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English and Classical Studies BA

UCAS code
Year of entry
Course length
3 years full time
English »
Classics »

By combining English and Classical Studies as a Joint Honours degree you will have the opportunity to study the literature of the English-speaking world alongside ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature, taught using English translations.

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, English offers you the opportunity to study the full historical range of literature in English as well as the latest developments in the field, and even to pursue your own creative writing.

You can discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what is great about Renaissance literature, darken your view of the 18th century, and unpack the Victorians. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas as well as choosing from a huge range of options. You can study Modernism, Postmodernism and American literature, explore literary criticism, develop your own creative writing, and analyse the latest developments in global literatures in English.

  • You will gain a solid knowledge of the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie.
  • Study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

If you are captivated by classical literature and philosophy and are keen to understand more about ancient history and classical archaeology, Classical Studies is ideal.

Classical Studies offers a great deal of choice in subjects related to the ancient world, immersing you in lots of aspects of ancient Greece and Rome – its literature, history, philosophy and archaeology – even its languages; Greek and Latin can be studied at whatever level you’re at and for one, two or three years.

As a student of Classical Studies you will be part of our Classics Department, where the quality of research that informs our teaching and a friendly, individual approach which shapes the way we guide our students combine to create an unbeaten academic experience.

  • The Department of Classics is a centre for excellence in both teaching and research, 98% of our research is recognized as world-leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognized (REF 2014).
  • A thriving Classics Society contributes to the friendly and sociable atmosphere of the Classics department.

Core modules

Year 1

The core modules in English Literature are:

Re-Orienting the Novel
Thinking as a Critic
Introducing English Poetry

Year 2

All modules are  optional

Year 3

All modules are optional

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Optional langauge modules in Classical Studies include:

Computational Finance

In this module you will develop an understanding of the mathematical and computational models of derivative securities. You will look at how these financial instruments facilitate the management of financial risk, and examine tecniques for pricing derivatives and dynamic hedging. You will use these models to solve numerical and theoretical problems, creating computer programs in MatLab that implement valuation algorithms for different derivatives.

Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems


Machine Learning


Semantic Web


Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis


Advanced Data Communications


Concurrent and Parallel Programming


Interconnected Devices


Applications of Cryptography

In this module you will develop an undestanding of cryptography and how it is deployed in real systems. You will look at security services, security models, and basic attacks on cryptosystems, considering the full range of security services that can be provided by cryptography. You will compare different cryptographic mechanisms and the nature of the architecture within which cryptography is deployed. You will also examine the cryptographic standards that should be followed when implementing cryptography and the rationale for the design decisions taken in several widely deployed cryptographic systems. 

Cyber Security

In this module you will develop an understanding of network robustness and failures, together with critical information infrastructures, vulnerabilities, and their dependencies. You will look at the security problems of cyber-physical systems, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control system architecture. You will also consider complex attacks, analytical models for these, and assurance mechanisms.  

Digital Forensics


Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security


Advanced Algorithms




Compilers and Code Generation

In this module you will develop an understanding of the role and structure of a compiler and the standard stages of compilation. You will learn to build a deterministic finite automaton (DFA)-based lexical analyser for a set of specified tokens using regular expressions, and construct regular expressions which define a specified set of strings. You will also consider the use of grammars to define context-free languages, the use of directed translators in constructing intermediate code, types of error detection and recovery, and generating address code from source code.

Computational Optimisation

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic models of computational optimisation and the algorithms for solving optimisation problems. You will look at the theoretical and computational methods for analysing optimisation algorithms, and the software used for problem solving. You will also consider how to formulate problems using linear and integer programming techniques, and examine the usage of construction heuristics.  

Digital Audio and Applications


Functional Programming and Applications


Intermediate Greek
Greek Language and Reading
Intermediate Latin
Latin Language and Reading

Optional introductory modules in Classical Studies include:

Introduction to Greek Literature

In this module you will develop an understanding of the framework of Greek literary history from Homer to Heliodorus. You will look at the chronology of major authors and works, and how they fit into larger patterns in the development of Greek culture and political history. You will examine ancient literary texts in translation, considering issues in key genres including epic, lyric, drama, oratory, philosophical writing, historiography, Hellenistic poetry, and the Greek novel.

