Undergraduates studying Classics at Trinity are part of a long and distinguished tradition. Bentley, Porson, and Housman, the three most famous English editors of Classical texts, were members of the College. Almost every Regius Professor of Greek in recent times has become a Fellow of Trinity, and Classics has always played an important part in the College at both undergraduate and research levels.
At present the teaching staff in Classics at Trinity comprises Nicholas Denyer (Ancient Philosophy). Richard Hunter (Regius Professor of Greek), Professor Philip Hardie (Latin Literature), and Dr Jessica Lightfoot (Greek literature) also contribute to teaching. There are several research students who enjoy discussion and supervision of the special topics on which they are working. Having themselves graduated only recently, they are in a good position to give friendly advice.
The first year of the four-year course concentrates on Latin language, which is taught partly in classes in the Faculty and partly in the College.
In the first two years of the three-year course (Parts IA and IB of the Classical Tripos) teaching in Trinity takes the following pattern:
- Each week a piece of linguistic work is carried out and supervised individually. The work may be a composition in Greek or Latin prose or, in a few cases, verse; or else it will be a piece of unseen translation or a comprehension exercise. We are keen to encourage and develop linguistic skills, and regard both prose and verse composition not primarily as ends in themselves, but as means towards a greater appreciation of literary style. For this reason we hope that those who are interested will start composition from scratch.
- A weekly essay is written and discussed in pairs or a small group. In an eight-week term you may expect to write four such essays on topics in Greek and Latin literature, two on history, and two on philosophy; or two on art and archaeology or philology instead of history or philosophy.
In Part I, linguistic work, literature, and philosophy are dealt with by a Fellow of the College; for history, philology, and art, arrangements are made for some of our students to be supervised outside Trinity. Because of the degree of specialisation involved, teaching in the third year (Part II) tends to be less college based than in the first two years.
Trinity is fortunate in having very considerable funds and endowments for the support of Classical studies in the form of scholarships, prizes and book allowances. Undergraduates who have in mind the possibility of a career in teaching or research can approach their final exams confident that consistently good results will gain for them a Graduate Studentship from the College.
Generous grants are available for travel to Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor. Each Easter vacation a week-long reading party is held on the North Yorkshire moors or in the Lake District.
The undergraduate library has one of the fullest collections of modern Classical works in Cambridge and is more than adequate for the day-to-day needs of most students. The Wren Library has many medieval manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors, and a vast collection of early printed books on Classical subjects.
Applicants for Classics have separate interviews with two members of the College’s academic staff and are asked to send two recent examples of their written work beforehand. The typical conditional offer for those taking A-levels is A*AA; comparable conditions are set for those taking the IB and other school-leaving examinations. There is no quota for the subject, but we usually admit between four and seven Classicists each year. Applications for the four-year course from beginners in Greek and Latin are welcome, and a generous amount of language teaching is provided within the College.
Further information about the Classics course in general: a prospectus is available from the Secretary, Faculty of Classics, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA; or you can visit the Faculty website:
All applicants for Classics are required to take a written assessment at interview, if interviewed.
Classics three-year course
- Translation exercise (60 minutes)
Classics four-year course
- Language aptitude interview (20 minutes)
You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the assessment at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the emails inviting applicants to interview.
Further details about the format of the assessment and preparatory materials can be found on the written assessments page.
Please note that your performance in the assessment at interview will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.
- Mr Nicholas Denyer
- Professor Philip Hardie