Classics and Oriental Studies | University of Oxford
Classics and Oriental Studies
Detail of a statue in the Ashmolean Museum.
(Image credit: Richard Watts).

Classics and Oriental Studies

This course allows you to combine the study of an Oriental language and culture with Latin and/or Greek and the study of the ancient world. There are two options: Classics with Oriental Studies (Q8T9) and Oriental Studies with Classics (T9Q8). In each case the subject mentioned first is the main subject (about two-thirds of the degree) and the second subject is an additional subject (about one-third of the degree).

Oxford is ideally placed for the combined study of Classics and Oriental Studies, not least in the numerous and varied teaching staff in each faculty, and the resources of the Ashmolean Museum and the Sackler Library.


Students develop good linguistic and analytical abilities and will be very attractive to employers from a wide variety of sectors. Knowledge of a modern language opens up opportunities for careers with international companies and organisations. 

Related courses

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

A typical week

Your work is divided between classes, lectures and tutorials. Tutorials in colleges usually involve up to three students and a tutor. Class sizes will vary depending on the options you choose, and there are usually 5-20 students in a class. 

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.

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

Classics with Oriental Studies
1st year, 2nd year (terms 1–5)2nd, 3rd and 4th years (terms 6–12)


Follow the course for Classics (refer to Classics page)


Carry on with Classics options and start with chosen Oriental language from

  • Akkadian
  • Arabic
  • Aramaic and Syriac
  • Armenian
  • Coptic
  • Egyptian
  • Hebrew
  • Old Iranian
  • Pali
  • Persian
  • Sanskrit
  • Turkish
The options listed here are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Classics and Oriental Studies websites.

First University examinations in Classics (refer to Classics page)


Final University examinations: Eight written papers (five in Classics, three in Oriental Studies); one paper may be substituted by a thesis.

Oriental Studies with Classics
1st year2nd year (for languages with a year abroad)2nd and 3rd year (for languages without a year abroad)or 3rd and 4th year (for languages with a year abroad)


Select main language:

  • Akkadian
  • Arabic*
  • Egyptian
  • Hebrew
  • Persian*
  • Sanskrit
  • Turkish*
*These languages include a year abroad in the second year.


Year abroad: approved course of language instruction.


Carry on with Oriental Studies options and choose classical language:

  • Greek
  • Latin
A full list of current options is available on the Oriental Studies websites.

First University examinations in Oriental Studies (refer to Oriental Studies page)


Final University examinations: Eight to ten written papers (five to seven in Oriental Studies, three in Classics)

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 and 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 for Classics with Oriental Studies without an A-level or similar qualification in either Greek or Latin will follow Classics Course II – please see Classics page for details.

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.

Classics with Oriental Studies - Q8T9
All candidates must take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT) as part of their application. Candidates intending to study Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, or Persian must take the Language Aptitude Test within the CAT. 

Oriental Studies with Classics - T9Q8
Candidates intending to study Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, or Persian must take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT)

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 Oriental Studies

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 tests

All candidates for Classics with Oriental Studies (Q8T9) must take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT), in their own school or college or other approved test centre on Wednesday 31 October 2018. Candidates for Classics with Oriental Studies (Q8T9) intending to study Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish should always take ‘Part 3’ of the CAT (CLAT, which is a test of language aptitude), in addition to any other parts required. For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the CAT page

All candidates for Oriental Studies with Classics (T9Q8) intending to study Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish must take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) in their own school or college or other approved test centre on Wednesday 31 October 2018.  For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the OLAT page

Candidates must make sure they are available to take the appropriate tests on Wednesday 31 October 2018. 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 the appropriate tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. 

Written work

Candidates are expected to submit two pieces of written work in total by Saturday 10 November 2018. For those taking one or more classical subjects already, at least one of these should be on a classical topic. For those who are not taking a classical subject at school, the written work can be drawn from any subject(s): it is intended to show how you construct an argument and express your ideas in English, so the particular topic of your essay and the A-level (or equivalent) subject from which it is drawn are not important.

Please contact the admissions office at your chosen college if you have any further questions about the submission of written work. For further details, see the Classics and the Oriental Studies pages.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are keen to find out about your linguistic ability and commitment to a wide-ranging course. Ability to sustain an argument is also important.

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

Suggested reading

Please see the information for Classics and for Oriental Studies.


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


'The Classics and Oriental Studies course is an enriching opportunity to broaden the usual frontiers of the study of Classics, by adding to it one language considered to be culturally external to the Greek and Roman civilisations. The languages to choose between are numerous, each of which has the potential to change your perspective both of Classics and of the world. On the other hand, the study of Classics will teach you a lot about how to look at the language of the Oriental Studies part. I am reading Classics IB with Arabic. Having chosen a linguistics paper for Mods (second-year examinations), which focuses on Indo-European, the study of Arabic, a Semitic and unrelated language, is fascinating. In many ways, this course can be remarkably stimulating for students who wish to learn about linguistics. You can choose to take Sanskrit or Armenian, for example, both instrumental in understanding Indo-European. The relationship between a language and its  literature is also something which I find particularly interesting, and Latin, Greek and Arabic are an inviting combination of cases to observe. On an intellectual level, I find my course satisfactory because it is thorough: the fact that I must follow the Classics course until after the middle of second year means that my knowledge of Greek and Latin is stable and accurate when starting to learn Arabic. I also believe that the Classics with Oriental Studies course is interesting in times where cultural prejudices are commonplace. So far, this course has taught me that looking at some things from the outside is the finest lens to see through to their innermost workings. Overall, this external eye has helped me to think about the roots of civilisation and the relationship between language and society. Simply look at the name of the course: who are Classics classic for?'


'I’m a third year studying Classics and Arabic, and absolutely love both my college and my course. I came from a girls’ school with a small sixth form, so I wanted to be somewhere a lot bigger. The size of my college means that you don’t know everyone there, but it makes for a great relaxed and open atmosphere, and there’s always the chance to meet new people.

Classics is fantastic if you’re not quite sure what you like: you can do literature, philosophy, history, and some fairly hardcore linguistics along the way. I did a linguistics paper and a modern philosophy paper for my second year exams, as well as studying the Iliad and the Aeneid.

After those first exams, I chose five Classics papers from a vast range of options, alongside my three Arabic papers. I’m focusing on Greek history and Latin literature, though I’m considering a Byzantine paper as well. The Arabic classes are two hours long, three times a week. This was a bit of a shock to start with but it is really satisfying to come away knowing so much more after each class. Arabic grammar is fiendish, but I haven’t come across anything as bad as Greek -mi verbs yet! It’s really exciting to learn something so completely new – and the Oriental Institute has a great tearoom!

When I’m not rushing between departments, or trying to remember which direction to write in, I’m usually singing in the college’s chapel choir, working as the college’s Environment and Ethics officer, or relaxing at the University Poetry Society.'


She is now a teacher. She says:    

‘After graduating, I initially worked as a Classics teacher at Clifton College, Bristol, before taking up my current position at Beth Jacob Grammar School as an English Teacher. I also work as a Classics tutor during the evenings and at weekends.’

For KIS data for this course please see Classics and Oriental Studies.

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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