Why study Classics?
Greece and Rome lie at the root of western civilisation. To understand anything properly you need to have an appreciation of its origins. In studying the Greeks and Romans we are studying the western roots of our own culture.
Classics is a self-contained inter-disciplinary subject. It has links to almost every other arts subject – anthropology, art history, gender studies, history, languages, philosophy, politics, religious studies, theatre studies. Western medicine and science too have their roots in Greece and Rome.
By studying Classics you will develop your awareness of language, your insight into literature and art, your understanding of history and politics, your knowledge of religion and mythology, your appreciation of ethical and social issues. You will certainly broaden your intellectual and cultural horizons. You will also develop valuable generic skills transferable to the outside world.
Classics at Otago
Otago’s Classic Department was the first established in New Zealand, in 1871.
At Otago we offer papers in Classical Studies, Greek and Latin. If you plan to major in Classics in a Bachelor of Arts you can do so with any combination of these three subjects that suits your interests.
No specialist knowledge is required, as Classical Studies, Greek and Latin are all taught from scratch. If you have done Classical Studies at school, you will find that our first-year courses build on and extend your knowledge. Students who have passed NCEA level 3 Latin are granted direct entry into 200-level papers.
Arts degrees are not vocational degrees but provide valuable generic skills in demand in the workplace. For some jobs you may well need further specialist training. However there are plenty of employers who value a well rounded education such as Classics provides. The millionaire financier Sir Robert Jones is fond of saying that he would far rather employ a Classics graduate than a Commerce one. Employers value transferable skills – the ability to think through a problem, to see both sides of the question, to analyse, to present an argument, and to express yourself clearly and fluently.
Recent Classics graduates have made careers not only in school and university teaching but in university administration, foreign affairs, trade and industry, social welfare, local government, tourism, computing, insurance, law, librarianship, bookselling, publishing, museums and art galleries, fashion and design, broadcasting, journalism, tourism and the theatre. This list emphasises the versatility of Classics graduates.
You may be able to do part of your study overseas through the University’s extensive exchange programme or as a postgraduate student. Even if you don’t, your study of Classics is going to enrich your OE enormously. Students repeatedly tell us after all that study, there is something magic about your first glimpse of the Parthenon by moonlight!