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Overview

During Part IB you need to make decisions about the subjects which you want to study in the following year for Part II. Most students come back from the Easter vacation of their second year with at least preliminary ideas about their choices. In the first week of the Easter Full Term the Faculty arranges advisory sessions for all Part II options, and expects you to have submitted through your Director of Studies a provisional choice of options within 10 days or so after that. The lecture timetable for the following year is then arranged in such a way as to avoid clashes between students’ nominated options among Classical Tripos papers.

Within Classics Part II, you can choose to specialise within one discipline or you may spread yourself out more widely, or indeed very widely, across several.

There is also a large range of papers - the O papers - offered by other faculties from which you can choose one. Please note that the Faculty has no control over the timing of O papers, and the absence of clashes with papers run by the Classics faculty cannot be guaranteed.

You can also substitute for one paper a thesis of your own devising on any subject within the field of Classics. Here you will find a full statement of the relevant regulations for the thesis.

All papers in the examination carry equal weight, and a thesis, if you offer one, carries the same weight as a paper. You should therefore ordinarily expect to divide your time more or less equally between your four papers, or your three papers and thesis. The Faculty advises that for each of the four this means a norm of five supervisions for which substantial pieces of written work are prepared. For some of the O papers, however, a different number of supervisions is recommended; for details, you should consult your Director of Studies, or the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Candidates may have to sit two exams on the same day.

Part II offers you the opportunity to explore in depth whatever subjects you take on and to engage with them critically. Your supervisors will expect a greater range of reading both in classical texts and in the modern scholarly literature, and they will be hoping for more ambitious essay work. If you have not already penetrated the collections of the University Library, now is the time to do so. It will be important to prepare carefully for the relatively few Faculty lectures and classes provided for the options you have chosen, to be able to contribute to discussion as well as to derive maximum benefit yourself. In general, Part II gives you the chance to take responsibility for your own learning with the support of those teaching you.

Two-year Part II

Two-year Part II candidates do "Prelims to Part II" in the first year of their Part II. For this, they sit two papers from among the papers for Part II of the Classical Tripos, of which not more than one may be taken from the Schedule of Optional Papers. The papers are marked but the marks are not taken into account the following year when candidates are classed. The Preliminary Examinations are not deemed Honours Examinations of the University. The examinations are for the purpose of testing the progress of honours students and their fitness for honours work.

In their second year candidates sit 5 papers (or 4 papers and a thesis). It is common for them to sit again in their second year the papers sat in their first year, simply to cut down on the workload.

Candidates taking Part II in two years are often new to Cambridge and spreading the load over a longer period is helpful to them.

If you are starting a two-year Part II, you should note that some courses offered may change in 2024–25. Any such changes are indicated at the end of each course description. You should check this information carefully and discuss it with your Director of Studies when deciding which courses you wish to take over the two years.

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