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Ancient and Modern History

Ancient and Modern History offers a particularly wide choice of topics and time periods for study, and will particularly appeal to those who wish to investigate connections between the ancient world and more recent historical periods.

When selecting our students, we look for active curiosity about the past, and the ability to analyse information, to argue logically, and to think creatively. While no knowledge of Latin or Greek is required for this course, students will be able to take up Beginning Latin or Greek, and/or continue with Intermediate Latin or Greek during their course. Some syllabus options also allow students to use and expand ancient or modern language skills. Please refer to the University’s History website for details of the syllabus which is common to all colleges.

The syllabus no longer requires a knowledge of either ancient language, but some knowledge of Latin is necessary for certain options, and some acquaintance with either Greek or Latin is an advantage in general terms. We expect candidates to have studied Modern History and/or a Classics related subject (Classics, Ancient History, Classical Civilisation) to A level standard. Recent practice has been to ask candidates to submit two copies of one piece of written work (e.g. school essays); those summoned for an interview have then been asked to discuss in depth the subjects of those essays and other historical topics with which they are familiar. What we look for in successful candidates is an active curiosity about the past, an ability to analyse information, to argue logically, and to think creatively.

Students of this joint school enjoy close connections to the vibrant communities of two of the largest schools in the College, namely Modern History and Classics. Somerville’s outstanding College Library is particularly strong in History, Ancient Art and Archaeology. The Ashmolean museum with its rich Greek & Roman collections and the Sackler Library, one of the best specialist Classics libraries in the world, are five minutes’ walk away, and the History Faculty Library and the Faculty’s Classics Centre are also close by. The College is able to offer some financial support to students who wish to travel to countries they are studying, and there are special funds for travel by history students and for visits to Classical sites.

Students of Ancient & Modern History have the opportunity to acquire skills in analysis and communication that make them attractive for many employers. Somerville students have gone on to careers in media, law, teaching, management, the civil service, and many other destinations.

Somerville was active in setting up this joint school and normally seeks to admit two candidates per year.

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