Classics and Modern Languages

Dan Etches

I decided to study Classics and French because I have always been interested in languages, cultures, and their development, and so Classics and French seemed like the perfect course. I became particularly interested in studying the philology of Latin and French, and, with philology being a particular strength of the Oxford course, it seemed like a natural choice. What I enjoy most about Classics and French, however, is the great breadth of study and the challenges that it presents, covering everything from translation to the study of sculpture. In a similar vein, the best experience of studying my subject has definitely been leaving a Greek reading class and then going straight on to attend a French translation class, which emphasised the important transferrable skills that can be gained from studying Classics with a modern language.

Dan, New, 3rd year
Rebecca Leigh

What made me decide to study Classics and Italian? The way the two sides of the course, Classics and Italian, would complement one another; the mix of literature and language; the opportunity to study a broad spectrum of material. I'm particularly enjoying studying the Renaissance in Italy for the way it encompasses all aspects of my degree: Latin genres recurring within Italian culture.

Once of my best memories of studying Classics and Italian is of walking to Exam Schools for the last paper of Prelims, heading over with friends on my course and knowing that one last push would show the result of a lot of hard work.

Rebecca, Oriel, 4th year

Classics and French as a combination for me came simply from my indecisiveness, as I loved both and was interested by the links between them. In my first year, I started beginner’s Latin, which was incredibly intense and very challenging, and then in my second year, I picked up French again as well and began to study a wide range of poetry, drama, philosophy and even political writing in both languages. The course allows you to study a huge range of topics before you focus on your particular interests. Though, at times, it can be stressful to combine two demanding disciplines, it’s a journey through the culture of two fascinating worlds!

Lucy, Wadham, student from 2012

Classics and Modern Languages is one of the most broad and varied courses on offer; you can combine a whole host of Modern Languages, from French and Spanish, to Celtic and beginner’s Portuguese, with either Latin or Greek or both, regardless of whether you have studied an ancient language before! The course will either be four or five years, depending on your pre-existing level of Latin or Greek, but either way you get the benefit of a year abroad in the country of your Modern Language. Depending on which course you do, the course layout will vary slightly, but in general you will study as broad a range of subjects in your first few years as students on either of the two courses normally would (lots of literature!), with much more personal choice available for the final examinations.

What helped inspire your love of the subject?

Rebecca Leigh

Before applying to Oxford, I read some works of Italian literature, some in the original language and others in translation; I especially enjoyed the work of Italo Calvino. I also watched my favourite Italian film a couple of times: La vita è bella.

Rebecca, Oriel, 4th year
Dan Etches

Engaging with the subject as broadly as possible was definitely a big part of my decision to study Classics and French. Films such as ‘La Haine’ and books like Apollonius’ Voyage of Argo showed that, by studying the two, one can engage with an incredibly diverse range of cultures and periods, from Bronze Age Greece and before right up to modern France, and this diversity made the course particularly appealing to me.

Dan, New, 3rd year

Find out more

Course length: 4 years (or with a year abroad, 5 years)
Students per year: 9

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 Modern Languages (or even consider applying for those courses!).