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A level options for a Classics degree

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    I'm only in year 11 but I'm considering doing a classics degree at university, potentially at Oxford.

    My A level choices are currently Latin, Maths, philosophy and geography/politics.

    I have the option of doing early modern history and English literature at A level but I am not as good at either subject as I am at my chosen subjects.

    Are my options sufficient for this particular degree and which is a better option out of geography and politics? Bearing in mind I'm very passionate about Latin, which shows in my extra curricular activities.


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    I'm tempted to say geography would be better, because as far as I know, politics isn't a facilitating subject, and neither is philosophy, and you really want to have those kinds over others if you're applying for top universities. However, philosophy will be good for essay writing and has clear overlaps with classics degree, so having that would be fine, I'm sure; the concerns arise when you have two non-facilitating ones. But, bear in mind that I'm not entirely sure about philosophy and politics as I'm not taking either of those A levels, so it may be that universities view them as facilitating subjects. :dontknow:

    Anyway, I'm also in Year 11 thinking about Classics, and after looking on university websites (including Oxford, which you expressed interest in), I've found that they normally say that they're not too fussed about A levels as long as you've got Latin/Greek (though you can apply for different courses which don't require either). They say that subjects like history, english, and modern foreign languages are helpful, but not required. I think I recall reading somewhere "science A levels are great so long as you can convince us that Classics is the next step", so they seem to really just be looking for people with a passion for the classics, as opposed to certain "key" A level subjects.

    PS: You might find more answers if you moved this thread to the classics forum.
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    i'm also in year eleven and in the same boat as you, looking at oxford classics as an ambition but A level choices have for a while been a problem for me.

    If you consider your choice random, then consider mine:

    Latin, French, Biology, Economics, (plus maybe Greek)

    i really don't think it matters, or at least i hope not!! :P
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    Again, I'm also in Year 11 intending to study Classics, possibly at Oxford.

    My A Level choices are:

    Math's
    Further Math's
    Latin
    Ancient Greek
    English Literature

    I really don't want to do either Math's or Further Math's, but my school is forcing me to. But that's a different story.

    I think Math's and Philosophy certainly complement undergraduate study of Classics; mathematical and linguistic competence often go hand in hand, and ancient philosophy will feature significantly in the course.

    As with the Geography/Politics option, just choose with whichever you prefer, provided that you are able to justify your decision to the university in question (saying you preferred a subject IS a valid justification for choosing it, if you are able to state why you preferred it). Neither subject is particularly relevant to Classics, as politics mainly focuses on British and American government, not on Athenian Democracy, etc.

    If you are able to study Ancient Greek, at any level, even if on an extra-curricular basis, it would be worth doing. This would show dedication to the subject, and would certainly make the first year of the course more manageable (if you choose to study both Latin and Greek at uni, that is). Besides, it is a fascinating language to study, and I personally find it and its literature more enjoyable than Latin (although I love Latin as well); it is a far more quirky language, and has the ability to be profoundly poetic.

    I hope that has been helpful!


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    I'm currently in Year 12 and aiming to do a Classics degree, my AS Levels were English Lit, Latin, History and French, if that helps (I'm dropping English Lit).

    I think Philosophy is a good choice as it'll get you used to writing essays, plus some of the Oxford Classics course seems to focus on philosophy so it'll show your interest in that area.

    I don't think you'll be disadvantaged by picking Maths or Geography as they're both strong academic subjects anyway. All you really need to do is show your enthusiasm for Classics (which you've shown in your extracurricular activities) once you apply. As for picking Geography or Politics, just pick whichever one you think you'll enjoy more at A Level.

    Good luck! I hope this helped.
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    Glad to hear you're considering a Classics degree! Those choices sound fine. Latin and Greek (if offered at your school) are a must. Obviously not all schools offer them, so if you can't do them this won't be a disadvantage, all this means is that if your school offers the subjects and you don't choose to do them, then universities will question your commitment to the subject.

    As for your other subjects, maths, philosophy and geography or politics are all fine. You have a decent range there. If anything, I'd be swayed more towards politics than geography, because it'll be a more essay-based subject. If you're applying for an arts based degree, it's sensible to have at least a couple of essay-based A levels to show your ability to carry out the sort of work that will be expected of you at university. Maths is also a good choice, since it shows the ability to deal with logic and complex ideas, and it shows that you have a wide skill set.
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    (Original post by bassingabout)
    i'm also in year eleven and in the same boat as you, looking at oxford classics as an ambition but A level choices have for a while been a problem for me.

