skip to content

Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)

Ancient Greece

If you thought classics study was a relic of the past, think again. Inside ICE takes a closer look at ICE’s digitally delivered Undergraduate Certificate in Classical Studies and notes the subject’s deep resonance for the world we live in today. 

Digging into the past to make sense of the present  

ICE’s Undergraduate Certificate in Classical Studies explores the greatest works of ancient Greek and Latin literature. Students delve into 1,800 years of history, ideas and writing and reveal the relevance these works still have for modern Western society.  

Through readings of Homer’s Iliad and some of the great tragedies and comedies of the Athenian stage, unit one of the course examines the intertwined roles of myth and storytelling.  

Unit two explores the character and works of Roman poet Virgil, focusing on his epic poem, the Aeneid, and a broader analysis of other epic masterpieces.  

The course concludes with an in-depth look at the origin and development of Athenian democracy – still widely considered the most legitimate form of state governance. This deep dive enables students to interrogate multiple sources to derive, analyse and form their own conclusions from the available data. 

Delivered remotely, the course is accessible for students in any location to study flexibly and on a part-time basis – opening up a whole new world of possibilities for learners of all backgrounds and with otherwise restrictive family or work commitments. 

“This course is a gateway for adult students to engage, perhaps for the first time, with the classical world and the richness of its history, literature and art. Opening the door to the classics allows us to draw on its stories and thinking to provide new insights into our complex and changing modern world,” explains ICE Director, Dr James Gazzard. 

A student’s classics odyssey 

Lucy had never read The Odyssey. Her undergraduate studies in history and archaeology in the 1990s steered well clear of classics, which was felt by many of her lecturers to be “too elite.” 

Helping her son through his GSCE in Classical Civilisation finally sparked an interest in the classical world, however, that led Lucy to the ICE Undergraduate Certificate in Classical Studies in 2021. 

“I found the course on Facebook, and I was immediately drawn to the chance to get to grips with Greek and Latin tragedy in a way that was rigorous and that integrated the kind of critical and creative text analysis that I wanted.” 

She wasn’t disappointed, she says. From the start, the course provided what she describes as “intellectual fireworks.” 

“From the moment we started, the experience was highly rewarding. Exploring these ancient texts and getting to ask questions and exchange ideas with such an interesting mix of people was so stimulating.” 

Coming out of the experience, Lucy says she has learned a “huge amount.” Not only that, she has gained the confidence to go further with her studies. 

“I’m no longer a beginner,” she laughs. “The course has taught me so much about critical analysis, thinking and having the confidence to speak out and talk openly about ideas that really inform everything – ideas that form the basis of politics, literature, architecture and democracy in the Western sphere. It was so fascinating and rich and totally exceeded my expectations.” So much so, that Lucy recently enrolled on a Master’s degree programme at the University of Hertfordshire.  

“I’m starting with folklore in my MA, which is another interest that I have. But I will definitely come back to classics. And who knows, maybe I’ll even start learning Greek and Latin next!” 

New bursary for teachers to discover classics 

ICE has teamed up with educational charity Classics for All to offer five bursaries to UK-based teachers and other education professionals in disadvantaged areas so that they can study the Undergraduate Certificate in Classical Studies. 

The bursaries are designed as a gateway to classics for teachers in state-funded settings, including schools, libraries, the NHS and prisons – helping to bring classics to life for pupils who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to learn about the compelling ideas, history and literature that underpin modern Western civilisation. 

Worth £2,500, the full bursaries will help education professionals in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country enrol in the one-year, part-time, online course, providing an accessible route for teachers with or without previous classics expertise to enrich their knowledge and bring classical inspiration into their classrooms. 

“These bursaries are a really great idea. If we enable teachers to gain high-level expertise in Classics, they will pass that expertise – and the excitement that comes with it – on to their pupils.”  
- Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge 

Learn more

Find out more about the Undergraduate Certificate in Classical Studies at ICE.

Find out more about bursaries at ICE. 

Find out more about Classics for All.

Contact Us

Do you have any questions? Contact us here »

Whilst you're there, make sure that you sign up to receive emails from ICE to be kept up-to-date with courses, events and other activities here at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education.

You can unsubscribe at any time. See our privacy notice for more information on how we take care of your data.