Classics and Oriental Studies

James Oakley

I decided to study Classics and Oriental Studies because only Oxford lets you study both subjects in one degree, so I decided to seize the opportunity. What I enjoy most about my course is the massive range of options I can choose to combine the two subjects.

My best memories have been late night sessions revising in the college library with the other Classicists, fuelled by cake, chocolate and kebabs.

James, Wadham, student from 2013

I found it really useful that the course structure allows you to solidify your knowledge of Classics before embarking upon a whole new discipline. The tutorial system can be very flexibly adapted to what you are interested in and where you need help. For example, in addition to fulfilling the set requirements of the course, I will hopefully start reading some Classical Sanskrit theatre soon and should be able to choose which plays I study. In short, it’s a fascinating course that gives you an incredible amount of flexibility to explore the humanities from a plethora of angles.

Mona, St Anne's, student from 2011

The Classics and Oriental Studies course is structured so that you spend the first two years studying solely Classics and then, at the start of your third year, you pick up your Oriental language. For the last two years, you study the two courses simultaneously, finally finishing your degree with three papers in Oriental Studies and three in Classics – all of which you choose yourself. For the first two years, you are essentially studying a fixed set of modules that encompass Roman and Greek literature, Philosophy and History. On top of this, you spend a lot of time on your language work. Whether you are learning both Greek and Latin from scratch, or already have one at A-Level, you spend much of your first five terms poring over tricky yet satisfying translations. By the time you reach third year, all the language work is concentrated on your Oriental language.

What helped inspire your love of the subject?

James Oakley

I was inspired by seeing loads of exhibits in the British Museum and Ashmolean, and reading a lot of the myths and stories from both the Greco/Roman and Egyptian sides.

James, Wadham, student from 2013

Find out more

Course length: Usually 4 years (3 years if Oriental Studies is your main subject and you don't take a year abroad)
Students per year: 4

Make sure you read the official prospectus entry for the course which contains entry requirements, full course structure, additional interesting resources and full details of the application process.

If you're going to apply, you'll want to check which Oxford colleges offer this course.

You might also find it helpful to hear from students studying Classics or Oriental Studies (or even consider applying for those courses!).