A level choices for a classics degree

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RedVelvet16
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#1
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#1
How are these a-level choices?
Latin (needed for a classics degree as we study Latin and Ancient Greek)
Computer Science (good for logic and I love coding)
RS (because I love philosophy)
Politics (we study lots of US politics and I believe there are lots of parallels with it to the ancient world)

I have to drop one after the first term of year 12

I'm aiming for top russel group unis so lemme know what you think pls
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artful_lounger
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#2
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I would note that actually A-levels in either of the classical languages is not necessarily required and most classics departments either have variant courses (e.g. classical civ) which allows language study from scratch or enables those without a language background to study from scratch in the main course. This is mainly just for anyone else who sees this, so they realise it is possible to do classics without a background in either classical language

That said, it would be the best preparation for the course even where not required so worth taking. French and/or German are also useful for classics as a lot of the secondary literature is written in those languages (it's essentially required you develop reading ability in at least one of them if you want to do a PhD). Any language background is generally probably going to be helpful preparation just in developing appropriate language learning skills, which will be indispensable.

Otherwise officially there are no requirements and your best option is to take whatever subjects you think you can get the best grades in. That said, every classics course will have a classical literature component, and so having some background in literary analysis from e.g. English literature or classical civilisation at A-level would probably be useful. Beyond that generally any essay based subject would be useful since it's necessarily an essay based field.

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As an aside I don't really think there are that many parallels between US politics and ancient Greek or Roman politics. While the Romans had a senate and the Greeks had democracy, the forms of these are quite different to the modern day forms and not really all that comparable I believe...if you are interested in ancient politics then something like ancient history, or even just history, might be better preparation as you will get used to analysing politics through historical sources (which is all you can do with classical sources), and especially understanding how politics (and more broadly, culture and society) in the past may not have been that similar at all to our politics (or culture or society) and starting to think about them from an emic perspective (i.e. that of the classical civilisation in question, clearly recognising the limits we place by imposing modern standards and expectations on that).
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sammysquasher
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#3
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#3
(Original post by RedVelvet16)
How are these a-level choices?
Latin (needed for a classics degree as we study Latin and Ancient Greek)
Computer Science (good for logic and I love coding)
RS (because I love philosophy)
Politics (we study lots of US politics and I believe there are lots of parallels with it to the ancient world)

I have to drop one after the first term of year 12

I'm aiming for top russel group unis so lemme know what you think pls
Yeah like artful_lounger says u can do classics at cambridge (don't know abt oxford) and most other unis without Latin/Greek a-level, but i think it's an excellent idea to take it because it will make ur first year more fun as you won't just be smashing out grammar. Also, studying the set texts and doing wider reading will let u see if u will actually enjoy studying classics.
DO NOT just apply for classics so u can go the oxbridge - doesn't sound like this is ur plan but it kinda was mine and it was a BAD MOVE
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RedVelvet16
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#4
(Original post by sammysquasher)
Yeah like artful_lounger says u can do classics at cambridge (don't know abt oxford) and most other unis without Latin/Greek a-level, but i think it's an excellent idea to take it because it will make ur first year more fun as you won't just be smashing out grammar. Also, studying the set texts and doing wider reading will let u see if u will actually enjoy studying classics.
DO NOT just apply for classics so u can go the oxbridge - doesn't sound like this is ur plan but it kinda was mine and it was a BAD MOVE
thanks for the reply!

ooo are you studying classics elsewhere?
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sammysquasher
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#5
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#5
(Original post by RedVelvet16)
thanks for the reply!

ooo are you studying classics elsewhere?
no I'm studying classics at cambridge I just kinda wished I'd had the courage to apply for engineering, which is what I really wanted to do, but knew I wouldn't get into cambridge for it...

But if ur sure abt classics those sound like a fascinating set of a levels and u have a v good chance of going to cambridge with latin a level and good gcses + predicted grades!
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RedVelvet16
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(Original post by sammysquasher)
no I'm studying classics at cambridge I just kinda wished I'd had the courage to apply for engineering, which is what I really wanted to do, but knew I wouldn't get into cambridge for it...

But if ur sure abt classics those sound like a fascinating set of a levels and u have a v good chance of going to cambridge with latin a level and good gcses + predicted grades!
yess i'm currently not sure if i should go into a stem subject bc i don't think i'll get into a good enough uni but at the same time i do rlly love latin and languages in general so i thought it would be the best choice.

can i ask what you're thinking of doing after? i have no clue what career classics will allow me to go into -- maybe something in finance?
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sammysquasher
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#7
(Original post by RedVelvet16)
yess i'm currently not sure if i should go into a stem subject bc i don't think i'll get into a good enough uni but at the same time i do rlly love latin and languages in general so i thought it would be the best choice.

