Access to the ancient world

31st August 2017

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Twenty-two Year 12 students investigated gender and sexuality in the ancient world at Wadham’s annual Classics Summer School, while gaining first-hand experience of university life.

  • Visiting the Ashmolean Museum

  • Studying at Wadham

The summer school, now in its fifth year, is for enthusiastic students aged between 16 and 18 who are either considering applying to study the Classical world at university, or who would like to know more about the various subjects associated with it (Classical Literature, Ancient History, Greek and Latin, Archaeology).

The students are chosen based on academic attainment and their passion for the subject, with reference to Widening Participation factors. Although the summer school is open to all state school students in the UK, around half of participants were from Wadham’s link regions.

Participating students took part in a seminar series focussed on ‘Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World’ delivered by tutors from Wadham College and the Faculty of Classics. They heard talks on topics including male nudity in Greek art, women in Aristophanic comedy, and the Roman empress Agrippina, three of which were delivered by former Wadham Classics undergraduate students (Emma Searle, Henri Willberg, Supratik Baralay). All participants attended intensive daily language classes in Ancient Greek. Undergraduate mentors provided guidance and advice as well as helping the school students with their 1,500 word essays. In addition to a visit to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, the students took part in a 40-minute Oxford-style tutorial with one of Wadham’s Classics tutors (Peter Thonemann, Stephen Heyworth, James Morwood) or Chris Mallan, former doctoral student at the College, now teaching at St Benet's Hall.

By living, eating, and working in Wadham College alongside current students, participants were able to get a feel for Oxford life as well as having an opportunity to explore this historic city.

Nick, 17, from Bedfordshire commented: “It is quite intensive and I am learning a lot from really good tutors. It has encouraged me to think more carefully about exactly what I want to study at university. I would certainly recommend the programme to other school students.”

Wadham’s Tutor for Access and Fellow in Ancient History, Peter Thonemann said: “We had a tremendously talented and committed cohort of students this year, who threw themselves into the summer school with enormous enthusiasm. The best students wrote essays that were easily a match for work produced by good first-year Wadham Classics undergraduates, and we hope that many of them will go on to make successful applications to Oxford and other top universities.  Several of our current Classics undergraduates at Wadham are alumni of the Classics Summer School, and the summer school plays a crucial role in helping us to attract first-class applicants from a broad and diverse range of social backgrounds.  Wadham’s summer schools in Classics, Politics and Engineering would not be possible without the generous support of our Wadham alumni, to whom we are deeply grateful.”

  • Meeting the student mentors

  • Enjoying formal dinner in Hall

  • Students receive certificates and prizes

    Students receive certificates and prizes

  • Prize-winning Classics Summer School participants

    Prize-winning Classics Summer School participants

  • Classics and Politics Summer School participants