There is no prescriptive checklist for identifying a potential Classics major. But if you love language, literature,history, archaeology, philosophy, art, architecture, ethics, politics, law,religion, rhetoric, mythology, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, gender studies, urban studies, and just about anything else, Classics has something to offer you. Classics is an interdisciplinary field, so nearly everyone can find a subject of interest. Our department offers courses in the ancient languages and the ancient cultures, but our majors do require knowledge of one or both of the ancient languages. Latin and Greek provide the bases for about 80% of English, and learning to read them will train you to think carefully and precisely. You will read some of the greatest literature ever written, and study two of the cultures that stand as the foundation of so much of our own. You will also learn to articulate yourself, both in speech and in writing, through coursework, class discussion, and a senior thesis. If this sounds appealing to you, then you just may be a Classics major in the making.
The UNC Asheville Classics Department offers five concentrations: Greek, Latin, Greek and Latin, Classical Studies, and Latin with Teacher Licensure. We also offer a classics minor. All programs draw on a common core of material, but their emphases are different, and all aim to give the student as complete a background in Greco-Roman culture as possible. Strong emphasis is placed both on acquiring the linguistic skills necessary to be able to read the ancient texts in their original languages and on gaining an understanding of the cultures in which Western culture is firmly rooted. A Classics degree is an excellent general intellectual training, and does not limit the student to any one future career.
Declaration of Classics Major or Minor
If you are considering a major in classics, please identify yourself to the faculty: we want to meet you and tell you about our program. When you begin UNC Asheville, your advisor will be the professor of the introductory colloquium class that you choose. The faculty in the Classics Department offer one or two colloquia each fall, and you may consider those courses. If you choose other colloquia, let your advisor know of your interest in Classics. We recommend that you begin with the appropriate level of Latin or Greek as soon in your career as you can—preferably in your first semester. Latin and Greek fulfill the core language requirement (as does Hebrew, though it is not an integral part of the major as such) and you will meet both faculty and other students in these classes.
Declaring a major or minor in classics requires the student to complete a Declaration of Major or Minor form that must be signed by the department chair. Before declaring, students must satisfy the LANG 120 requirement.
Language Placement Tests & AP Credit
Language Placement Tests
Language placement tests are offered during summer orientation sessions, at the beginning of each semester, and by arrangement with the Department Chair if no other time is possible. The Classics Department offers a placement test for Latin, and we strongly encourage you to take it so that we can direct you to the level appropriate to you. We encourage you to take the highest level of Latin that you can comfortably take. Even though it may be tempting to “review” introductory material, you will benefit more from beginning at a level that is challenging to you. The placement test does not award course credit: if you place into Intermediate Latin, for example, you do not receive credit hours for Latin I and II. But you will have demonstrated proficiency in Latin I and II and therefore place out of the core language requirement. So the placement test is important:don’t avoid it.
UNC Asheville does award academic credit of 3 semester hours to students who receive scores of 3,4 or 5 on Advanced Placement tests offered by the College Board. For those who take a Latin AP exam, the schedule is listed below. If you score a 4, for example, on one of the Latin AP exams, you will receive 3 hours of credit for CLAS 212 (Intermediate Latin) and you can enroll in a 300-level Latin course.
Review the course requirements in the UNC Asheville Course Catalog for each of the classics concentrations and classics minor.
Classics courses at the 100 level include beginning Greek, Hebrew and Latin. These courses are open to all students and can be used to meet the Foreign Language requirement in the General Education curriculum. The Classics department also offers new students the opportunity to take LSIC freshman colloquium courses. Classics courses at the 200 level include intermediate Greek and Latin, and a classical civilization course on Mythology. Classics courses above the 200 level include a wide range of classical civilization courses and advanced Greek and Latin courses, in which students read classical texts in the original language. We often offer a LSIC 379 course for transfer students. Students can also obtain credit for independent reading and undergraduate research under the supervision of a faculty member. Classics majors take competency exams and write a thesis in their senior year.
Required Reading for Students in 200-400 level courses
Students develop critical thinking and writing skills in the upper level classical civilization and Greek and Latin language courses. To help students get the most benefit from these courses, the department requires that students read the guidelines on writing papers in Classics courses that the department makes available as needed.