Roman Literature of the Republic

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of Roman literature from its beginnings until the end of the Republic. You will look at the work of the major Republican Roman authors Plautus and Terence, Lucretius, Catullus and Cicero. You will consider the issues in the earlier history of Roman literature, including the relationship with Greek models and the question of Roman originality, literature and politics, the use of literature for scientific or philosophical exposition, and the development of narrative style ant attitudes to the Roman Republican past.

Roman Literature of the Empire

In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of Roman literature in the early imperial period. You will look at the work of five authors selected from the Julio-Claudian period, considering the ways in which Roman literature responded to the new political conditions established by the Principate. You will develop your skills in interpretation, analysis and argument as applied both to detailed study of texts (in translation) and to more general issues.

Introduction to Ancient Philosophy

In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

Individual and Community

In this module you will develop an understanding of how classical Greek and Roman societies developed the concept and role of the individual as part of the wider community. You will look at Greek and Roman education, and how that encouraged the formation of ideal behaviour and identity. You will consider the role of rhetoric, and how competition was encouraged within these societies though literary and dramatic contests, sport, military life, and religion. You will examine how these ideas reflect the role of the individual in the community of the cosmos, and the place in society of 'others', including the lower classes, women, children, the elderly, and slaves.

Greek History and the City State

In this module you will develop an understanding of the Greek World in the Classical Period. You will look at the key events in Greek History from 580 to 323 BC and place these in their historical context. You will consider historical problems and critically examine information and accounts set out in the Greek sources as well as in the works of modern historians. You will analyse a range of sources materials, including inscription, historiography and oratory, and develop an awareness of potential bias in these.

Key Themes in Roman History

In this module you will develop an understanding of the development of Roman politics and society over the extended period of Roman history, from early Rome through to the emergence of the Medieval World. You will look at the chronology and development of Rome, examining key themes in the interpretation of particular periods of Roman history, including the rise and fall of the Republic and the Imperial Monarchy. You will consider the difficulties and methological issues in the interpretation of Roman Historiography and analyse a variety of theoretical approaches used by historians.

Studying Classical Antiquity
Introduction to Greek Archaeology
Introduction to Roman Archaeology

Year 2

Optional language modules in Classical Studies include:

Intensive Greek


Optional language-testing author modules in Classical Studies, involving study of Greek and Latin texts in the original language, include:

Hellenistic Epic - Apollonius of Rhodes
Imperial Greek Poetry - Epic and Epigram
Homer (In Greek)
The Tragedy of Euripides
Greek Dramatic Texts 2, Comedy
Plato (In Greek)
Imperial Greek Literature
Greek Historiography (In Greek)
Greek Erotic Poetry (In Greek)
Lucretius and Virgil
Latin Love Elegy
Roman Satire
Latin Epic
Latin Historiography
Catullus and Horace
Latin Letters

Optional literature modules in Classical Studies include:

Homer (In Translation)
Greek Drama (In Translation)
Cinema and Classics

Optional history modules in Classical Studies include:

Gender in Classical Antiquity
Greek Law and Lawcourts
Greek History to 322 BC
Greek Historiography
Augustus - Propaganda and Power
The Roman Republic - A Social and Economic History
The Rise of the Roman Empire - An Economic and Social History
Historiography of the Roman World

Optional philosophy modules in Classical Studies include: 

Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy
The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy

Optional art and archaeology modules in Classical Studies include:

The Built Environment in Classical Antiquity
Greek and Roman Art in Context
Understanding Pompeii and Herculaneum 
Perspectives on Roman Britain

You may also take an optional research module: 


Year 3

Optional literature modules in Classical Studies include:

Cinema and Classics
Roman Oratory
Ancient Literary Criticism
Roman Drama (In Translation)
Greek Lyric, Eros and Social Order
Nature and the Supernatural in Latin Literature
Greek Literature Under the Roman Empire
Studying Ancient Myth
Culture and Identity from Nero to Hadrian
The Roman Novel

Optional history modules in Classical Studies include:

Gender in Classical Antiquity
Greek Law and Lawcourts
Augustus - Propaganda and Power
The Roman Republic - A Social and Economic History
The Rise of the Roman Empire - An Economic and Social History
Alexander the Great
The City from Augustus to Charlemagne - The Rise and Fall of Civilisation

Optional philosophy modules in Classical Studies include:

Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy
The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy

Optional art and archaeology modules in Classical Studies include:

Understanding Pompeii and Herculaneum
Perspectives on Roman Britain
City of Rome
The City of Athens
The Archaeology of the Roman Near East

You may also take an optional research module: 


Each year you will take two course units in each subject.