can i ask what you're thinking of doing after? i have no clue what career classics will allow me to go into -- maybe something in finance?
pff Yep I'm also thinking of finance, just applied to a few spring insight weeks for this easter (this is a good thing to do in ur first term of uni if ur interested in finance, also try to become treasurer/ president of a society or some sort of leadership role)

or maybe a law conversion course, but honestly I don't know right now
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artful_lounger
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#8
(Original post by sammysquasher)
Yeah like artful_lounger says u can do classics at cambridge (don't know abt oxford) and most other unis without Latin/Greek a-level, but i think it's an excellent idea to take it because it will make ur first year more fun as you won't just be smashing out grammar. Also, studying the set texts and doing wider reading will let u see if u will actually enjoy studying classics.
DO NOT just apply for classics so u can go the oxbridge - doesn't sound like this is ur plan but it kinda was mine and it was a BAD MOVE
Yeah Oxford also has Course II Classics for those without the classical languages.
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RedVelvet16
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(Original post by sammysquasher)
pff Yep I'm also thinking of finance, just applied to a few spring insight weeks for this easter (this is a good thing to do in ur first term of uni if ur interested in finance, also try to become treasurer/ president of a society or some sort of leadership role)

or maybe a law conversion course, but honestly I don't know right now
tyy i will definitely try to take on some leadership role! and good luck with everything else -- my brother just graduated with a history degree and is gonna do a law conversion at bpp or bbp (i cant remember) so i dont rlly wanna do the same thing

do you have any extra-curricular or books suggestions for classics?
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sammysquasher
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#10
(Original post by RedVelvet16)
tyy i will definitely try to take on some leadership role! and good luck with everything else -- my brother just graduated with a history degree and is gonna do a law conversion at bpp or bbp (i cant remember) so i dont rlly wanna do the same thing

do you have any extra-curricular or books suggestions for classics?
Maybe read some first year texts in translation: https://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/stude...-papers-1-to-4
and learn a bit about the key characters of the roman republican period (1st century bc - cicero, caesar, augustus ...). All Cicero's speeches are pretty interesting and important to most Latin lit courses, maybe read In Catilinam or the Phillipics. Also Robert Harris' cicero trilogy is good but makes Cicero seem like a way better guy than he actually was.

On the Greek side maybe learn a bit about the key literary figures and a bit of history of 5th century bc greece (the persian and Peloponnesian wars cos this has so much to do with anything written in that time period). Getting a grounding in history and dates/ bios of key historical figures and writers will be super helpful. Maybe read a class civ a level textbook
Last edited by sammysquasher; 4 months ago
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NS600
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#11
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#11
An ideal combination might be:

Latin
History / (Politics) / RS
A language (French, Spanish, German etc.) / Greek
CS / Mathematics / A science

Especially for a languages degree, universities will be open to a wide range of A-levels. The A-levels you choose should develop your critical thinking and evaluation skills (history) particularly and develop your depth research skills in general to assess the significance (credibility etc) of sources.

Beware that Oxbridge will also require a unique admissions test for Classics.
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RedVelvet16
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#12
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(Original post by sammysquasher)
Maybe read some first year texts in translation: https://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/stude...-papers-1-to-4
and learn a bit about the key characters of the roman republican period (1st century bc - cicero, caesar, augustus ...). All Cicero's speeches are pretty interesting and important to most Latin lit courses, maybe read In Catilinam or the Phillipics. Also Robert Harris' cicero trilogy is good but makes Cicero seem like a way better guy than he actually was.

On the Greek side maybe learn a bit about the key literary figures and a bit of history of 5th century bc greece (the persian and Peloponnesian wars cos this has so much to do with anything written in that time period). Getting a grounding in history and dates/ bios of key historical figures and writers will be super helpful. Maybe read a class civ a level textbook
tysmmmm this is super useful!!
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PinkMobilePhone
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I'd say ideally, Latin, Classical Civilisation, and Ancient History are going to be the most useful, but there's no specific requirements to be honest.
Saying that, Class Civ and Ancient History are going to have some overlap, which might not give you enough depth.

History or English Literature both also have quite a lot of skills that can be transferred to Classics.
Also a language like French, Spanish, or Italian would be useful to supplement the Latin.

Politics, yeah I guess there are a few loose links with US politics.

RS - probably less comparable really, but I guess there are a few links. Ancient Greek and Roman religions / mythology really don't have much at all to do with current religion, but then again I've never studied RE past GCSE so I don't know what the A Level covers

Computer Science is by far the least transferrable to Classics. It has pretty much nothing to do with it.

I did A Levels in Classical Civilisation, French, and Spanish, and I'm now doing a Classical Studies degree
My daughter is going to be doing A Levels in Classical Civilisation, Art, and English Language, and she's wanting to do a Classical Civilisation degree
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Bengcole11
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#14
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#14
(Original post by sammysquasher)
Yeah like artful_lounger says u can do classics at cambridge (don't know abt oxford) and most other unis without Latin/Greek a-level, but i think it's an excellent idea to take it because it will make ur first year more fun as you won't just be smashing out grammar. Also, studying the set texts and doing wider reading will let u see if u will actually enjoy studying classics.
DO NOT just apply for classics so u can go the oxbridge - doesn't sound like this is ur plan but it kinda was mine and it was a BAD MOVE
Hi mate, can I ask what a levels you studied? I really want to go to Oxford for classics as its something that really interests me.
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