Charlotte is mad about Classics

Charlotte McLean studies undergraduate Classics IC at Somerville College, here is her story.

Charlotte McLean


I was lucky enough to attend a comprehensive school with a truly excellent Classics department. Without the help, support and enthusiasm of my Greek teacher, it never would have occurred to me to study Classics, and without her encouragement I certainly would not have considered it possible for me to ever get into Oxford. I love Classics and I love my degree, and I want as many people as possible to be offered the opportunity to study Classics, and to study Classics at Oxford, where the teaching, especially the language teaching, is of phenomenal quality. I decided to apply to Oxford because the rigour of the language teaching was attractive to me, especially as someone who would be learning Latin from scratch. Needless to say, my beginner Latin classes with Juliane Kercheker have been utterly wonderful, inspiring a love of grammar and linguistics in me which I never envisaged waxing so strongly. I was worried before I arrived that everyone would be far advanced in their language compared to me, given that I had received fewer years of classical education at school, especially compared to many who attend top public schools. To my pleasant surprise, the Classics course is incredibly mixed, with a huge range of students from many different backgrounds, with varying experience in Latin and Greek.

Unfortunately, both the University and the course sometimes suffer under misconceptions of being old fashioned and un-diverse, myths so well diffused amongst schools and young people that I almost decided not to apply; I am indebted to my Greek teacher who had the sense to reassure me that these ideas were incorrect. Having actually got here, it is clear to me that these visions of Oxford and Classics are untrue, and it is utterly unfair on young people, some of whom could gain huge benefit and joy out of studying here, that such falsehoods may discourage application.


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