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Why study Latin?

The language of an empire that, at its height, stretched from the north of Britain to the banks of the Euphrates, Latin occupies a major place in the history of world culture. Knowledge of it is not only essential to any deep understanding of Roman culture, it remains the key to a literature of unparalleled richness. Apart from the great classical texts of the first centuries BCE and CE, Latin remained the language of learning down to the Renaissance and beyond. It is the language not only of Cicero and Virgil, but also of Augustine, Aquinas, and Newton. Its central place within Western civilisation remains assured.

The study of Latin language and literature is fascinating and rewarding. The Latin-speaking world of Classical and Mediaeval times is the foundation of our modern Western world and Latin is the ancestor of French and Spanish and the other Romance languages; world literature still turns to classical writers for inspiration; and much of our knowledge of European history depends upon documents written in Latin. Any serious student of these subjects will find his or her understanding deepened by study of the ancient world in general and of Latin in particular.

Over a third of the students enrolled in the Arts Faculty at St Andrews take a classical subject at some stage in their course. You can choose Latin in your first year as one of your three subjects, even if you’ve never studied it before. Although you can study it just for one semester or for a year, many who did not intend to take a degree in Latin discover the appeal of the subject and continue through to the Second year and on to Honours level.

Latin at St Andrews

Although the language and literature of the Classical period is central to the course, Latin at St Andrews is not simply a part of 'classics', but a subject in its own right. The course ranges widely from the very earliest, pre-classical period through to the late Roman Empire and the Middle Ages.


What the students say

'The course is excellent, challenging but not overpowering'

'... designed both to reinforce ... basic language skills and to begin a thoughtful examination of Latin literature'

'...some fine teaching and an interesting course...' (First Year Students).

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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