Classics (Literae Humaniores)

We are one of the biggest and strongest centres of Classics in the University, with a long and distinguished history. We are unusual in having tutors in all branches of the subject: Jane Lightfoot teaches Ancient Literature, Andy Meadows Ancient History, Paolo Fait Ancient Philosophy, and we are uniquely well equipped in the teaching of the Classical languages, with Stephen Anderson and the legendary David Raeburn providing in-house tuition — not the least reason for applying to New College, especially if you are a keen linguist. We are also home to the Wykeham Professor of Ancient History, Robert Parker, and usually to a Junior Research Fellow in some field within Classics and Ancient History. Add to this the PPE tutors, who will teach you the full range of philosophy options in Greats, and you have a matchless team of experts who will see you through your time with us, with most of the teaching done in-house.

Enthusiasm, commitment, and clear-mindedness are at least as important for a successful application to New College as knowledge of the ancient languages. At interview we will be looking especially for evidence of raw intelligence, not for cramming, and certainly not for superficial polish. Be ambitious and apply here: it cannot possibly harm your chances, and we have an excellent record of finding deserving candidates places in other colleges. By the time you graduate you will have read Homer and Virgil, argued with philosophers ancient and modern on questions of ethics or the nature of the mind, and attempted to understand the great changes in the history of the classical world from the emergence of democracy to the birth of Christianity. Your studies will have benefited from access to an exceptionally strong and well-resourced classical library, with two specialist classical reading rooms. You will have had the opportunity to visit sites in the Greek and Roman world, helped by College grants for this purpose. We cannot guarantee that you will have taken part in a Macedonian cavalry charge, but you may well have acted in one of the classical dramas which David Raeburn regularly stages in the college’s cloisters in the summer term.

Oxford’s most prestigious degree still fosters a range of enviable transferable skills. It teaches how to master evidence and to evaluate it; to analyse arguments; and to express thoughts precisely and persuasively. And of course, Greek and Latin are demanding, so that their study fosters precision and sensitivity in the use of language. It is not surprising, then, that our former students have gone on to an extraordinary range of careers, from teaching and scholarship to law, banking, management consultancy, publishing, advertising, and all branches of the arts. New College classicists work for Goldman Sachs, study in Harvard, and sing in the Monteverdi Choir and the King’s Singers. Employers are enthusiastic about this degree — and so are we.

If you remain to be convinced — come and see us! Everyone is different, and the options available to you in this course are so varied that you may well want to come and discuss your application with a tutor. Come to one of our Open Days or email, who will always be happy to make an appointment to talk to you in Oxford.

For further information on how to apply, entrance requirements and selection criteria, please see the University website and the Faculty of Classics’ website.

Places Available: 
Usually about 6 for straight Classics, though we are flexible; additional places are available for Classics with Oriental Studies and Classics & Modern Languages.