.
In Part IB, you get to choose which literature options you take. There is less language work, and more focus on the non-language subjects you chose in IA.
In Part II, you choose 4 modules, which can be a blend of whatever you choose. It is possible to substitute a thesis for one module. Part II has no language teaching.

What is the faculty building like?


The faculty building is relatively small and easy to get around. The lecture rooms are fairly well-spaced, and there are several classrooms for classes and supervisions. We have a common room for undergraduates to work in, as well as the lovely library. The highlight is probably the Museum of Classical Archaeology, which houses casts of ancient sculptures. It's a great space to go after lectures and interact with what you've been taught about.

What is the workload like?


Contact hours depend on your year and college. In Prelims and 1A you have lectures from every caucus, as well as set text lectures every week, which totals to about 8 lectures. You'll also have language classes on top of this (about 3-4 of those, but this is dependent on how much language knowledge you arrive with) and then supervisions, which include weekly essays. As colleges set supervisions, these can vary from 3-6 per week. In 1B and Part II, you'll have lectures for each of your papers, spread out over the terms, as well as classes for your papers, and supervisions. You no longer have language classes in these years. A typical work week is about 40 hours.


The workload varies greatly from first to third years. As a first year, you can expect to have four language classes a week, and around two lectures a day. In addition, you will have college supervisions, usually around five a week. You should only have to write one essay a week, and the assignments for the other supervisions are all fairly short. The lectures and language classes do not require you to submit any work before hand, although you may be expected to do some readings.
In Part IB, the number of language classes per week drops to two, and the number of supervision drops to around four per week. Lectures can be variable, since many Part IB courses run over four weeks instead of eight, so you are lectured in the same topic twice a week instead of once. Depending of the blend of modules you take, you can end up with a term that is very packed in one section, and very empty in another. However, the lecture load is generally manageable.

What about your course would you change?


The language teaching needs a bit of work, and parts of that have been improving. The current Academic Reps are treating this as a priority. You will need to take language learning into your own hands, and this can be especially difficult considering many students come in with little-to-no prior language learning, let alone in ancient languages. Be prepared that for a lot of students this is the hardest part of the course.


I feel that the quantity of work in Part IA is a lot to handle, particularly in the first term. It does get better once you are able to pick your options, and the Faculty has recently reformed the course to make it less arduous.

A typical timetable

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9am         Language Class
10am Language Class Language Class   Lecture Language Class
11am Lecture Lecture Lecture    
12pm Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture
2pm     Supervision Lecture  
3pm Supervision   Supervision    
6pm   Supervision   Supervision  
7pm         Supervision


Have more questions? Talk to an academic rep

Academic Reps are the voice of students in faculties, departments and schools. Reps have the power to enact changes to education, individually based on their priorities and collectively, working with other representatives across the University. Their responsibilities include taking students’ ideas and concerns to faculty and department boards, relaying important information from those boards back to students, and organising with their peers to foster a subject community.