TomHend
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Currently choosing A-levels, any advice for someone looking to pursue a degree in Classics?

Set on:
Latin
Class Civ

Unsure between:
Philosophy and ethics
English lit
History
Politics

I can choose 3/4 A-levels, and plan to do a GCSE in Classical Greek, as well as an EPQ.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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c.aux18
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Hi - Current Y13 here. I do Classical Greek, Latin, and English lit at A-Level (with an EPQ) and I think having Eng lit as your third choice would be a fantastic way to go.

It seems like you want to choose an essay subject for your third choice, as well as an EPQ, so do bear in mind you'll have a lot of writing to do! This can be daunting but it's also the best part of such a combination. You won't have to do properly long essays for Latin until Y13 anyway.

I was in a similar predicament when choosing my subjects, but my reasoning was this: studying English is incredibly useful and enriching for both of your Classical subjects, and the other way around. While Philosophy, another strong choice, might help you acquire knowledge about Classical philosophy, studying English in my experience has also done this (for example, I learnt about Plato's Forms when studying Romantic poetry). A lot of a Classics degree involves careful analysis of literature (both untranslated and in translation), so by studying English you would have the best possible set of skills to transfer to your degree. I've certainly found that the combination is mutually beneficial.

History is the next best contender in my opinion, but depending on the exam board you may end up studying bits of History you have little interest in, and besides, historical context is also a valuable part of several English papers. I also think that Politics wouldn't really do much by way of helping you prepare for the end goal - and it's an A level I'm not sure many people enjoy. With regards to how many A levels to do, I certainly recommend only doing 3, especially given the enormous amount of extra work you plan on setting yourself - Greek GCSE was not easy, and nor was EP! Remember that unis only look at 3 A levels when making offers.

In any case, this decision is totally up to you and whatever feels right - these are just my thoughts. Good luck!!
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TomHend
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Thanks for the advice, I’m leaning towards English Lit, as well as Philosophy, as I could always cut down to three if needs be. I’ve already begun self-teaching Greek, from the OCR John Taylor textbook, and will probably do an EPQ on a topic related to Ancient history. I’d never thought about linking English to Classics in that way (as an A-level), so that really helps. Once again, thanks a lot.
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c.aux18
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(Original post by TomHend)
Thanks for the advice, I’m leaning towards English Lit, as well as Philosophy, as I could always cut down to three if needs be. I’ve already begun self-teaching Greek, from the OCR John Taylor textbook, and will probably do an EPQ on a topic related to Ancient history. I’d never thought about linking English to Classics in that way (as an A-level), so that really helps. Once again, thanks a lot.
No problem! Those 4 would definitely be a fantastic combination. John Taylor is THE man for Greek GCSE - hope that keeps going well. Glad I could help, and I'm excited for you for your EPQ - I did mine primarily as a literature dissertation but I used some Classical texts in it too, and it was so fun.
If you have any more questions feel free to ask!
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TomHend
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(Original post by c.aux18)
No problem! Those 4 would definitely be a fantastic combination. John Taylor is THE man for Greek GCSE - hope that keeps going well. Glad I could help, and I'm excited for you for your EPQ - I did mine primarily as a literature dissertation but I used some Classical texts in it too, and it was so fun.
If you have any more questions feel free to ask!
Just wondering if you were planning on continuing classics to degree level, and if you had any advice on how you managed doing both Latin and Greek, though my Greek will be less intense?
How have you found doing Greek, Latin, and English lit? I’ve heeded your advice and am now looking to do Latin, Class Civ, and English lit. Thanks a lot for all the help!
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c.aux18
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(Original post by TomHend)
Just wondering if you were planning on continuing classics to degree level, and if you had any advice on how you managed doing both Latin and Greek, though my Greek will be less intense?
How have you found doing Greek, Latin, and English lit? I’ve heeded your advice and am now looking to do Latin, Class Civ, and English lit. Thanks a lot for all the help!
I'm actually applying for English! (Cambridge, Durham, St Andrews, York, and Exeter). I debated doing Classics or Combined Honours for the longest time, but in the end I just went for what I loved most, and I find that I can still incorporate Classical literature into my degree. I still find Greek quite difficult, but it's also super rewarding. I also found that doing those three was a really good move since the skills needed are so transferable. I do have 8 set texts from Latin and Greek combined, which is amazing but also hard!! Learning vocab is a massive part of the language side, and so is just knowing your cases and constructions well. Practicing unseen language extracts is the best way of improving translation skills (I'm in the middle of one right now ahaha). Balancing the two isn't as confusing as you might think, you'll manage to keep vocab etc separate.

