Classics and English
Classics and English often appeals to those with a particular interest in literary and cultural interactions; the course reflects the close relationship that has always existed between Classical and English literature and culture.
The joint school in Classics and English offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: tutors in your college will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read.
English may be taken with Latin or Greek or both. For candidates with an A-level or equivalent in either Latin or Greek or both, this is a three-year course (Course I). For those who have not had the opportunity to study either language at school or college there is a preliminary year in which they learn either Latin or Greek, combined with some study of classical literature; for them the course lasts four years (Course II).
The Classics and English degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.
College teaching is the bedrock of the undergraduate experience at Oxford: your tutor will arrange a combination of classes and tutorials so that you benefit from discussing your ideas with your peers as well as in the tutorial situation. University lectures are provided by both Faculties, and supplement and complement the work you will do in your college.
You normally have one tutor for one paper, and this means that the tutor gets to know you and your work well and is able to guide your progress through a paper. A tutorial generally involves you, another student and your tutor for the paper in question. A tutorial gives you the chance to explore, and clarify your ideas about the author or subject. Oxford places considerable emphasis on the production of regular written work, normally in the form of essays. This ensures that you have brought your ideas on a subject to a point where you are able to express them cogently on paper. This kind of training is also excellent preparation for many of the kinds of careers available to you after university.
If you have not studied Latin or Greek at school or college, then your first year will consist of an introduction to your chosen language and its literature. You will then enter the first year of the main course.
In the first year, you will take an introductory course in Language and Literature as well as a course in English specially designed for the joint school, focussing on literature of the period 1550 – 1660, a period when classical influences were particularly strong. From the Classics side, you will study your chosen language to a higher level (examined by translation), and study a range of literature in your chosen language, including the Iliad for Greek students and the Aeneid for Latin students.
In your second and third years, the focus of the course is on two interdisciplinary papers, including a compulsory course in Epic and a choice from Tragedy, Comedy, and a course on modern receptions of classical literature. You can then select two papers from those available to single honours English students, and two from the Classics Faculty. Finally, you will write a dissertation on a topic of your own choosing (connected to wither or both ‘parent schools).
You apply through UCAS, as for any other university. The full information is contained in the University's Undergraduate Prospectus. The prospectus also contains information about different colleges; all colleges publish their own prospectuses too, which are either available direct from the college or available on-line.
To become a student at Oxford you need to be accepted by a particular college, though you apply through a central admissions system. If you don't know which college to name as your preference you can make an open application: details of this are also in the undergraduate prospectus. Offers of places are made at each college on the basis of your school or college record, samples of your school work, your ELAT results (see beneath for further details), an interview, and your past or future results in A levels (or whatever other exams you may be taking); more flexible criteria operate for mature students.
Candidates are shortlisted for interview on the basis of their academic record and promise, as detailed in our selection criteria. Interviews take place in December. You may be interviewed in the course of the same visit by other colleges apart from the one of your first choice; this helps to ensure that the best applicants get into Oxford regardless of the strength of the competition at different colleges. We continue to work to refine our selection procedures, and our updated criteria and processes should be consulted on the website before you make an application.
Most students will have an A level in English literature or English Language and Literature. (Candidates offering English Language A level without English Literature are advised to contact their preferred college to discuss their situation before they apply.) Students applying for joint degrees will generally include in their A levels, or equivalent qualifications, the two subjects they wish to study, unless taking Course II.
All candidates will also take a written test, the ELAT, normally at their own schools/colleges. Further information about the test, including specimen papers, is available from www.elat.org.uk.
Classics and English is not offered at all colleges. You can check which colleges are offering places for this Joint School course in the current Prospectus, on the University’s admissions website, or by contacting individual colleges.
If you possibly can, it really is a good idea to visit Oxford in advance of your application, in order to get a sense of the place and to look round possible colleges to which you might apply. All colleges hold open days during the course of the year. Details of these are generally available on the college's web-page or may be obtained from the Admissions office at each college.
The Faculty of English holds at least one open day a year, normally in September, where applicants can receive information about the joint school. Details may be obtained from the Faculty Office.