How can I read around the subject?

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What tutors are looking for is prospective students who have an insatiable appetite for learning about the Classical world; a capacity and an unstoppable wish to grow in their knowledge and understanding from whatever their starting point.


This commitment to the subject can be demonstrated by entrance candidates in many ways, but a common thread is a proven wish to go ‘above and beyond’ whatever has been required as part of normal school work, not just fulfilling the tasks set but always searching for ways to go the extra mile.


‘Reading around the subject’ is a term commonly used in the context of applications to Oxford and other universities and can certainly be a useful indicator of subject interest and commitment. But there is no reading list for students applying for Classical subjects, as we encourage students to read as widely as possible about any Classics materials they find interesting (in literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, and/or philology), and to think critically about their reading.


It may be helpful to think in terms of extending your reading and exploration of the ancient world from works you may be studying in school. So, for example, if you are working on a tragedy by Euripides either in Greek or in translation, why not look out a few other tragedies by the same author and think for yourself about common threads and important differences? If you’ve begun to find out about the houses and towns in which the Romans lived, why not investigate whether there is a Roman site near you that you could visit, or a museum containing Roman objects?


You may also wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to materials about the ancient world, such as the British Museum or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. See also the links under the various Classics courses on the central university admissions page about ‘Suggested Subject Resources’.


Spread your academic wings and try taking some short independent flights! This will begin to give you a taste for what university work is like and will also help you to come up with your own interesting ideas perhaps to discuss in an interview. Above all, tutors will want to be sure that you will continue to grow throughout your time as an undergraduate, developing your skills and expanding your intellectual horizons.