I treated my interviews as a mix between verbal, in-person unseen papers, and a conversation with someone who also loves the subject!
What do you enjoy the most about your course?
The intersection between Classics and English: it’s why I chose the course! The link papers are what I’m most looking forward to next year: comparing the similarities and differences between Ancient Tragedy and Epic, and English Tragedy and Epic, and exploring the influence of the former upon the latter.
How is your subject taught
The first year was intensive language teaching every day in a small faculty class (about 9 people). Now it’s a mixture of continuing language teaching (once a week), tutorials, lectures, and classes.
“I had always wanted to study Classics at Oxford from when I was a kid reading the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence.”
What made you decide to apply for Oxford/Oriel and do you have any top tips on the application process?
I had always wanted to study Classics at Oxford from when I was a kid reading the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence. When I’d grown up a bit, I started applying to outreach days at Oxford, and all of the Classics ones (and Classics and English, which I learned about at these events and thought “hey perfect this is both of my favourite subjects in one!”) were held at Oriel, thanks to our former Outreach Officer India having studied Classics and English herself at undergraduate level. I got more and more familiar with Oriel, and (annoyingly cliché as it may sound) I just felt at home when I was here.
Tips: definitely go around lots of colleges on open days if you are able to! There were a lot that I thought would be perfect from looking them up online but when I got there they just didn’t *feel* right. Also talk to current students who are helping out with open days who do your subject! They know what the tutors are like, what the environment of that college is like, how much pastoral support the college provides: the more questions the better!
You cannot visit every college, and not every college does every subject. A little bit of preparation (shortlisting which colleges to visit, excluding the ones that don’t offer your subject) goes a long way. It’s also a good idea to look at college sizes and how many students study your subject per year. At Oriel, for example, they only admit one Classics and English student per year. At other colleges it’s more, around 2 or 3.
“The interviews are there to look for potential, not fully formed genius: after all, what would be the point of you spending 3-4 years studying if you already know everything?”
How did you prepare for your interview?
I was very, very scared, so don’t worry if you are too. I sort of treated my interviews as a mix between verbal, in-person unseen papers, and a conversation with someone who also loves the subject! I thought my Classics interview had gone absolutely terribly, so don’t worry if you feel the same. The interviews are there to look for potential, not fully formed genius: after all, what would be the point of you spending 3-4 years studying if you already know everything? Show that you can approach problems in a creative way, that you are willing to change your opinion when provided with new evidence or thinking, but also that you are willing to stick up for, and by, your ideas with conviction and you will be fine.
What advice do you have for prospective students interested in studying your subject?
Apply to any and all open days, outreach programs, lecture days, etc that you are eligible for. Coming from a state school, and as a disabled person, I was eligible for funded outreach programs for disadvantaged students – you could be too!
“Apply to any and all open days, outreach programs, lecture days, etc that you are eligible for.”
Go through the degree structure for your course and explore what you’re interested in: maybe you’re more into the linguistic, literary side of classics, maybe the art and archaeological side, maybe the historical, or the philosophical. Think about what excites you about the subject, and then explore that further: go to exhibitions of ancient art or archaeological finds (physical or virtual), read different translations of ancient works and think about the differences between them and why they could come about, keep up with news of what’s happening in the field you want to study, read about a historical period of the ancient world that interests you look at different sources from that event. You don’t need to do all of these, don’t worry! But just start to become more engaged with your subject outside of the classroom, and begin to develop your interests within the subject.
What do you like the most about being an Orielensis?
The accommodation (it really is some of the best in Oxford) and how close we are to everything: living just opposite the road from the Radcam is really an amazing thing. Also the Senior Library, which reminds me of the library in Beauty and the Beast and is my favourite library in Oxford (though I may be biased…). Also the porters! Lovely, lovely people and always happy to help.