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Classics degree V Classical Civilisation

(40 Posts)
raspberryrippleicecream Sat 04-Mar-17 23:43:54

DD is considering these for uni. She is a little limited in choices as she has not studied Greek or Latin (no option at her school).

Some unis insist on Greek or Latin for Classics, but would allow Classical Civilisation. What DD is trying to find out if Classics is more highly regarded, or if the uni is more important. Eg at Warwick she could do Classical Civilisation but not Classics. Anybody any thoughts on this please?

tigerdriverII Sat 04-Mar-17 23:49:19

I read Classics in the early 80s. I think that having no ancient languages will be too big an issue for a Classics degree. There will still be boys who have learned Greek at public school for years and years.

I don't think a Classics degree where you start with no ancient languages could be anywhere near as well regarded as a degree in classical civilisation from a top university.

Lapinlapin Sat 04-Mar-17 23:50:13

My instinct would be to say that classics is probably more highly regarded.

However, lots of employers do look at which unis graduates come from. So if she's thinking of going for a 'generic' graduate job afterwards (rather than one which specifies a need for a background in classics/class. civ) then I imagine the university would make more of a difference than the subject.

raspberryrippleicecream Sun 05-Mar-17 00:09:51

Thank you. It is all a bit of a minefield.

There are actually very few unis that seem to insist on the ancient language, but of course Exeter and Warwick which would have been at the top of her list of possibilities do!

On the other hand Oxford actually offers a Classics degree for applicants with no languages, and Durham does not require it.

So on balance she'd maybe better concentrate on Classics and the uni.

tigerdriverII Sun 05-Mar-17 00:29:44

If she can read Classics at Oxford without Ancient languages that might be worth considering. But would there be a huge catch up period? In my day if you didn't have Greek you had to get beyond ALevel standard very quickly

Lalsy Sun 05-Mar-17 00:31:20

Classicist in the family here. For classics courses, if I have understood she will be expected to study one or two ancient languages, but many universities offer the chance to start them from scratch (from memory Warwick is unusual). I would ask, however, how many students starting de novo are still studying that language by third year, for the last few years. I agree with tiger, it is a big ask - she won't be taught with people who have studied it for years (everywhere we looked, the language/lit modules were organised by proficiency not year group) but will still need to get to a certain level(. If she picks a course where the study of an ancient language is optional (ie not classics, mostly), then if she tries it and doesn't like it she can drop it for second year (most courses do not count first year marks towards the final degree).

For classical studies and classical civilization courses, she will probably have the option but it will not usually be a requirement. Classics departments often cover ancient history too so people can study history, literature in translation, philosophy, art etc. People doing ancient languages often pick the rest of their modules from this selection, so there is lots of overlap.

I think she should decide whether she wants, really really wants to study an ancient language in the intensive way that would be required - I realise it is hard to know in advance!. For people that understand the distinction yes classics probably does sound better but a good grade and a subject you enjoy matters too. Our family classicist has a rather niche degree course title and just explains on CVs etc what it is and why she chose it.

May be a bit out of date and all courses vary etc etc....

Lalsy Sun 05-Mar-17 00:33:22

You can study an ancient language at Exeter without any previous study in the classical studies degree (but possibly one, not both languages whereas classics people do both), AFAIR. The modules are the same whatever the degree title.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 05-Mar-17 00:39:28

My DD had been looking at the same options. Both Oxford and Cambridge allow you to do a Classics degree without Latin or Greek. As you say, most Universities have a catch up option. But as someone upthread said you would still be up against someone who had been learning these languages for years.

DD is going for Classical Studies/Civilisation at the best Uni she can get into. I think it's a decent option as offers tend to be lower than comparable courses such as history.

ByTheSea Sun 05-Mar-17 09:04:20

My DD is choosing to study Classics as she really wants a course heavy in the ancient languages and wants to read the literature in their original texts. She is currently doing A-levels in Latin, Classic Civilisation and English Lit. Some Classics courses don't require the previous study of an ancient language, but will concentrate on the languages very intensively once you get there.

Lalsy Sun 05-Mar-17 09:10:26

Tinkly, I am not sure that is true about being up against people who have done it for years. The universities we looked at I think had eg numbered Latin modules and you do (say) one a year. So if you have Latin A level you start on 3 and finish on 5 or whatever. If you don't, you start on 1 and finish on 3. It may well be that doing 1-3 is harder than 3-5 but you will be in a module with other people with the same Latin experience but possibly from different year groups.

horsemadmom Sun 05-Mar-17 09:50:11

Oxford and Cambridge do allow you to do Classics with ab initio Greek and Latin. The learning curve is quite steep and the pace is quick. Is your DD planning to do a Classics summer school? I would highly recommend that she does. DH is an Oxford Classicist and DD1 switched from Classics at the last second before UCAS went in- they both did Latin and Greek.
Look at UCL too.
It is a very highly regarded degree if you do it in it's most rigorous form at a top uni. It's very broad and interdisciplinary. Language, history, philosophy. literature. A real all-rounder degree.

MySoCalledPseudonym Sun 05-Mar-17 09:56:57

When my dd was looking a couple of years ago, most universities offered a Classics degree which required at least one language A level, and then to widen access, they also offered a Classical Studies/Civ degree which had no language requirement but would let you take optional language modules. So with no Greek or Latin A level, you wouldn't actually have a choice of which to go for.

