Classics and Oriental Studies

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Classics and Oriental Studies

This course allows you to combine the study of an Oriental language and culture with Latin and/or Greek and the study of the ancient world. There are two options, Classics with Oriental Studies (Q8T9) and Oriental Studies with Classics (T9Q8). Where Oriental Studies is the main subject, it takes up approximately two thirds of the degree and Classics is an additional subject (approximately one third of the degree). Where Classics is the main subject, you will follow the Classics course for your first five terms, until the first public examination (Mods); then in Finals you will take five papers in Classics and three in Oriental Studies.


Classics and Oriental Studies at Oxford


Oxford is uniquely placed for the combined study of Classics and Oriental Studies, not least in the numerous and varied teaching staff in each faculty. The Ashmolean Museum houses collections of ancient artefacts, including coins, vases and manuscripts. The Sackler Library brings together books on the classical world and ancient Egypt and the Near East, with a particular emphasis on history and art.


Classics and Oriental Studies at St Benet’s Hall


St Benet’s Hall admits three students each year for Classics (including Classics with Oriental Studies where the main subject is Classics) and two students each year for Oriental Studies (including Oriental Studies with Classics where the main subject is Oriental Studies), making a combined cohort of five students. Five places make up about a third of any year in the Hall. Relatively few colleges admit students for Oriental Studies or for Classics and Oriental Studies and the number of places at St. Benet’s can be considered average. Students at St Benet’s can take any of the options within the degree of Classics and Oriental Studies set out below.


For further information about Classics at St Benet's please see the Classics page.


This joint honours degree provides an exciting opportunity for students who want a focus in interdisciplinary studies. We are looking for great potential for the intended course, a capacity for hard and well-organised work, international outlook, and strong motivation. Learning languages and scripts, which may be very different, is fundamental but essay work also requires skills of analysis, argument and description. Students are not expected to have studied an Oriental Language before.


Oriental Studies at Oxford is a Faculty based subject. Teaching for undergraduates at all colleges and halls is organized centrally by the Faculty of Oriental Studies. Lectures, language classes, seminars, and tutorials usually take place in the Oriental Institute. The Institute, together with the Sackler Library and the Ashmolean Museum, is very near St Benet’s Hall. The Hall also has library provision in Oriental Studies and, among college libraries, it has a special focus on undergraduate resources for the relevant subjects.


Oriental Studies undergraduates at all colleges and halls share the same access to teaching staff. At St Benet’s Hall Dr Frances Reynolds is the Senior Research Fellow and Director of Studies in Oriental Studies. She oversees the Oriental Studies courses for all undergraduates at the Hall and liaises across the range of Oriental Studies subjects. She is the Shillito Fellow in Assyriology at the Oriental Institute and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion. She teaches Akkadian, a language related to Arabic and Hebrew, and the culture and history of the ancient Middle East. Her research focuses on Mesopotamia, ancient Iraq, in particular Babylonian and Assyrian religion and scholarship in the first millennium BCE. Ms Katharine Halls is a College Lecturer in Arabic at the Hall and a Language Instructor in Arabic at the Oriental Institute.


Classics and Oriental Studies Course Structure


Classics with Oriental Studies

1st year, 2nd year (terms 1 and 2)

2nd year (term 3), 3rd and 4th years

Follow the course for Classics (refer to Classics page)

Carry on with Classics options and choose Oriental language: Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic and Syriac, Armenian, Coptic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Old Iranian, Pali, Persian, Sanskrit or Turkish.


First University examinations in Classics (refer to Classics page)


Final University examinations:
Eight written papers (five in Classics, three in Oriental Studies); one paper may be substituted by
a thesis


Those who are intending to take Classics as the main subject should make sure they also look at the information on Classics (Literae Humaniores).




Oriental Studies with Classics

1st year

2nd to 3rd or 4th year

Select main language: Akkadian, Arabic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Persian, Sanskrit or Turkish

2nd year may be spent abroad for some Oriental Studies languages. Carry on with Oriental Studies options and choose classical language: Greek or Latin


First University examinations in Oriental Studies (refer to Oriental Studies page)


Final University examinations
Eight to ten written papers (five to seven in Oriental Studies, three in Classics)



Further information about Classics and Oriental Studies (both options):

Student Profile