A J Shaw
I’m AJ, a second-year Classics student (studying course 1A, meaning I had both Latin and Ancient Greek A-Levels before arriving) from London. I’m also a disabled student, which presents its own unique challenges to studying at Oxford, but with the support of tutors, friends, and staff, I don’t think it’s held me back at all.
The course is initially quite prescriptive: you’ll have weekly language classes at the faculty and your tutorials for the first year and a bit are focussed on giving you a good grounding in the Classical world. On my course, you study both the Iliad and the Aeneid in the original language, so there is certainly a lot to get your teeth into. You do also get some flexibility in options, picking a philosophy subject and your special subject (where the options range from Ancient History to Archaeology to Historical Linguistics). I really like this because it gives you a chance to explore your interests and try things out before you pick your specialties for finals. I enjoy my tutorials a lot: I have found them to be quite relaxed and the conversation is led by the students, allowing you to make the most of your learning. I do an essay each week as well, which gives the opportunity to delve into things that I find most interesting about the topic.
Advice for Applicants
My main piece of advice for preparing for the course is to make sure you consolidate your grammar work and try to read at least some of the set texts in English - this will stand you in good stead for reading in the original, which may appear daunting at first but definitely becomes fun!
Life in Oxford isn’t all about the work - there are a wide variety of clubs and societies both in College and more widely in the University. I have got involved with a little bit of everything, from ballet to LGBTQ+ soc to starting up a mental health magazine! Oxford is a great place to continue your hobbies or pick up a new one (Quidditch anyone?) The collegiate system is fantastic too as your college will come to feel like your family and there is always someone up for a cup of tea; I definitely think Queen’s is one of the friendliest colleges and I have really settled in here and found great support from my friends and fellow students. I’m also part of the JCR (Junior Common Room) committee, as Disability Rep, which helps in advocating for the students and puts on lots of fantastic events. I love being part of this as I get to help out and meet new people. However, it’s also good to spend some alone time, and I am a frequenter of the local cafes where I like to sit and work or read with a good cup of tea: balance is essential to student life here!