Classics: a student's view

Hi all, I’m Tiana and I’m a first year reading Classics at Christ Church. Oxford has the largest Classics faculty in the world and the expertise of the faculty becomes incredibly apparent when you arrive here.

Tiana, one of our Undergraduate AmbassadorsI was not always set on Classics and was torn between many of the humanities – especially History, Philosophy and English. This is why I eventually decided on Classics, as it combines a variety of disciplines: a classicist can dabble in Architecture, Philosophy, Philology and much more. You can even study modern texts alongside ancient ones, which I find particularly interesting as it allows you to see what has changed through history and draw out parallels. I really enjoy Classics here as the tutors help you to explore issues and ideas that you would never have previously considered and you have the privilege to learn from academics who are incredibly well-established in their respective fields. The tutorial system also appealed to me because it means that you get the chance to discuss your ideas in a small group of 2 or 3 with a tutor who will be an expert on that particular text.

I study 1B Classics, which is for those who have studied Latin to A level standard. Here, I therefore I have classes every day in Elementary Greek. The classes are intense but the rapid pace means that you pick up your second ancient language quickly and it does not take long for you to feel comfortable with its grammar. There is also one hour of Latin a week to advance your linguistic skills further. The first year of Classics is the same across the university; you study the Iliad, the Aeneid and a chosen philosophical and historical subject across the three terms. As a classicist, my learning is focused more around my two tutorials a week and my grammar classes than my lectures; normally you will only have around 3 lectures a week. As with many other humanities subjects classicists do not have a huge amount of contact time and instead a typical week is spent doing language grammar work, one essay and preparatory reading of the Aeneid/Iliad.

Christ Church is great for Classics as we have excellent tutors here and also an expansive library which is incredibly well stocked - I very rarely have to go to another library to find a book. People often assume that because Christ Church is such a large college it lacks a welcoming atmosphere but this really is not the case. Everyone is friendly and there is real sense of college pride. Christ Church’s location is another bonus -- we are right in the centre of town -- and there is always something exciting going on near you. It really is something special to be right in the middle of such a vibrant and beautiful city.

Oxford is so much more than just an academic environment and there’s loads of other things that you can get involved in. There are countless numbers of societies to join and a fantastic Union that hosts impressive speakers from all around the world; to get a flavour of this, Jesse Jackson, Emile Sande and Richard Dawkins have all recently spoken. The nightlife is also really fun and there is a huge amount to choose from; if you choose to come to Oxford there will never be a dull moment.

The best advice I can give to anyone thinking of applying is just to give it a go and to not be intimidated by Oxford’s reputation! If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with