Because Classics does not require an exorbitant number of hours for its major concentrations, a major in Classics can be combined with several other departmental majors quite easily, including Philosophy, Language and Literature, History, Modern Languages, and many others. Some majors, however, require many more hours than Classics, and if you are interested in a double major in Biology and Classics, for example, your schedule will allow few if any electives, and you will need to plan very carefully and well in advance. You will also need to consider the possibility of two senior theses or a thesis and a project, if you choose another major that requires one. It is certainly possible to write two theses or to complete a thesis and a project, but it will be wise to choose early and plan well.
Students begin preparations for their final year of study during the junior year. No later than the spring semester of the junior year, students decide on a topic for their senior thesis, and write a first draft of a prospectus for the faculty to consider. The topic is often an expansion of a paper written for a class, or an extension of an undergraduate research project. A guide to the senior thesis is required reading for all majors, and is made available through the Classics department at the appropriate time.
Competency Exams and Orals
Near the end of their last semester, majors demonstrate their competency in Greek and/or Latin through 4 hours of written exams. Majors with concentration in Classical Studies take one translation exam in either Greek or Latin. Majors with concentrations in Greek take three exams on Greek texts; those concentrating in Latin, on three Latin texts; and those concentrating in Greek and Latin translate three texts from Greek and Latin authors. If possible, passages should represent both prose and poetry. Dictionaries are permitted, though a Homeric dictionary is not allowed for Homer exams. Translation passages come from the courses that majors have taken. Several weeks before the exams, majors will be asked to turn in the list of the courses they have taken in the respective languages to the department chair, indicating their preferences, if any. Majors may also request an unseen passage of the department’s choice. All competency exams will be given on the same day, if possible. Exams will be graded quickly so that those needing to retake one or more exams may be notified very soon.
Major concentrations in Greek, Latin, and Greek and Latin also take a one hour essay exam on some aspect of Classical culture. Majors in Classical Studies take three essay exams. The subjects for these essay exams are derived from the work students have done in classes and from the readings from the reading list. Majors will be asked to submit 4 or 5 subject areas about which they would like to answer questions, and the faculty will take these into account.
Majors also have a one-hour oral examination on the content of the thesis completed for CLAS 495, and more broadly on the literature, history and culture of the ancient world. The broader questions will be based on student readings of the reading list and in courses over the course of the major and majors and shaped by the subject areas submitted by each student.
Departmental Distinction and Honors
The Classics Department can recognize its graduates with an award of departmental distinction. Distinction is based on the following criteria:
- A 3.5 minimum GPA in the major
- Performance over the student’s entire career will be taken into account when we make our recommendations for awarding departmental distinction, and a student judged worthy of departmental distinction will have consistently have contributed well in oral class work and produced articulate and well-researched written work that reveals a clear and sophisticated understanding of the material under discussion. Since the Senior Thesis is the culmination of your studies here, a Senior Thesis that conforms to these specifications is a sine qua non of being awarded Departmental Distinction. We may also designate some theses as Theses of Distinction, but this in itself does not guarantee Departmental Distinction if, in the opinion of the majority of the department, general performance does not warrant it.
Evidence of enthusiasm and talent which goes beyond taking the bare minimum of courses for the major (though student circumstances will be taken into account in determining eligibility on this criterion). Such evidence may include:
- the successful accomplishment of extra electives in Classics.
- presentation of a project of undergraduate research outside the department (e.g. at NCUR, UNC Asheville’s Symposia or some other conference).
- entry to graduate school in Classics (or potential for such, as determined by the department) or some other academic award, such as a Fulbright scholarship.
Attendance & Plagiarism Policies
Faculty members in the Classics Department recognize that unexpected occasions may arise when a student must be absent from class. Specific absence policies will be developed by each faculty member and stated in course syllabi, but in general you should expect the following policy:
- Three absences will be allowed in Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes.
- Two absences will be allowed in Tuesday-Thursday classes.
- One absence only will be permitted for classes that meet once a week.
Students remain responsible for all material covered in missed classes, including reading assignments, announcements and changes of schedules. Should any further unexcused absences occur, however, the instructor has the option of lowering the final course grade by some percentage. Failure to attend class in a responsible and committed manner may thus be grounds for failure in the course.
Students must abide by the Academic Honesty policies found in the Student Handbook.