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Classics

A degree in Classics comprises Greek and Latin literature and language together with Ancient History and Classical Studies courses.

What is Classics and why study it?

The debt of world civilization to the cultures of Greece and Rome is immense. Not only did they leave a literature that includes Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the dialogues of Plato, the comedies of Plautus and Terence, and the Aeneid of Virgil; to them we owe also much of modern mathematics, philosophy, law, and political theory, as well as the basic vocabulary of Western architecture and the visual arts. The Christian civilization of mediaeval Europe drew heavily on this legacy; the rebirth of Greek studies in the early modern period revolutionized the intellectual life of the West. To study Classics in the original languages is to engage at first hand with this intellectual tradition. It requires a combination of precise linguistic skills, a mature sense of historical context and development, and an openness to new ways of seeing our own world.

Classics at St Andrews

The School of Classics is one of the largest classics departments in the UK, with sixteen permanent members of staff. It also enjoys an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research which has been repeatedly recognized by independent surveys. Students reading for an Honours degree in Classics at St Andrews may come with an advanced knowledge of Latin, and some with advanced Greek also; however, the School runs successful beginners’ courses in both languages, and it is increasingly common for students to take up either or both languages in this way. The first two years are spent in gaining a thorough grounding in the language and literature of both languages. In the third and fourth year, students choose options reflecting their own special interests. These may include the major genres of Greek and Latin literature, such as Epic, Comedy, or Historiography; they may also include more technical studies. A wide selection of other historical, philosophical and cultural topics, such as Ancient Science, Hellenistic Ethics and Greek Painted Pottery may also be studied.

Benefits of a degree in Classics

  • Excellent linguistic training in the skills of reading and understanding Greek and Latin literature.
  • Strong grounding in the classics of Greek and Latin literature combined with an introduction to the wider culture of the ancient Mediterranean.
  • Wide choice of subjects and approaches at Honours level, with specialist teaching in both literary and linguistic courses.
  • Wide choice of related subjects that may be studied as part of the Single Honours Classics degree, including Greek and Roman political and cultural history, ancient philosophy, archaeology and material culture.
  • Wide range of complementary courses from other departments in the University, such as Mediaeval History, Philosophy, or Modern Languages, which may be incorporated within a Classics degree.

Classics

What the students say

"The Classics staff are very friendly and always accessible to students."

"The lectures are generally well delivered, and unlike many subjects the reading is a pleasure."

"All in all, if you are interested in gaining a good grounding in ancient thought and society, this course is extremely useful."

Undergraduate enquiries

All admissions queries should be sent to the University admissions department; they will forward relevant questions to our admissions officer.

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