Classics and English | University of Oxford
Classics and English
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Classics and English

Classics and English appeals to those interested in the interactions of historically diverse literary cultures. English may be taken with Latin or Greek or both. Course I is for candidates with an A-level or equivalent in either Latin or Greek or both: this is a three-year course. Course II is for those who have not had the opportunity to study either language at school or college. It includes a preliminary year, in which students learn Latin or Greek alongside some study of classical literature, so this course lasts four years.

Oxford has a long and distinguished tradition of research and teaching in both Classics and English, and possesses remarkable library provision in both subjects.

The first year of the course (which follows the preliminary year of language learning for those taking Course II) is divided between the classical and English elements. The highlight of the Classics and English course is the link papers, which are studied over the second and third years. They provide an opportunity to compare texts from both sides of the course and to study classical influence. Further papers are also chosen from each of the ‘parent’ subjects.


Many graduates in Classics and English have entered fields such as teaching, the media, management, advertising and librarianship, or have continued to further study in their subject.

Philip, now a writer, says: ‘Since graduating I have embarked on a career in writing and journalism. I have published two novels, write for a wide range of magazines and papers, and am a Contributing Editor to Literary Review, the Periscope Post and Port. My degree helped me develop the analytical, presentational and linguistic skills that are paramount in the media world.’

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other Classics courses or other English courses.

A typical week

Students usually have two tutorials a week, plus language classes. They are often (but not always) working on two papers simultaneously. Most students attend three to four lectures a week and produce around twelve pieces of written work during a term. 

Tutorials are usually up to three students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 15 students.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by academics who are specialists in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by qualified postgraduate students studying at doctoral level.

This table is a summary of Course I. In Course II students have a preliminary year studying Latin or Greek, and then follow the structure outlined below.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

1st year


Five papers are taken:

  • Introduction to English Language and Literature
  • Literature in English 1550–1660
  • Unseen translation for Classics
  • Greek and/or Latin literature (two papers)
Note: Course II students spend an additional preliminary year learning Latin or Greek, alongside some study of classical literature.


Four written papers form the First University Examination, together with a submitted portfolio of two essays for Introduction to English Language and Literature.

All exams must be passed, but marks do not count towards the final degree.

2nd and 3rd years


Seven papers are taken:
  • Two link papers, one compulsory (Epic), and a choice from Comedy, Tragedy, Reception
  • Two papers from the English single honours course, including one period paper not taken in the first year
  • One core paper in Latin or in Greek literature
  • One Classics option
  • Dissertation of 8,000 words, either interdisciplinary or focused on English or Classics
A full list of current options is available on the Classics course website and on the English department website.


Up to three papers examined as coursework (extended essays and dissertation). The remaining papers will then be examined by final written examinations.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

  • A-levels: AAA (with As in Latin and Greek, if taken)
  • Advanced Highers: AA/AAB (with A in Latin, if taken)
  • IB: 39 (including core points) with 666 at HL (with an aggregate of 12 in Latin and Greek, if taken)
  • Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Candidates are expected to have English Literature, or English Language and Literature, to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. Applicants for Course I would be expected to have Latin and/or Greek to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. Course II is designed for candidates with no experience of studying the classical languages.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

All candidates must also take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT) and the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)  as part of their application. 

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support


A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man


Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Classics and English

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written test

All candidates must take both the Classics Admissions Test (CAT) and the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT), normally at their own school or college, on Wednesday 31 October 2018. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the tests at this time. Separate registration for each test is required and the final deadline for entries is Monday 15 October 2018. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline.

Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the CAT page and the ELAT page

Written work

Candidates are normally expected to submit two pieces of written work, where possible one relevant to Classics and one to English, by Saturday 10 November 2018. Candidates will preferably not submit short, timed essays or exercises answering questions on a short passage of text.

What are tutors looking for?

Successful candidates will be expected to display competence in Latin or Greek (or general language aptitude if applying for Course II). They will have read widely in English and classical literature (in the original or translation), and will enjoy talking and writing about literature and approaches to it. Shortlisted candidates may be asked to discuss a piece of prose or verse, supplied before or in the interview.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Classics and English websites.

Suggested reading

Please see the information for Classics and for English.


Laura Wright

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.

India, Course II

'Classics & English at Oxford is an excellent course for those who have a real interest in how the two subjects interact; not only through the fascinating range of link papers available, but also through the number of other papers associated with only one half of the course. There is so much choice, and such personalised teaching due to the small year size, that there are always opportunities to specialise in your own interests, which is a real privilege. I have also been able to study both Greek and Latin from scratch since starting at Oxford, which makes for a deep understanding of classical and modern languages, and a far richer understanding of literature.'


'The tutors really put me at my ease during my interview. My experience is definitely that they would rather have someone who is passionate about a subject they don’t know very much about, than someone who knows a lot but isn’t interested in discussing and learning.

I had applied for Latin, but after I compared Aristophanes to Blackadder in the interview they persuaded me that I really wanted to study Greek. They were definitely right! Now I’m studying literature that I love, in the original language.

I was able to learn Ancient Greek from scratch here. It didn’t come naturally to me, but with an hour-long class every day for a year I was doing prose composition by my third term.

Doing a joint honours course allows you to bring different perspectives to all of your subjects. Thinking about Renaissance literature with knowledge of the Classics means you have a very different perspective from someone studying straight English, for example. It’s a unique kind of literary criticism.

If you think idiosyncratically and are interested in everything, then this is definitely the course to do.

As a state school student from a small village who’d never studied Classics before, I feel it’s important that I do a lot of Access work. I’ve also been involved in my Junior Common Room Committee, the college choir (non-auditioning, thank God!), the college netball team, OUSU women’s campaign … This term, I’m also fashion editing The Cherwell (student newspaper), which involves recruiting photographers, models, locations, clothes, and the graphic design of the page. I also have plans for a blog about ethical, affordable fashion.

I’d really recommend that anyone comes and spends some time in Oxford to get a feel for the place. The pay-off for all this hard work is getting to play about with some fantastic traditions, but you don’t have to buy into them or take them seriously if you don’t want to. I like being part of traditions, but I don’t let them define me. My tutor always says ‘Oxford doesn’t make you – you make Oxford what it is’.


He is now a writer. He says:

‘Since graduating I have embarked on a career in writing and journalism. I have published two novels, and write for a wide range of magazines and papers, and am a Contributing Editor to Literary Review, the Periscope Post and Port. My degree helped me develop the analytical, presentational and linguistic skills that are paramount in the media world.’

For KIS data for this course please see Classics and English.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college

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