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Taking University Latin Courses

By Sonia, published on 19/06/2018 Blog > Academia > Latin > Taking a Degree in Latin

Have you fallen in love with the language of Cicero while doing your GCSE in Latin? Enjoyed translating Latin literature for your A-Levels – and want to continue on with Latin at University?

Superprof is here to help you navigate the word of undergraduate studies in Latin and help you with choosing the institution of higher education that will be your home for the next few years.

What Subjects Include Latin in Their Curriculum?

But what should you study if you want to pursue Latin at a university level after graduation?

Latin as the main subject

Some programmes will let you read Latin and get your undergraduate degree in the language itself. This is useful if you want to work in a research programme for translating Latin literature or get a teacher’s certificate to teach Latin in schools. Obviously, you will still study Latin grammar and vocabulary, but the language courses will be on a much higher level than GCSE or A-levels.

Bachelor programmes can last three to four years, depending on the course. You will attend lectures and seminars, write papers and take exams on what you have learned – much like school, only you will have to decide what information is relevant for yourself.

Programmes centred on a Latin curriculum include:

  • BA in Classics (sometimes coupled with another language such as English, French or Italian)
  • BA in Modern Languages and Latin
  • BA in Latin

If you want to get a teacher’s certificate, it might be best to continue on with that rather than getting a Master’s degree. But if you want to go into linguistics research or bring out a new translation of Virgil, Pliny or Caesar, pursuing an MA diploma will help you be accepted into a research project.

Grad levels for the Latin language include:

  • MA Latin
  • MA Classical Studies (the actual name may vary)

What subjects include Latin in their Curriculum?

But not every college subject where you will need Latin has the name in its title. These are subjects where the emphasis is not on the Latin language, but on the information that Latin texts can give us about Roman culture, religion and mythology (Classical Archaeology, Roman Archaeology, Ancient History), the thoughts of an ancient Roman intellectual or Early Christian scholar (Theology and Philosophy), medieval law and society (Medieval Studies, Medieval Archaeology), medieval literary works and poetry (English literature)…

Rome’s influence was great in the ancient world and Latin remained the lingua franca – or rather, lingua latinain Europe for centuries following the fall of the Roman Empire and the language of science for even longer after that. If you learn Latin, you will access these primary sources easily and understand them better.

Latin is useful for archaeology Latin is useful in Archaeology, either Classical or Early British, in order to decipher inscriptions found on digs. Photo credit: Rafael del Pino on VisualHunt

Any humanities subject pertaining to that time period or whose fundamental works come from then will include reading Latin texts. Note that, especially for undergraduate programmes, every college or university will have different names for what is essentially the same thing. Thus, the civilization of Classical Greece and Rome can be called “Classical Studies” in one UK University, “Classical History” in another, “Ancient History” somewhere else and may even include Egyptian, Celtic or Etruscan history in some cases. Make sure you read the description on the university website so you know what you are getting into.

BA studies are more likely to group together several different subjects; graduate student programmes tend to be more specific.

Going on to postgraduate studies at UK universities

Congratulations, you have passed the exams for your Master’s degree – what now?

Most universities offer a doctoral programme in all their MA subjects – it’s usually mostly a case of finding a professor to sponsor your PhD. Some universities will still require you to attend a certain amount of postgraduate courses or even teach or tutor undergraduates for a semester, or give a lecture on your speciality, but mostly you will be working on your dissertation – doing research or translating texts. With a doctorate, you will be qualified for the better-paying jobs (such as they are) in the humanities sector.

What A-Levels Should You Take to Allow You to Study a Degree in Latin?

When choosing your A-Levels, it’s a good idea to look at the websites of your university to make certain you have the right qualifications for your application.

Obviously, most of the above-mentioned university courses will have Latin as a requirement, but before applying to university it’s important to make sure your other courses are relevant, too.

As such, you might want to consider A-levels in:

  • Ancient Greek
  • History
  • Ancient History
  • Classical Civilisations
  • A foreign language (the literature for historical subjects is often international)
  • English literature

Other university courses where Latin comes in handy

Of course, Latin can be useful even if it isn’t a required A-level. You might even consider adding Latin to your required three subjects in some cases. It is an interdisciplinary subject that opens doors where you might not expect it.