Good luck!!
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TomHend
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(Original post by c.aux18)
I'm actually applying for English! (Cambridge, Durham, St Andrews, York, and Exeter). I debated doing Classics or Combined Honours for the longest time, but in the end I just went for what I loved most, and I find that I can still incorporate Classical literature into my degree. I still find Greek quite difficult, but it's also super rewarding. I also found that doing those three was a really good move since the skills needed are so transferable. I do have 8 set texts from Latin and Greek combined, which is amazing but also hard!! Learning vocab is a massive part of the language side, and so is just knowing your cases and constructions well. Practicing unseen language extracts is the best way of improving translation skills (I'm in the middle of one right now ahaha). Balancing the two isn't as confusing as you might think, you'll manage to keep vocab etc separate.

Good luck!!
That’s great, hope you get into whichever university you aim for and have a great time. I’ll be sure to incorporate your advice into my studying, thanks again.
Good luck to you as well!
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artful_lounger
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All classics courses will incorporate some literature, while some may focus on that more (usually due to less of a range of options in the other areas of classical inquiry), so A-level English Literature may be useful in giving you some experience and background in literary analysis. The source evaluation aspects of A-level History would also be broadly useful (not only for historically oriented classical courses, but also literary or philosophical, since most texts are known from editions attested quite late, e.g. in the medieval period, and there are issues of textual criticism where that skill could be useful).

Neither of those backgrounds are specifically required though, and you'll soon learn to analyse classical literature in any classics course no matter what your background in that is, plus you have some literary work in the classical civ curriculum anyway. The generalist essay writing skills developed in any of the subjects you suggest will serve you well I'm sure, so I don't think there is really a "best" option. Whatever you think you'll do best in and enjoy the most!

However I would suggest taking only 3 A-levels, especially if you're also doing a GCSE alongside those in Greek, and even more so if you are going to be taking an EPQ. In fact that may actually be more work than is feasible since you'll also be doing A-level Latin so will need to keep on top of the grammar and vocab of two languages, along with your two other A-levels, and then adding an EPQ on top.
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TomHend
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
All classics courses will incorporate some literature, while some may focus on that more (usually due to less of a range of options in the other areas of classical inquiry), so A-level English Literature may be useful in giving you some experience and background in literary analysis. The source evaluation aspects of A-level History would also be broadly useful (not only for historically oriented classical courses, but also literary or philosophical, since most texts are known from editions attested quite late, e.g. in the medieval period, and there are issues of textual criticism where that skill could be useful).

Neither of those backgrounds are specifically required though, and you'll soon learn to analyse classical literature in any classics course no matter what your background in that is, plus you have some literary work in the classical civ curriculum anyway. The generalist essay writing skills developed in any of the subjects you suggest will serve you well I'm sure, so I don't think there is really a "best" option. Whatever you think you'll do best in and enjoy the most!

However I would suggest taking only 3 A-levels, especially if you're also doing a GCSE alongside those in Greek, and even more so if you are going to be taking an EPQ. In fact that may actually be more work than is feasible since you'll also be doing A-level Latin so will need to keep on top of the grammar and vocab of two languages, along with your two other A-levels, and then adding an EPQ on top.
Thanks for the advice, that seems to be the general consensus from everyone that I have asked, so it seems like I’ll do three A-levels. Much appreciated.
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