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Latin courses

Once you successfully complete your Latin course, you will be accredited with one course-unit towards a Birkbeck BA degree.

Introduction to Latin

  • Tutor: Dimitra Kokkini
  • Course outline available here.
  • The aim of the course is the introduce students to the basic principles of Classical Latin. It provides a firm basis of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary of the language, through which the students will be able to read and translate into English Roman drama in adaptation. We will be using the texts provided in Reading Latin, as well as additional material depending on progress and the needs of the class. By the end of the year the students will have gained sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to approach and successfully translate adapted passages of Latin prose and drama. No prior knowledge of the language is necessary.
  • Course book: P.V. Jones and K.C. Sidwell, Reading Latin: Text (Cambridge University Press, 1986)
  • P.V. Jones and K.C. Sidwell, Reading Latin: Vocabulary, Grammar and Exercises (Cambridge University Press, 1986)
  • Recommended additional material: J. Morwood, A Latin Grammar (Oxford University Press, 1999) Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer (Longman, 1965)
  • J. Morwood, The Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • N. Goldman and L. Szymanski, English Grammar for Students of Latin (2004)

Intermediate Latin

  • Tutor: Luke Houghton
  • This course is a study of Latin language for students who have completed the Beginners Latin course or an equivalent (Latin to GCSE standard). The course aims to develop the students’ knowledge of Latin grammar and widen their vocabulary, enabling them to master regular syntactical constructions and read standard Latin texts.
  • The course covers sections 4A-5G of Jones & Sidwell’s, Reading Latin. By the end of the course students should be able to understand all syntactical constructions covered in these units and demonstrate their ability by translating from Latin into English and from English into Latin.
  • In addition to the coursebook work, students will study a short unadapted text and practice reading and translating Latin texts at sight.
  • Assessment is by one 3 hour examination.
  • Essential texts: P. V. Jones and K. Sidwell, Reading Latin (Cambridge 1986) [two volumes: Texts + Grammar, Vocabulary and Exercises]
    J. Morwood, A Latin Grammar (Oxford 1999).
    Allen & Greenough’s New Latin Grammar is available as pdf download at

Advanced Latin

  • Tutor: Dr Liz Gloyn
  • This course aims to equip students to read most prose and verse texts with confidence and a high level of grammatical comprehension, and to appreciate stylistic differences between texts.
  • You will need Intermediate Latin or equivalent (eg. A-level) to study this course.
  • Besides grammar work to consolidate your prior knowledge, the course will include unseen translation, prose composition, elementary study of metre, and the study of extracts from a range of authors (eg. Virgil, Livy, Tacitus, Cicero, Apuleius, Horace).
  • Students are expected to do regular preparation of set texts, prose translations and other translation exercises.
  • Assessed by unseen written exams (70%), one 1,500 word essay, normally submitted in March (15%) and one in- class test (15%, taken in January).
  • Essential texts: A. Keller & S. Russell, Learn to Read Latin: Textbook Pt. 2.  Yale University Press 2007 (978-0300120950)
    J. Morwood, A Latin Grammar.  Oxford University Press 1999 (978-0198601999)
  • Optional further reading: Keller & Russell is a very attractive self-contained course with grammar and an excellent range of texts with commentary.  Where difficult points (e.g. gerunds, participles etc.) require additional practice, I shall supply  photocopied material selected from a range of other available courses.

Latin Set Book - Cicero

    Course tutor: Dr Ian Goh


    Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), writer, orator and statesman, was a central figure in the political and social life of his time. He has been considered one of the greatest speakers of his or any generation; he was consul in 63 BCE and a senior figure in the senate thereafter; he lived through and played his part in key events such as the career of Pompey, the civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar, the assassination of Caesar and the rise of Octavian. It is through Cicero’s writings, in the form of letters, speeches and treatises, that we gain much of our source material for the first century BCE.


    In this module we will read two texts by Cicero.  In the autumn term, we will study Cicero’s philosophical treatise, Laelius de Amicitia. This treatise was written in 44 BCE, as Cicero and his allies were coming to terms with Caesar’s grip on power. The subject is how to maintain friendships in the face of both grief and political intrigue. In the spring term we will study what remains of Cicero’s fragmentary speech In Pisonem, given in 57 BCE. Cicero presents a tour-de-force of invective against Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, Caesar’s father-in-law, aiming to discredit him and force a Caesarian divorce. Though unsuccessful in the latter aim, the result makes for entertaining reading.