    If you consider your choice random, then consider mine:

    Latin, French, Biology, Economics, (plus maybe Greek)

    i really don't think it matters, or at least i hope not!! :P
    Well, it actually does matter, up to a point! Why only 'maybe Greek'? Greek and Latin are not required to apply to classics courses at universities, because not all schools offer them. But if you go to a school that offers the subjects and choose not to study one or both of them, then that could be taken to show that you haven't got a particularly strong commitment to classics. If your school offers Greek, but you do not study it, then apply for classics at university, then you will be putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. If you are serious about Oxbridge, then I would recommend in the strongest terms that you take Greek, if it is offered.

    As for your other choices, they sound fine. Latin - obviously great :p:. French will be useful, since linguistic aptitude is a must. Biology and economics will not help, particularly, but they are both academic subjects, so they will in no way hinder your application. 5 A levels is a significant task, though, so perhaps you should consider whether to drop either biology or economics and replace it with Greek.
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    I agree entirely. If you are able to study Greek but do not take the opportunity, you must do so with very good reason. Otherwise it will weaken your application significantly.


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    I applied to study Classics for next year, and received offers from St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and I was pooled by Cambridge before rejection!

    I do Latin, Biology, French and Physics. The general advice I received and would pass on is take subjects you are likely to enjoy, you'll probably do better in them! Unis aren't as bothered about what you take at A-level, more what you get - although you need to show in your personal statement that you've read around the subject.

    Good luck!
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    (Original post by Feefifofum)
    Well, it actually does matter, up to a point! Why only 'maybe Greek'? Greek and Latin are not required to apply to classics courses at universities, because not all schools offer them. But if you go to a school that offers the subjects and choose not to study one or both of them, then that could be taken to show that you haven't got a particularly strong commitment to classics. If your school offers Greek, but you do not study it, then apply for classics at university, then you will be putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. If you are serious about Oxbridge, then I would recommend in the strongest terms that you take Greek, if it is offered.

    As for your other choices, they sound fine. Latin - obviously great :p:. French will be useful, since linguistic aptitude is a must. Biology and economics will not help, particularly, but they are both academic subjects, so they will in no way hinder your application. 5 A levels is a significant task, though, so perhaps you should consider whether to drop either biology or economics and replace it with Greek.
    the greek situation is because i am the only potantial classicist at my school, and greek is not offered, i'm not sure if that will change but if it does, i'll certainly jump at the opportunity! :P i study greek at a once a week small club thing at school, but its not timetabled and officially offered, and i'm going on the bryanston summer school to boost my greek even more, hopefully will show some commitment? :L
    i'll probably drop biology, as that's the 'fun' one for me, and has no real relevance. Having said that, neither does economics, but it's more relevant than biology!
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    (Original post by bassingabout)
    the greek situation is because i am the only potantial classicist at my school, and greek is not offered, i'm not sure if that will change but if it does, i'll certainly jump at the opportunity! :P i study greek at a once a week small club thing at school, but its not timetabled and officially offered, and i'm going on the bryanston summer school to boost my greek even more, hopefully will show some commitment? :L
    i'll probably drop biology, as that's the 'fun' one for me, and has no real relevance. Having said that, neither does economics, but it's more relevant than biology!
    Ah, that makes more sense. In that case, since your school doesn't offer Greek, it will not harm your application not to have A Level Greek, and you've clearly got enough interest to be involved in several extra-curricular activities.

    Bryanston is great fun. You will be rather young though, if you're in year 11 now - most people who go are 18, and have just finished A Levels. I'm sure you'll enjoy it still, but I thought you should be aware of that!
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    (Original post by Feefifofum)
    Bryanston is great fun. You will be rather young though, if you're in year 11 now - most people who go are 18, and have just finished A Levels. I'm sure you'll enjoy it still, but I thought you should be aware of that!
    I've been told this, apparently i'll be among the youngest, and i'll be surrounded by older wisdomous people, especially as i'll be in the intermediate group not sure what to expect, but i'm looking forward to it! :P

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