My dd applied for Classics IIa at Oxford (i.e. no language A levels, start Latin, you have the option of adding Greek after Mods) and her other uni choices were all Classical Studies. She's at Oxford now, but tbh would probably be doing better academically elsewhere without the compulsory Latin! She did GCSE and AS Latin, but has recently been diagnosed with dyslexic traits. And also there is a certain amount of university-wide dissatisfaction with the language teaching for course II students. Anyway, she has chosen her Greats options to minimise the amount of Latin.

So look at course requirements and course structure carefully, would be my advice. How did she find languages at GCSE?

But as someone upthread said you would still be up against someone who had been learning these languages for years.

At Oxford (which is all I know about), yes, you will be sitting largely the same exams as the course I students. But you're not being directly compared to them, there's not a fixed number of each class degree to be obtained.

raspberryrippleicecream Sun 05-Mar-17 10:04:02

horsemad we'll hear from Uniq on Wednesday, though it's a long shot! Any ideas about other good courses? Do you mean you're DD switched to Studies/Civilisation?

Thank you all for your input, lots though think about. Lots of points for open day questions too. DD tells me she would like to learn an ancient language. At the moment she has no idea about careers, just wants a good degree she will enjoy doing.

mateysmum Sun 05-Mar-17 10:08:05

My DS looked at this, having done Classical Civ A level and not having latin or greek. In the end he opted for Ancient History as this still offered the chance to do a latin/greek option but without having to read texts in the original language. He is not a great linguist.

My advice would be for your DD to look very carefully at the course structure and content as DS found this varied widely. Some CC courses still wanted a language and were very heavily literature based, others had optional languages/archaeology options etc. There are also some combined honours courses with history etc that might be of interest. The devil is in the detail and in the end this is what will determine your DD's enjoyment of the course.

If your DD is bright enough to go for Oxbridge/Warwick/Durham, then I think Classics is probably a more intellectually rigorous degree, but in the long run, would it make a difference to employment prospects? No. A good degree from any of these - or several other - unis will be well regarded.

Also, I suggest you look at the resourcing and numbers for classics departments. The unis you mention will be fine but some unis run classics on a bit of a shoe string, so make sure there are sufficient students, staff and resources.

raspberryrippleicecream Sun 05-Mar-17 10:08:50

Myso that is very interesting, thank you.

She got A* for French at GCSE and is doing well on her AS course.

sendsummer Sun 05-Mar-17 12:39:30

look up the
A lot of the Latin and /or Greek ab initio students are strongly advised to do one of these courses the summer anyway before they start their degree but if your DD is hesitating about learning Latin and Greek then it would be worth considering doing a beginner's course this summer. They are run by academics from several universities and are very sociable from what my DCs'friends say.

MySoCalledPseudonym Sun 05-Mar-17 17:14:43

So she's doing French A level? That's good, has to be an advantage for her if she's 'language-y' anyway. What's she applied to UNIQ for? (Just being nosy now! My other dd did UNIQ and loved it, such a great scheme.)

raspberryrippleicecream Sun 05-Mar-17 18:41:03

Thanks sendsummer. We'll look at those.

Myso Classicssmile, and she did put a second and third but I can't remember. Not long to wait to find out anyway.

Becca19962014 Sun 05-Mar-17 21:38:28

There are some good summer schools which she could try, the jact site linked to above has the schools that are confirmed at the moment, there are usually more available and they tend to be published towards the end of this term so next couple of weeks.

SportsDHiver Mon 06-Mar-17 14:05:01

Manchester is very good for both, with a lot of flexibility to move between courses, wide choice of modules etc.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 06-Mar-17 15:06:25

My understanding of the difference between Classical Studies and Classics is that Classics is more about studying original texts in the original language. Classical Studies/Civilisation seems to encompass a bit more history, archaeology etc, although it varies quite a bit from Uni to Uni. That is why my DD assumed he lack of A level Classical languages would put her at a disadvantage, regardless of catch up modules.

Lalsy Mon 06-Mar-17 15:27:02

Tinkly, yes, but if your dd does a beginners' module in Latin say, it will be with other people with no previous experience who have chosen that module and may be doing classics or CS or whatever - the modules are usually "shared" across relevant courses (everywhere we looked). From memory, the main difference is that the classics courses require language study and it may be a larger component - so if it turns out you don't like it then yes that is a problem. But Exeter, say, seems to have made language study compulsory for years 1 and 2 of CS now - it didn't used to be. Oxford has separate courses for those with and without previous language experience.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 06-Mar-17 15:45:00

Lalsy But is it not, to some extent, the same as doing a French degree without French A level and only a catch up module? I mean, yes they have the catch up module but meanwhile all the other modules are looking at texts in the original Latin or Greek.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 06-Mar-17 15:48:51

I mean my DD has GCSE Latin and would probably do a Latin module. But she does not feel happy to be accessing material in the original Latin from the off.

Happy to be corrected if this is not how Classics works.

HesMyLobster Mon 06-Mar-17 16:13:11

Hi Raspberry!
Watching this thread with interest as my dd is in the exact same position.

I think she's leaning more towards Classics because she loves languages and is very keen to learn Latin and Greek (neither of which were offered at her school)

She has applied to Uniq too but I thought she wouldn't hear back from them until the end of March?

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