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Part IB

Overview

Part IB provides the opportunity for you to begin to choose your own path of study. The schedule of prescribed texts is designed to allow a wide individual choice from works within and outside the traditional canon, allowing for thematic or comparative study. And besides continuing your work on language and literature, you continue with two of the main classical sub-disciplines that you selected in the Easter Term of Part 1A for further exploration from the four on offer

At the end of the year you will take exams – Part IB of the Classical Tripos:

  • This examination includes translation exercises. These are included because the aim of developing your confidence and fluency in reading texts in Greek and Latin is one of the Faculty’s highest priorities, and the skills learned in producing different styles of translation are rewarding and valuable in themselves. You are required to take one paper in each language containing passages for both prepared and unseen translation.
  • There are also six papers on various subjects containing comment and essay questions. You are required to take the papers on Greek and Latin literature. In addition, you choose two of the four papers on other subjects: history, philosophy, art and archaeology, and linguistics. Work on these papers will form a substantial part of your supervision programme, which together with lectures will help you develop your command of the relevant primary materials and interpretative methods, as well as your abilities in controlling information and argument. It should also help you prepare for your choice of Part II options.
  • If you choose to take up or continue writing compositions, in prose or verse, there is an optional paper in each language. You will take these at the beginning of the Summer Term so that you are not overloaded when the other papers start in June. Prose composition can take the form of translating an author like Plato or Cicero from a standard translation back into the original language, or of rendering into an ancient language a piece of English prose. In either case, you can find this a creative part of your work as well as a help in learning and learning to appreciate Greek and Latin.

Candidates who are successful in Part IB are awarded honours. The precise class depends, of course, on their marks in the various papers. However, the examiners do not simply take an average mark, and award a class on that basis.

In particular:

  • your marks in the composition papers, if you take them, will never lead to your getting a class below that indicated by the rest of your marks, but may (if sufficiently good) lead to your getting a higher one.
  • if you are deemed to have failed overall in one of the languages, you may fall below the class suggested by your marks on other papers; in some circumstances this could lead to your failing Part IB as a whole, even if you get passing marks in most of your papers.

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