Classics (Literae Humaniores) at Somerville is a large and flourishing subject, with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and schools reading for all the different degrees involving Classics, including students who have not studied Latin or Greek before.


Somerville is very fortunate in having four tutors (Classics, Ancient History, Ancient Philosophy and Classical Archaeology) as well as a research fellow and a lecturer in-house, all of whom are involved in the teaching of Classics students throughout their course. 

Our Tutor in Classics is Associate Professor Luke Pitcher, who specialises in Greek and Roman Historiography. He is also a former Somerville student, who led the college team to University Challenge victory in 2002. Associate Professor Beate Dignas is our Ancient History Tutor. Her research centres on late classical Hellenistic civilisation and the cultures and history of ancient Anatolia. Associate Professor Charlotte Potts, our Tutor in Classical Archaeology, returned to Academia after a career in content development for museums in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and the UK. Her current research focuses on evaluating the architecture of pre-Roman central Italy in light of the latest excavations and theoretical developments. Finally, Associate Professor Karen Margrethe Nielsen is our Tutor in Philosophy, and her work explores the questions in Aristotle’s practical philosophy. 

As you can see, you can confidently expect to receive excellent and varied teaching provision within college! They will all be very glad to answer any questions you have if you are thinking of studying one or other of the Classics courses at Oxford.

The College library has an outstanding collection of books and journals in all classical subjects; there are several travel funds (many donated by or in memory of classicists formerly at Somerville) dedicated to providing travel grants to students visiting Greece, Italy and other centres of Greek and Roman civilisation. The Ashmolean Museum, a few minutes’ walk from Somerville, contains an invaluable collection for archaeologists. Nearby is the Sackler Library, a specialist classics library housed in a magnificent new building in St John Street.

Here is our Tutor in Classics Luke on why you should read Classics at Somerville:


Six to eight undergraduates are admitted each year, studying classics (five to seven a year) or one of the joint degrees in classics and modern languages; in addition there are students studying the joint courses of Ancient and Modern History, and Classical Archaeology and Ancient History (CAAH); see separate entries for these.

Many eminent classicists started their careers or taught at Somerville including Tessa Rajak, Caroline Alexander (the first woman to publish a full-length English translation of The Iliad) and Joyce Reynolds (the first woman to be awarded the Kenyon medal).

Next Steps

A considerable number of Somervillians go on to work in the subject, researching or teaching Classics in universities and schools around the world. Many others have gone on to a wide variety of careers outside of the field, including banking, the law, accountancy, management consultancy, television and journalism.

You can read more on the Classics Department website.

Fellows and Lecturers
  • Beate Dignas

    Barbara Craig Fellow & Tutor in Ancient History; Associate Professor in Ancient History
  • Professor Gillian Clark

  • Susan Dunning

    Fulford Junior Research Fellow; SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow; Stipendiary Lecturer
  • Matthew Hosty

    Retaining Fee Lecturer
  • Karen Margrethe Nielsen

    Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy; Associate Professor in Philosophy
  • Luke Pitcher

    Fellow & Tutor in Classics; Associate Professor in Classical Languages and Literature
  • Charlotte Potts

    Woolley Fellow & Tutor in Classical Archaeology; Sybille Haynes Lecturer in Etruscan and Italic Archaeology and Art
Where Next?