19 new undergraduates have arrived in Oxford to begin the Classics Bridging Course.
Since 2018, this course has been helping high-achieving students from under-represented backgrounds to make a successful start to their first term studying Classics. This year the course is running in collaboration with the University-wide Opportunity Oxford Programme for the first time. The fortnight includes academic activities and allows students to meet some of their peers and explore Oxford.
This year’s course has been particularly useful because it allowed the Faculty to practice new COVID-19 safety measures that allow academic and social activity to take place as safely as possible. The photograph above of some of the students is a great example of social distancing in action.
Professor Neil McLynn, who is the new Faculty Board Chair for Classics, said: 'It is a real pleasure to begin my term as Faculty Board Chair by celebrating the success of the 2020 bridging programme, and by thanking the alumni whose generous support has made this success possible. A major priority as we move forward will be to develop and expand our capacity to attract talent like this to our courses, and to maintain the energy with which this year’s participants are so visibly infused.’
Here, Peter Thonemann, Professor of Ancient History in the Classics Faculty, explains more about the Classics Bridging Course:
“Nineteen upcoming undergraduate students in Classics have been taking a summer bridging programme in Classics to prepare them for the start of their undergraduate course, organised in collaboration with the university’s Opportunity Oxford initiative. All participants have taken a two-week online distance-learning programme, focussing on study skills for university students in the Humanities; they have also participated in a two-week residential programme in Oxford, with an intensive programme of lectures and seminars, essay-writing workshops, language classes in Latin or Greek, and a tutorial with an Oxford tutor.
“Students have covered a wide range of different historical and literary topics, including the Homeric epics, the satires of Lucian of Samosata, and the role of the Christian holy man in Late Antiquity. The programme is an academically demanding one, and we have been fortunate to have a cohort of students of quite extraordinary intellectual calibre and dedication, all of whom visibly have luminously bright academic futures ahead of them.
“The Oxford Classics degree is heavily focussed on the study of the ancient languages (Greek and Latin), which have in the UK traditionally flourished more in independent schools than in the maintained sector. One of the chief aims of the Classics bridging programme (in line with the aims of the wider Opportunity Oxford programme) is to help broaden the demographics of our undergraduate body, by making additional places available for talented students from the most under-represented groups who might not otherwise have received a place at Oxford.
“In Classics, the demographic impact of the programme in its first year has been dramatic. Over the three years from 2016/17 to 2018/19, an average of 31.0% of offers to UK students went to maintained-sector applicants; in 2019/20, that number rose to 48.3%, a rise of 17.3% in a single year, almost entirely thanks to the additional places offered in association with the Classics Bridging Programme. Very many of the students on the programme are alumni of Oxford’s highly successful UNIQ Summer Schools in Classics or the Wadham Classics Summer School.”
For more information about studying Classics as an undergraduate at Oxford, visit the Faculty's website.