From Shakespeare to Disney, from the Coen brothers to baroque opera – the tales may be from thousands of years ago, but they are yet to get old. Each generation has rediscovered for itself the language, literature, philosophy, history and archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome, in the period known as classical antiquity (broadly speaking, between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD). In the Middle Ages, classics and education were largely synonymous, while the Renaissance saw many of the ancient Latin and Greek texts rediscovered anew. Classics is the subject studied by individuals as wide-ranging as Boris Johnson and Karl Marx, J.R.R. Tolkein and J.K. Rowling, Stephen Fry and Chris Martin of Coldplay.
The study of the Greek and Roman classics has historically been considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities in the West, and a fundamental element of a rounded education. Though the explicit study of classics has been in relative decline since the 19th century, numerous academic disciplines, including philosophy, mathematics, the sciences and literature, rest upon profound classical roots. Classics today retains its historical elite educational status, and classical scholars are understood to have a rigorous intellectual and academic foundation, steeped in age-old wisdom that continues to warrant respect.
What will you study?
Classics is focused on the language and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome (incorporating the Latin language). Because classics is thus such a broad subject – including within its auspices the study of literature, history, philosophy, languages and archaeology – it is one of the most interdisciplinary of all degrees. Your classics degree is likely to have a strong focus on studying languages, and on self-directed reading, writing and analysis, as well as projects, presentations and group work. Modules you study may include:
- Latin language
- Greek language
- Greek drama: tragedy and comedy
- The ancient novel
- Reading Greek painted pottery
- Ancient Greek philosophy: the pre-Socratic to Aristotle, and beyond
- Greek and Roman Mythology
Each degree will differ, however: the University of Oxford, for example, affords students of classics (known there as Literae Humaniores) the opportunity to take extensive options in modern philsophy.
Many students of classics will have undertaken Latin and/or Ancient Greek at A-level or equivalent. At some universities, this will be a requirement, but not at others: you will need to focus your research on finding the right course for you, given your previous experience of the subject.
What can you do with a classics degree?
Classics is not usually considered a vocational degree, and a classics degree develops an array of valuable, transferable skills. In particular, classicists must demonstrate the ability to research, collate and analyse materials; critical evaluation skills and the ability to interpret resources; the capacity to formulate impartial and coherent arguments; good spoken and written presentation skills; and group working and self-management skills, including being able to meet deadlines. As such, classics graduates are heavily in demand in the labour market, in fields from accountancy to publishing, and from the civil service to the legal profession. Finally, of course, you may love the subject itself so much that you want to work in a directly-related field, in which case options abound – such as academic research, museum and gallery curation, heritage organisations, or teaching at all levels.
https://www.classicalassociation.org/ – The Classical Association
https://blog.oup.com/category/arts_and_humanities/classics_and_archaeology/ – Oxford University Press Classics blog
https://classicalstudies.org/ – Society for Classical Studies
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/cambridge-classical-journal – The Cambridge Classical Journal
https://cucd.blogs.sas.ac.uk/ – Council of University Classical Departments
https://ics.sas.ac.uk/ – Institute of Classical Studies
https://classics.fas.harvard.edu/blogs-news – Harvard University Classics blogs
https://www.ascs.org.au/index.html – The Australasian Society for Classical Studies
https://classicalstudies.org/scs-blog – Society for Classical Studies blog
GCSE, A-level and Degree-level tutoring
Mayfair Consultants offers at home, one-on-one tuition in Classics to clients living across the London area, including students working at GCSE, AS and A-Levels, and those taking undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in the subject (i.e. BA, MA/MSc, PhD). Our fully-qualified Classics tutors are highly skilled specialists, with many holding postgraduate degrees in the subject. They offer clear, concise explanations and stimulating approaches, helping to support the needs of every client. If you’d like arrange private lessons or have any questions about our tuition services please call us on Tel: +44 (0) 207 665 6606 or you can send us an email via our contact form.