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Classical Studies Track

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Track Description

The Classical Studies program offers the opportunity for sustained and focused inquiry into the history, literature, and culture of the ancient Mediterranean, as well as the impact of classical antiquity on later periods by using a variety of interpretative methods. The program offers students maximum flexibility to chart their course through departmental and related offerings. The particular program for each student is determined in collaboration with the DUS, and should be coherent and lead to viable research projects. Whatever the individual focus, each student’s program must contain eight courses at the 200-level or above (with limited exceptions as described below), including two at the 300-level, plus the Junior Seminar.

Degree Progress Checklist


One course on classical culture, broadly defined: any departmental course, a freshman seminar taught by Classics faculty, HUM 216-217, HUM 247, or other course approved by the DUS. 


Five of the eight courses counted toward requirements must be taught by Department of Classics faculty (in general, these courses will have CLA, CLG, or LAT as the first course code listing; the DUS can approve exceptions for courses taught by affiliated faculty). Three elective courses may be counted toward the concentration that are either cross-listed by Classics or approved by the DUS as relevant to the student’s program of study. Of the eight courses, one must deal primarily with ancient literature, whether read in the original or in translation; the sequence of CLG/LAT 105-108 may be counted as a single departmental course and used to fulfill this requirement. One course must deal primarily with ancient history; this requirement may be fulfilled by taking any of CLA 216-219 (the Greek and Roman history surveys) or an approved alternative. One course must deal substantially with classical reception or comparative approaches to the ancient world; this requirement may also be fulfilled by study of another language relevant to the student’s interests (Akkadian, Modern Greek, etc., at any course level). Students are otherwise free, in consultation with the DUS, to chart their own path through the Department’s offerings.

Junior Seminar

During the fall of the junior year, all concentrators take the Junior Seminar (CLA 340). The course introduces students to different fields of study within the Department, including literature, ancient history, ancient culture, linguistics, and reception studies. Students will gain experience in the methods of their chosen area(s) of study while acquiring an understanding of the history of the discipline and its place in the 21st century. Students will also acquire the skills necessary to pursue independent work. Students who are abroad during the fall of their junior year may complete the Junior Seminar during the fall semester of their senior year.  

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work

In the fall term of the Junior year, each student researches and writes a paper of 12 to 15 pages on a topic of their choosing under the direction of a faculty advisor. Students are advised to begin the project by choosing a “focal point” (for example, a passage of text, a historical event, a material object) that they can investigate in depth, using all the tools of research available to them (including reference works and specialized secondary scholarship). The Junior Seminar will provide guidance in choosing and researching a topic, and concludes with a presentation of the student’s focal point to the class. In the spring term, students undertake a more ambitious research paper of 20 to 25 pages, which they develop in conversation with a faculty advisor, meeting meeting regularly over the course of the term and submitting a prospectus (500 word description and 10-15 item bibliography) on the first Monday following spring break.

Senior Independent Work

At the end of the junior year, concentrators propose a provisional thesis topic to the DUS along with a list of potential faculty advisors, on the basis of which they are assigned a thesis advisor. Students work with their advisor over the course of the fall term, submitting a 1000 word description and 15-20 item bibliography in Mid-October.  This prospectus must be approved by your advisor and will provide the basis for a conversation with the Undergraduate Committee later in the month when you meet to discuss your thesis proposal.  The student works together with their advisor to complete a first chapter of the thesis by the first day of the spring term, and submit a final draft shortly before the end of the spring semester.
Senior Departmental Examination

A thirty-minute oral comprehensive examination focusing on three topics related to courses completed while majoring in Classics is administered during Reading Period of the spring term by the undergraduate committee, chaired by the DUS.  

Students are expected to submit a bibliography of three to five items on each of these three topics two weeks prior to the exam, to the undergraduate coordinator and the DUS, for approval by the DUS.