I moved to Cambridge in January 2014 after completing previous degrees in Classics at the University of Siena (Italy) and Durham University (UK). My strong passion for Classical culture - that also led me to author my first book - brought me to Cambridge University to begin the adventure of a PhD in Classics! What I have found here in both the vibrant city and University, is a great place to live and to study – I couldn’t have made a better choice.
In my Faculty I have been warmly welcomed into an environment, able to stimulate and involve doctoral students in a manner of ways. As an example, there are weekly seminars (across the different Caucuses) organised by the Department, and regular conferences and invited talks, which allow for lively exchange and debate among students and scholars. I am well catered for in terms of resources with access to well-stocked libraries full of friendly and helpful staff, funding to travel to conferences and research meetings in future and above all a supportive and stimulating environment in which to foster my academic development over the coming years.
Having finished secondary education in Belgium and completed my undergraduate degree in Classics at UCL, I came to Cambridge for my M.Phil in 2011 and stayed here for a Ph.D. Cambridge is a truly exceptional place. There is not only a stimulating environment of academic excellence, but also outstanding support from supervisors, lecturers and peers who will help you reach your full potential. The Faculty of Classics has a particularly strong reputation in this.
My Ph.D thesis focuses on aspects and markers of Latin legal language. Thus, I have a general interest in Latin, as well as Italic, linguistics, next to Roman law. Cambridge really is the perfect place for anyone interested in classical / historical linguistics, being one of only a few universities in the UK which offers extensive courses and expertise on this subject, allowing you to interact with fellows as well as post-graduates who share your interests on a daily basis. This interaction is further sustained by the many events – ranging from guest seminars and conferences to casual drinks or dinners – which the individual caucuses as well as the faculty as a whole organise. In short, there are always plenty of academic as well as social activities to enjoy.
I have been in and around the Cambridge Classics Faculty since beginning my undergraduate degree here in 2008, followed by an M.Phil (2011-12), and now the my PhD. Between M.Phil and PhD, I spent a year living in Buenos Aires, which served the dual purpose of spiriting me happily away at the same time as making me realise that there was little I would rather do in the long run than return to Cambridge for further graduate study. I now work on the role of Latin and classical learning under the colonial occupation of Ibero-America and how this is reflected in the Neo-Latin literature written in, or about, the “New World”.
I had always been looking for a way to combine Classics with my love of Spanish and Latin American literary culture, and, thanks to the Classics Faculty, this has been entirely possible. Under the umbrella of “Classics”, graduate students work on a fascinatingly diverse range of topics. This is one of the Faculty’s (many) strong points and never ceases to stimulate a wide array of conversation at graduate seminars – and in the pub afterwards.
In retrospect I am so glad to have taken the “classical route” through my studies: it has set me in wonderful stead, but (or do I mean ‘and’?) in no way limited the scope of the graduate work I knew I wanted to pursue. I now supervise students for both Latin literature in the Classics Faculty and Spanish in the MML Faculty, so it’s all worked out in the end! I should also take this opportunity to mention my other favourite place, the UL (University Library): it really is the most wonderful institution, and my time away from Cambridge attempting to conduct bits of research elsewhere has reminded me how extraordinarily lucky we are to have it just down the road. And of course, last but not least, my fellow Classics grads: a thoroughly excellent team of people – emblematic of Cambridge’s thriving graduate community as a whole – and one which, I have to say, played no small part in my decision to return.
While a PhD student in Japan, I visited Cambridge in 2010, when I had a chance to discuss my work with my current supervisor, prof. David Sedley. That made me decide to come back as an official student in the next year. The supervision system is invaluable. I am always impressed by seeing how carefully my supervisor reads my drafts; his comments and questions greatly improve my writing and keep me highly motivated. When I ask other senior members to read my work, they are equally generous with their time and helpful.
I am also inspired by my fellow students. There are many events in the B caucus (philosophy) where we students can exchange ideas with each other: termly PhD seminars and work-in-progress workshops, and annual graduate conferences and Paris-Cambridge seminars. We are not only cohesive but also diverse. The topics we work on range widely from pre-Socratic to Hellenistic philosophers. Although I myself focus on Plato for my thesis, I strongly feel that discussing with other students here broadens my mind and leads to the clarification of my own work.
I really enjoy my student life here and am sure you will also do. I heartily recommend you to apply!
Coming from Australia to start my PhD in ancient history in 2012, I knew that Cambridge was one of the top places in the world for classics.
I've since learned there's no place like it. I hadn't been prepared for the friendliness of the department - the grad community in particular is so supportive, and we have a chance to share our research, not just at the weekly caucus seminars, but at weekly inter-disciplinary grad-only seminars. Get-togethers like this make clear the extraordinary strength of the department across virtually all areas of the classical past. No matter what your area, no matter what your problem, there's inevitably someone who knows or can help. Needless to say, the library has an outstanding collection and, if ever you're in need of a break, there's always the impressive cast gallery upstairs.
I'm working on the financial rhetoric of the Athenian orator Demosthenes in the fourth century BCE, under the supervision of Robin Osborne. I've had so many conversations with people working on completely different areas which have opened my eyes to new possibilities, and sent me down some intriguing rabbit-holes. The college system at Cambridge is massively helpful in the same way because it puts you in contact with researchers in other faculties, and offers so much in terms of delightful distractions. It really is stunning how much Cambridge offers.
"I moved to Cambridge for my PhD in 2011. Having done my previous degrees in Scotland and Estonia, I was really excited, if also slightly daunted, by this change.
"I very soon discovered that Cambridge is an ideal place to do a PhD, for lots of reasons: work-wise, it has excellent resources (I’ve grown especially attached to the Classics library) and, most importantly, a fabulous faculty with lots of people to talk about your research. I am constantly inspired by the people I meet here, both academics (including my supervisor Prof Richard Hunter) and other postgraduates. There are always ways to get involved with things that you particularly like: exchange ideas with other postgraduates at the weekly Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, take part in an academic exchange with the Classics department in Munich, organise reading groups, get Faculty support for research trips or conferences etc.
"And there is always more happening outside of the Faculty and at the University at large (especially during term time!) – numerous seminars, lectures, performances etc. Cambridge is an even more vibrant student town than I had anticipated and I’m thoroughly enjoying being part of it!"
"I didn't take the direct route through to the PhD - I worked for a few years in software development, websites and marketing after taking my BA here at Cambridge. But I never quite got Classics out of my system, so I decided to do a PhD. (One final degree - promise!) I came back to Cambridge so I could work with Malcolm Schofield who is Professor of Ancient Philosophy here.
"My PhD topic is situated at the intersection of a number of disciplines, which makes Cambridge a great place to be doing my research. For instance, the Classics Faculty hosts a weekly Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar [GIS] at which we present our research to our fellow-students. The graduate community in the Faculty is large and it's incredibly helpful to receive input on work in progress from people working in so many different areas of Classics. The GIS is also a friendly and supportive environment in which to be initiated into the art of giving conference papers!"
"Having done my first degree in Germany, where the different sub-disciplines of Classics are scattered over a range of departments, I found the integration of the full range of Classical studies under one roof which the Faculty of Classics here in Cambridge is offering very stimulating. The availability of generous travel grants greatly facilitated visits to conferences and research trips. The Cambridge-Munich Exchange was a fantastic opportunity for me not only to get a glimpse into a different academic culture with an important influence on Classical scholarship past and present, but also to form lasting friendships - in both countries."