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory, while others are elective, thereby offering flexibility and some choice. During your second and third years you accumulate the marks that make up your final degree award.

You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, and participate in study groups, essay consultations and guided independent study. In your first year in the English department, you will also work in small groups of just four or five students focusing on study skills such as close reading, essay writing and presentation and self-editing. As you progress through your degree, these tutorials focus on your own personal development, for instance working on your CV. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

All undergraduate degree courses at Royal Holloway are based on the course unit system. This system provides an effective and flexible approach to study, while ensuring that our degrees have a coherent and developmental structure. In the case of combined degree courses, this approach also makes it possible to change the balance of your subjects during your time at Royal Holloway.

You will also take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

In your final year the Classics department offers ongoing support for your dissertation work, if appropriate, which usually includes:

  • Lectures and practical sessions on Dissertation Research Methods e.g. planning your topics, carrying out research, using specialist resources, finding information in print and online, and managing your search results and references. These sessions are run in conjunction with the Library Service and are generally also open to second year students.
  • Short departmental writing ‘surgeries’, in which academic staff offer general writing support if you are experiencing problems and/or if you have specific queries.

The English department use a variety of assessment methods, including long and short essays, formal examinations at the end of each year, online tests and exercises, presentations, commentaries and portfolios of creative work. For classical studies, assessment takes place by a combination of ongoing language tests, written assignments for non-linguistic course units and end of year exams.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 18% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 82% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 16% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 84% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 12% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 88% in guided independent study.


Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 72% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 28% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 70% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 30% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 40% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 60% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels AAB-ABB including B in English

How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.
  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Required/preferred subjects Required subjects: 
  • A Level Grade B English Literature or English Language and Literature and at least five GCSE passes at grades A* to C or 9-4 including Maths and English
Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5 at Higher Level including English Literature with a minimum of 32 points overall  
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction*, Distinction*, Distinction in relevant subject, including distinction in all essay units plus grade A in GCSE English Literature.
BTEC National Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction in relevant subject plus Grade B in A Level English Literature or English Language & Literature  
BTEC National Extended Certificate Distinction in relevant subject plus A Levels Grades A,B including B in English Literature or English Language & Literature  
Welsh Baccalaureate Requirements are as for A Levels where one non subject specified A Level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate - Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate
Scottish Advanced Highers AAB-ABB including English Literature or English Literature & Language
Scottish Highers AAABB including English Literature or English Literature & Language
Irish Leaving Certificate H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level including English Literature or English Lit/Lang at Higher Level  
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass in a relevant subject with at least 24 level 3 credits at Distinction and the remaining level 3 credits at Merit. All level 3 English studies units must be passed with Distinction. Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education 

Other UK qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below

Please select a qualification

Please select a qualification

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

English language

 IELTS 7.0 overall

  • with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in each remaining subscore

For equivalencies please see here 

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Our outstanding record of success for work and further study puts Royal Holloway in the top 10 for graduate career prospects (Complete University Guide, 2015).  It goes to show that our degree programmes not only promote academic achievement but also the means to hone the life-skills necessary to excel, post-graduation. 

Studying Classics involves analysing the cultural, social and political context of the ancient world.  By choosing to study this intellectually demanding discipline you will develop a broad range of skills which are highly prized by employers, including:

  • the ability to communicate views and present arguments clearly and coherently
  • the ability to critically digest, analyse and summarise content
  • time management and the discipline to meet deadlines
  • organisation and research skills
  • problem-solving skills and capability

Right now, we're running work placement schemes with The Daily Telegraph, the BBC's Newsnight and a number of publishing companies. Take part in one of our schemes and you'll boost your employability: not just with something that looks good on your CV, but with real skills to help you understand and prepare for a career. In the course itself, we put a strong emphasis on your employability. 

The skills you gain with us, like research, presentation, teamwork, negotiation and communication, will prepare you for a broad range of careers. It’s why many Royal Holloway graduates have gone on to careers in law, journalism, government, publishing, finances, business, teaching, marketing and the media. Employers like Channel 4, multinational law firm SJ Berwin, The Guildhall (City of London), accountancy firm KPMG, the Natural History Museum, Customs and Immigration, London Advertising, Broadstone Pensions and Investments and the Armed Forces have all recently recruited Royal Holloway alumni from the Department of Classics. 

Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year**: £16,500

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates starting their degrees in 2018 is controlled by Government regulations, and details are not yet known. The UK Government has also announced that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.

**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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