I recently noticed a real weakness in my university's degree that puts it at a severe disadvantage when competing for Masters courses in the UK. Without going into detail I will be graduating this May with a joint major in Greek & Roman Cvilisation and Archaeology. I was going to move onto something else, but this year I've realised I really don't want to leave the Classics and really want to do an MA in it. I've worked hard for almost 3 years now and I have a scholarship and will hoepfully continue and get my First.
I'm slightly torn between doing an MA in Classical Language & Literature and an MA in Modern Middle Eastern Studies (which will include learning Arabic). MMES suddenly entered my mind in August while I was in Greece and I was reading T.E. Lawrence's (Lawrence of Arabia) Seven Pillars of Wisdom
who had studied Classics at Oxford, was an archaeologist and then worked for the army in the Middle East and led the Arabic revolt against the Turks in the Great War. It was absolutely facinating how he showed the Arab and Muslim mindset and how he viewed it as a Christian aristocrat. I also read a lot of Robert Fisk's work (Middle East correspondent for The Independent
). I've just generally had this massive interest in the Middle East a lot of my life.
But if I took that MA, I'd still probably look at an MA in Classics at some point.
So the long and the short of my problem is I will be graduating with no knowledge of a Classical language. The MSt in Classics at Oxford says it has elementary classes in Greek and Latin. It says on requirements that a classical language is of significant advantage in applying
which implies it is not essential. There are 25 places and last year there were 59 applicants.
I emailed the Director of Graduate Studies for the faculty of Classics at Oxford, and he reckons I have everything for a successful application, but they normally expect a classical language of degree level competence
. He recommended applying in 2012 after I enroll in a course in Latin.
So what do I do? A classical language isn't essential on the website, but this man is telling me otherwise. I'm really tempted to continue and apply...but is it worth it?
My supervisor who did his BA, MA and PhD at Magdelen College, Oxford, after talking to him earlier this year about a degree in Middle Eastern Studies recommended I apply to Trinity College, Oxford for it. I am at no disadvantage language-wise for it...Oxford is one of very few universities that offers courses focused on the Middle East - and I'm almost positive there's no BA version.
So, I think I stand a strong chance of getting the latter MA, so should I just apply for that? Should I bother at all with the MA in Classics at Oxford?
This was my statement of purpose for the MA in Classics
My first experience of Classics was when I was eighteen and I took a module on Homer out of an oblique interest. I was so taken by the depth and magnitude of the two epics and how they conveyed the human psyche and emotions timelessly yet with the preserve of an antiquated period; that it resulted in me changing degrees from a BSc to a BA so that I could study Greek & Roman Civilisation. From there my passion in literature from Antiquity grew so-much-so that I began reading as many of the classical authors as I could, including plenty un-prescribed for my studies. The eclectic mix of disciplines that comes with studying the classics appealed to my broad range of interests and spurred on my dedication to education as a whole, resulting in a dogged determination to be a high achiever and eventually obtain a PhD and contribute to the research in classical literature.
It is in this academic year that I regret immensely not possessing a Classical language to appreciate the sources in their original; and not having taken a degree in traditional Classics, or even single honours Greek & Roman Civilisation, so that I would have an even greater grounding in the subject than I do now. It is with an incentive for an intense and focused instruction in Classical literature and the schooling of a classical language that I am applying for admission to the MSt programme in Greek and/or Latin Language and Literature.