University subject profile: classics and ancient history | Education


What you’ll learn

A degree in classics and ancient history will allow you to delve into the ancient past to study the language, history, culture and literature of the two civilisations that led the world for centuries.

The period covered in classics courses begins at the arrival of Greek speakers in mainland Greece around the beginning of the second millennium BC and stretches to the end of the western Roman empire in the fifth century AD.

What you study will depend on the degree and university you pick. Courses are typically divided up into ancient Greek, Latin, classical studies/civilisation and ancient history, each of which will have a different emphasis. Another option is a combined course with archaeology.

To fully understand and appreciate this subject, you’ll need to immerse yourself in it, and that means learning the language and paying a visit. Some universities make modules in Greek or Latin compulsory; for others they may be optional or offered in addition to the regular modules. Either way, learning the language is worth the effort to fully understand the outstanding range of texts the subject offers.

Classics graph.

How you’ll learn

Classics students get around 10 hours’ contact time with tutors through lectures or seminars. This is less than students on other courses and means you’ll need to be prepared to stay focused and learn independently. You may get the chance to study overseas.

What are the entry requirements?

A-levels in Latin, ancient Greek, history, English literature or classical civilisation will all help your application. A language A-level (or equivalent) may be required for some courses.

What job can I get?

It has been said (usually by classics professors) that a classics degree will not prepare you for a specific job, but will prepare you for life. There’s some truth in that. While a career in academia is certainly high up on the list of job options, classics graduates have been known to go into law, medicine, education, science, business, journalism, heritage and the diplomatic service.

It’s the invaluable soft skills (commitment, leadership, communication, teamwork) you will get from this degree that will put you in a good position for just about anything. JK Rowling, who studied classics at Exeter, went on to fill the Harry Potter series with creatures inspired by classical mythology, including the basilisk and Fluffy, the three-headed dog.



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