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Classics (BA): 3-year full-time

The Ancient Greek and Roman worlds offer a wealth of fascinating areas of study, including history, literature, archaeology and philosophy. The BA Classics enables you to develop a high level of competence in Ancient Greek and/or Latin, which you can make the main focus of your degree or use to enrich your study of a wide range of complementary option modules across these different Classical disciplines. Full-time Classics students must have at least introductory-level knowledge of either Greek or Latin, which can be acquired (for example) at a summer school immediately before starting the programme; without this level of preparation, absolute beginners are encouraged to take the four-year part-time version of this course. On the programme, you will develop your skills in one or both languages at a range of levels; you will also have the chance to read ancient texts in depth in the original. 

The modules which you can select to complement your language learning cover the culture or history of Greek and Roman societies across the Mediterranean and Near East, from the archaic period to the Roman imperial period and Late Antiquity, and the reception of Classical culture in later periods of history. Like the language modules, these are taught by international experts in the relevant fields of Classics.

The BA Classics is a structured programme of taught modules, designed to develop understanding and critical skills and a deep knowledge of Classical language, literature and culture. It involves examining the nature of our understanding of the Classical past and its literature. We encourage you to engage with textual material and to question accepted traditions about the past, so that you will develop the ability to construct and present a convincing argument.

This course is also available for part-time evening study over four years.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • In the department as a whole, our wide-ranging programmes encompass fascinating periods and areas of study, from human prehistory through to Classical civilisation, the medieval and early modern periods, and on to twenty-first-century history, politics and international relations.
  • You can expect stimulating teaching from a team of international experts in Greek and Roman history and culture, including Professor Jennifer Baird, Professor Christy Constantakopoulou, Professor Catharine Edwards and Dr Benjamin Gray.
  • The Department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
  • We are also neighbours of, and active participants in, the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London’s Senate House, which has a rich library and programme of events, including many for students.

Course structure

You have flexibility to tailor your degree to suit your particular interests, choosing from a range of options in Classical language, history, archaeology, literature and philosophy.

The options in the early stages of the programme (courses in Greek and Latin grammar and syntax and survey courses such as The Ancient World and The Archaeology of Greece and Rome) prepare you to make more specialised option choices later.

Our position in a leading Department of History, Classics and Archaeology gives you the opportunity, unusual in UK Classical degrees, to study in depth the place of the ancient Mediterranean in world history, as well as its importance for contemporary political and social debates. Specially designed ‘How to’ modules bring together Classics, History and Archaeology students and lecturers to debate shared problems in research, interpretation and writing (Approaching the Past, Exploring the Past, Writing the Past). You can also choose from a wealth of options in the history and archaeology of other periods of history, including both broad surveys and more specialist options.

The programme consists of 11 modules (including a double-weighted dissertation), making a total of 360 credits. We offer language and non-language courses.

In Year 1, you take one compulsory module (Approaching the Past), two Level 4 (beginner), 5 (intermediate) or 6 (advanced) language option modules and one Level 4 non-language option module (usually The Ancient World, but there is a wide choice).

In Year 2, you take two compulsory modules (Exploring the Past and Journeys to the Underworld in Classical Literature and Culture) and two Level 5 or 6 language option modules, OR one compulsory module (Exploring the Past), two Level 5 or 6 language option modules and one Level 6 non-language option module.

In Year 3, you write a dissertation and take one compulsory module (Journeys to the Underworld in Classical Literature and Culture, if not taken in Year 2) and one Level 6 language option module OR one Level 6 language option module and one Level 6 non-language option module.

Language modules are taught at a number of levels of difficulty and analysis, and students who have no prior knowledge of one of the Classical languages will be able to take a beginners' class alongside their other classes. You take a minimum of four language modules, including at least one higher-level 'set book' module in which you read a selected text in depth with an expert lecturer.

Module groups

Year 1 compulsory module

Year 2 compulsory modules

Year 3 compulsory modules

Indicative Greek and Latin modules

Indicative Level 4 option modules

Indicative Level 5 option modules

Indicative Level 6 option modules

Please note that all option modules are an indicative selection only. Except for Level 4 core modules, option modules are usually taught in alternate years, subject to change due to staff departure or temporary leave. Because all modules are rooted in our staff's world-class research, module choices may also change over time to reflect new developments in scholarship and new research directions by individual staff members. Please bear in mind that over the course of an academic year, planning your modules for the following year will become gradually more certain, and you should not consider any options ‘available’ until you are notified of this by the Department via official module choice forms. Even when these have been sent it may be necessary to cancel courses due to circumstances beyond the Department’s control, though this will be avoided wherever possible.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.  

    UCAS tariff points

    112, with A-level in either Greek or Latin.

    The UCAS tariff score is applicable to you if you have recently studied a qualification that has a UCAS tariff equivalence. UCAS provides a tariff calculator for you to work out what your qualification is worth within the UCAS tariff.

    Alternative entry routes

    Access to Higher Education Diploma with a minimum of 15 credits achieved at Merit or Distinction in humanities or social science units.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don’t meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Full-time home/EU students: £ 9250 pa
    Full-time international students: £ 13675 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    TUITION FEE AND MAINTENANCE LOANS

    Eligible full-time and part-time students from the UK and the EU don’t have to pay any tuition fees upfront, as government loans are available to cover them.

    Maintenance loans are also available for eligible full-time and part-time UK students, to assist with covering living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel, books and study materials. From 2018, maintenance loans are available to part-time students for the first time. The amount you receive is means-tested and depends on where you live and study and your household income.

    Find out more about tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time and part-time students at Birkbeck.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures, seminars, smaller classes and tutorials.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    The following information gives an indication of how many contact hours you can expect for each year of this course:

    Year Contact hours
    1 132
    2 144
    3 108

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Each module is examined at the end of the academic year in which it is taken (usually by three-hour papers) and you must write a dissertation of 10,000 words on a subject of your choice.

    Every module you take includes some form of assessment and, in addition, an attendance requirement, so you will need to attend at least 60% of classes in order to pass.

    Breakdown of assessment on this course

    The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework will often depend on the option modules you choose. The approximate percentages for this course are as follows:

    Year % Exams % Practical % Coursework
    1 40 0 60
    2 50 0 50
    3 35 0 65
  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in museums and galleries, research and archiving, or education. This degree may also be useful in becoming an archivist, editorial assistant, higher education lecturer or museum/gallery curator.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

    Graduate Destinations

    Average salary six months after the course: £28000

    Go on to work and/or study:

    Go on to work and/or study
    Now working: 50%
    Doing further study: 35%
    Studying and working: 0%
    Unemployed: 5%
    Other: 10%

    Read more of the statistics for this course on the Unistats website.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    If you are applying for a full-time undergraduate course at Birkbeck, you have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). To apply, go to the UCAS website and click on ‘Sign in’. You will have to register, giving UCAS a few personal details, including your name, address and date of birth, and then you can start working on your application.

    We assess each individual application for potential and talent, and admission is by a combination of application and interview.

    Birkbeck offers a range of free face-to-face advice and support to help you make a successful application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    UCAS Code

    QQP7

    Application deadlines and interviews

    15 January is the first UCAS deadline and the majority of university applications through UCAS are made by then. We welcome applications outside of the UCAS deadlines, so you can still apply through UCAS after 15 January, depending on the availability of places. We also take late applications via the UCAS Clearing system in August.

    Read more about key dates for UCAS applicants.