This programme combines the comparative study of world literature with special attention to the literatures and cultures of the Classical world. Many of the staff in both Classics and Comparative Literature research how these classical works have influenced later literature, but from different viewpoints – you will have the opportunity to compare these different approaches as well as literary genres, themes and contexts.
The Department of Comparative Literature at King's includes 12 languages and 6 continents, and spans over 2,500 years. Unlike many other programmes, our degree extends beyond the modern literatures of Europe to the Americas, Australia, China, the Middle East, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
King's Department of Classics is acknowledged as one of the very best in the country, for stimulating teaching and overall quality of student experience as well as for cutting-edge research; the variety and flexibility of its teaching fully reflects the richness of the subject. Classics embraces the cultures of Greece and Rome (their languages, literature, thought, religion, art, archaeology and history) and their influence on later ages. The department of Comparative Literature provides research-led teaching with a unique global and historical reach across the world's literatures. While developing existing strengths in modern Europe and the Americas, in recent years we have expanded into Middle Eastern, Asian and African literature.
Studying Greek and Latin is encouraged, and, if pursued, you would be studying major works of classical literature in the original language by the end of your degree. You may also begin or continue other languages at our Modern Language Centre, or take options from the departments of French, German, Spanish or Film Studies.
Teaching in the Department of Classics takes a wide variety of forms, including language-classes, large-group lectures, seminars, and individual supervisions. The particular mix will depend in part on your year of study and in part on the combination of modules you choose. A number of modules involve museum and gallery visits, field trips, and the use of study collections; a growing number have their own web resources and e-discussion groups. Seminar presentations and discussion are important in the first- and second-year modules. One-to-one supervision is a special feature of the third-year dissertation. This range of teaching will equip you with the transferable skills of analysis and presentation that employers value.
Structure of course and assessment
Our degree programmes combine focus and flexibility. In each programme you take a set number of modules directly related to the programme subject and then choose from a wide selection of optional modules. Each year students will normally take modules totalling 120 credits. A generous allowance of free choice means that you can explore much more widely all aspects of the cultures of Greece and Rome. Assessment is typically by a combination of coursework and end-of-year examinations.
London is a superb place to study and experience the Greek and Roman worlds, and all the major resources are within easy reach (and often walking distance) from the centrally located Department of Classics at King's. The British Museum houses one of the world's premier collections of not only Greek and Roman but also Egyptian and Mesopotamian archaeology and art, and is supplemented in this by the Soane Museum, the Museum of London, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. We collaborate closely with the British Museum in our undergraduate teaching.
The major London galleries are full of classically-themed work, just as central London is full of Neoclassical, Greek revival and other classically-inspired buildings. Classical and classically-inspired drama can be experienced first-hand more richly and more frequently in London theatres than anywhere else in the world.
For libraries, normal student needs are served by King's Maughan Library and Information Services Centre, as well as the University of London (Senate House) Library; for the investigation of special topics, there are the world-class research collections of the Institute of Classical Studies and the Warburg Institute.
The King’s Greek Play has been an annual tradition since 1953 and it is the only production in the country to be performed every year in the original Greek. Students (with all levels of Greek) participate in the direction, production and performance of the play, bringing to the stage playwrights from Aeschylus to Aristophanes.
In 2013 the Department of Classics created the Rumble Fund following a generous donation by a former student. This fund is used each year to pay for a group of students to visit classical lands as part of their degree programme.
Students run the Classics Society, which publishes the Satyrica newsletter and organizes regular lectures, theatre outings, themed parties, private tours around museums, nights out and trips abroad – in recent years, group expeditions have been made to Italy and Turkey.
The department also promotes teaching Latin in disadvantaged primary schools through the Iris Project; this offers students a highly unusual experience that is both enriching and will impress future employers.
It is easier now than ever before to spend part of your time as a King's student studying abroad. Second year students have the opportunity to study abroad in the second semester of their second year or for the whole of their second year. Partner universities currently include:
- University of Auckland
- University of Melbourne
- University of Toronto (Full year only)
- University of California
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Up to five places exclusively available for Classics students)
- University of Sydney
Find out more about studying abroad
Our students also have opportunities to attend the annual summer schools at the British Schools in Athens and Rome, and participate in archaeological excavations in Greece and Italy, as well as further afield.