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What is Classics?

The study of Classics is concerned with the language, literature, history and thought of ancient Greece and Rome. Through the reading of literature in the original Greek and Latin and the examination of key aspects of ancient history, you will develop a thorough knowledge of the classical world and a critical approach to textual and material culture. If you have already studied either Greek or Latin at school, you can learn the other language as a beginner from your first year; if you have not studied either Greek or Latin previously, you can start with one language in the first year and with the other in the second year.

Is this the right course for you?

If you are interested in studying the languages, the poetic imagination, the depths of thought and the historical value of two civilisations that shaped the western world, you will enjoy this course.

Why study Classics at Trinity?

Classics has been taught in Trinity since its foundation just over 400 years ago, and Trinity is unique in having professorships in both Greek and Latin. To study Greek and Roman civilisation is to study the roots of western civilisation, the origins of our political and cultural institutions, and to understand how the classical past has profoundly affected ideas and values in the contemporary world. Classics has a central role in understanding the formation of Mediterranean and European identities. It is, by its very nature, interdisciplinary, involving language and literary criticism, history, art history, archaeology, politics, philosophy and religion. The Department of Classics has a world-renowned reputation whose courses are taught by academics at the top of their fields. The course is taught through a mixture of lectures, practical classes and small-group seminars, which encourage lively discussion and the development of independent thinking. It is also possible to study abroad for a semester or a whole year.

What will you study?

Over the four years you will read texts in a wide variety of types of literature, including epic poetry, drama, philosophy, history and letter writing. Whether you are continuing your language studies or taking up the languages as a beginner, you will engage with ancient texts both as literature and as a gateway into culture and thought. Through the critical study of ancient history, myth and religion, you will acquire a comprehensive and interdisciplinary perspective on classical culture. For all of your language-based courses the groups will be small, stimulating lively discussion, analytic skills, and the development of independent thinking.


In first year you will be introduced to the critical study of ancient history, culture and literature. The language-based modules you take depend on whether you have studied both Greek and Latin before or are taking one or both languages as a beginner. Modules are taught by lectures and small-group seminars. There are twelve to fourteen contact hours per week. A combination of end-of-year examination and continuous assessment (e.g. essays, unseen translations and other language tests, textual commentaries, seminar presentations) and a thesis in the final year will form the assessment for this course.

  • Greek and Roman history
  • Mythology and religion

Greek for non-beginners

  • Greek authors – text-based modules which introduce you to the critical reading of Greek literature through a close examination and contextualisation of the oldest and most influential works in western literature: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Histories of Herodotus, the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, and the philosophical prose of Plato.
  • Greek language

Latin for non-beginners

  • Latin authors – text-based modules introduce you to the critical reading of Latin literature through a close examination and contextualisation of Roman poetry and prose from the early republican to the imperial period: the comedies of Plautus and Terence, Cicero’s famous speech On Behalf of Caelius, Virgil’s Aeneid, the love poems of Catullus and Ovid, and the letters of Seneca and Pliny the Younger.
  • Latin language

Greek or Latin for beginners

  • Elementary Greek or Latin – an intensive introduction to the language. By the end of your first year of study you will be ready to read original texts and your command of the language will be at the same level as those who have studied it before entering university. If you have studied neither Greek or Latin in second-level education you will begin the study of one ancient language in first year and the study of the other in second year.


In third and fourth year you will progress to an in-depth study of topics in Greek and Roman literature, history and culture. You will refine your analysis of texts in their literary and cultural context through more specialised skills and methodologies, such as textual criticism, linguistics and literary theories. Greek topics may include Greek historians, Greek comedy, the Greek novel, and Hellenistic poetry. Latin topics may include Augustan poetry, Desire and the body, Latin historians, Satire, and Latin orators. In your third year you will continue to study ancient history, while separate language classes provide additional assistance in improving your fluency and accuracy in reading and interpretation. In fourth year you will write a thesis on a subject of your choice. This is an opportunity to do research which will allow you to develop independent ideas and acquire critical skills, while investigating in greater depth an area that particularly interests you.

Study abroad

The Department has valuable Erasmus links with the Universities of Cyprus, Edinburgh, Geneva, Bordeaux, Freiburg, and Koç (Turkey). Students are also able to avail of University-wide exchanges, for example, to North America and Australia. These opportunities allow students the option of spending a year or part of a year abroad.


Trinity has a long tradition of Classics graduates who have continued onto postgraduate study and successful academic careers both in Europe and America. A Classics degree offers positive advantages in the hunt for a job. Employers consistently express a preference for hiring outgoing, energetic, enterprising people who have learnt more from their degree than merely the details of the subject. Study of the ancient world develops skills of interpretation and communication that go far beyond a knowledge of books, dates and events. Our students find that their degree has been a real education and a source of continuing satisfaction to them, whatever job they go to after leaving us. Recent graduates have taken up careers in journalism, public relations, translation and teaching, and with employers such as the Sunday Independent, the European Commission and merchant banks.

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