Latin is helpful in medicine. With Latin A-levels, you can better understand the terminology in medecine. Photo credit: Rob Swatski on Visual hunt

For example, ancient languages are useful when studying human or veterinary medicine, or even psychology or social science, where a lot of the terms come from Latin and Greek.

Similarly, if you choose to pursue a career in biology you will encounter a lot of words originating in Latin.

Very often Roman culture had a great influence on the liberal arts such as painting, acting or literature.

The theatre played a large role in Roman culture. The liberal arts often have their origins in Greek and Roman culture. Photo credit: D-Stanley on VisualHunt

Latin is also useful when learning foreign languages. Knowing Latin vocabulary will help you understand the Romance languages of continental Europe, such as:

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Italian

What if you didn’t take Latin qualifications?

It’s not always easy to know what you will want to study beforehand. You might end up applying to a course that requires a certain knowledge of Latin but without ever having studied it at A-Levels.

Fortunately, in most universities, Latin is also taught as a catch-up course, either as:

  • Part of the curriculum: you will be attending Latin classes like everyone else during the academic year, but taking the beginner course instead of advanced. Usually, this means your course will run a year longer. OR
  • Higher education GCSEs or A-Levels: Cambridge, for example, has a GCSE course for those who didn’t do Latin in school or failed their exams.

Either way, though, it is a lot to catch up and will mean a lot of extra work. So consider carefully before dismissing Latin for your school exams!

UK Universities Offering Latin Degrees

There are many prominent British universities offering Latin courses at an undergraduate and graduate level.

Internationally acclaimed Universities in England offering Latin

If you want to study Latin in England, you have a fair amount of choice, as many universities offer a BA in Latin:

UniversityDegreeSubjectDurationTuition fee (per annum)
Royal Holloway, University of LondonBALatin3 years£9,250
Royal Holloway, University of LondonBAEnglish and Latin or Modern Languages and Latin3-4 years£9,250
University College LondonBAGreek with Latin3-4 years£9,250
University College LondonBALatin and English3 years£9,250
University of CambridgeBAClassics3-4 years Information not available
University of NottinghamBALatin3 years£9,250
University of LiverpoolBALatin with various modern languages including Italian, English and German3-4 years£9,250
University of LiverpoolBAAncient History, Classical Studies or Archaeology with Latin3 years£9,250
University of LiverpoolBALatin with Philosophy, Politics or Music3-4 years£9,250
University of ExeterBAModern Languages and Latin4 years£9,250
University of ManchesterBALatin with French, Italian or Spanish4 years£9,250
University of ManchesterBALatin and Linguistics3 years£9,250
University of ManchesterBALatin and English Literature3 years£9,250
University of WarwickBAClassics and English3 years£9,250

Distinguished Universities in Wales with Latin Degrees

Welsh universities also offer Latin courses and classes:

  • Swansea University offers a BA in Ancient History or Classical Civilisation and Latin
  • The University of Wales Trinity Saint David has a BA course in History or Classical Civilisation with Latin

Prestigious Universities in Scotland where you can study Latin

Learn Latin at the University of Edinburgh Get a Latin degree at the University of Edinburgh. Photo credit: Ipoh kia on Visual hunt

You can also get your Latin degree at a Scottish university:

  • The University of Glasgow offers Latin in combination with various modern languages (including French, English and Greek), with Economics, History, History of Arts, Archaeology, Theology and Religious Studies, Music, Computing, Business and Management or English or Scottish Literature, all at an MA level
  • The University of Saint Andrews offers similar MA combinations to Glasgow. Modern languages that can be coupled with Latin include Arabic and Russian.
  • The University of Edinburgh has a course in Latin Studies, Ancient History and Archaeology, all at MA level

Of course, you can also choose to study abroad at top universities in Ireland or on the Continent, for a full course or only a semester. There are various programmes such as Erasmus to help you find a place at European universities for your further education.

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