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MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Intensive Latin 1

Unit code CAHE70171
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics & Ancient History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course is designed for students with no previous knowledge of Latin. Those who have studied Latin up to and including GCSE (or equivalent), however, may take it as beginners; those who have AS Level (or equivalent) in Latin should audit this course and enrol in CLAH 70182 Intensive Latin 2  for credit.

This MA version of the course is Enhanced to FHEQ Level 5 (vs the FHEQ Level 4 of its UG equivalent) by requiring students to read additional sections of prepared text: this will require them to acquire additional knowledge (particularly of vocabulary) and to demonstrate enhanced, independent study skills.  Students taking this version of the unit will sit a distinct version of the final assessment for the unit, which will test their acquisition of this additional knowledge and skills.


No pre-requisites however this course may not be taken for credit by candidates who have already achieved a qualification in Greek which is higher than GCSE (or equivalent).

No co-requisites however students on the MA in Classics & Ancient History are expected to register in addition for CLAH70182 (Intensive Latin 2).


To introduce students to the basic elements of the Latin language, and to enable them to develop their skills in independent reading of Latin texts, at an appropriate level.


This course unit follows the Cambridge University Press intensive Latin course designed for adult beginners, entitled Reading Latin. We cover about half the material within this course unit (the second half is covered in CLAH70182). The course book encourages reading of continuous texts and integrates the learning of Classical Latin with an appreciation of the influence of the Latin language upon English and European culture from Antiquity to the present. The richly illustrated text consists at the start of carefully graded adaptations from original Classical Latin texts. The adaptations are gradually phased out until unadultered Latin prose and verse can be read. The Grammar, Vocabulary and Exercises volume supplies a range of reinforcing exercises for each section, including translation from English into Latin, which we emphasise as an effective and particularly rewarding method of learning the language. At the end of each section, a selection of Latin epigrams, mottoes, quotations, everyday Latin, word-derivations, examples of mediaeval Latin and discussions of the influence of Latin upon English illustrate the language's impact on Western culture.

Teaching and learning methods

·         2 x 1 hour lectures per week;

·         2 x 1 hour seminars per week;

·         1 dedicated consultation hour per week;

·         Blackboard: course material, handouts and other supporting materials.


Also on Blackboard is a self-training programme, which consists of a large bank of questions, graded by level, on vocabulary, morphology, and syntax, closely tied to the course textbook. Students are expected to make extensive use of these materials, in order to help them to learn the large amount of new material that they will meet during the course. The programme gives immediate feedback, including scores, correct answers, and, in the case of more complex questions, explanations.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will have developed the following abilities:
• knowledge and understanding of the basic workings of a highly-inflected language, Classical Latin;
• mastery of (roughly half of) the basic Latin forms and constructions (accidence and syntax), together with a vocabulary of several hundred words, and a developing ability to use them both actively and passively;
• the ability to read a simple Latin text, seen or unseen, to an enhanced degree of fluency and accuracy.

Intellectual skills

 By the end of this course students will have developed the following abilities:

  • subject-specific skills, including an incipient ability to read, understand, translate and write Latin;
  • the ability to work independently in translating extended passages of Classical Latin.
  • an insight into the nature of the differences between English and Classical Latin.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 By the end of this course students will have:

  • an increased awareness of the structures and resources of the English language;
  • a developed ability to analyse and to describe linguistic forms and structures;
  • an increased knowledge and understanding of Latin-derived English vocabulary.
  • the ability to work independently in acquiring and mastering a large, complex body of new material.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Oral communication
Written communication

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit

Class test (week 5)

50 minutes


Class test (week 11)

50 minutes



2 hours



Feedback methods

• Weekly feedback on formative homework exercises;
• Written feedback on formative and summative assessment (see above); all feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assignments.
• Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

·         PV Jones and KC Sidwell, Reading Latin, 2nd edition, Cambridge 2016

Before the beginning of the course, students should acquire copies of the two parts: Text and Vocabulary (9781107618701) and Grammar and Exercises (9781107632264). Please be aware that you are required to buy the new second edition of this textbook (available from August 2016); you should NOT buy copies of the older edition, which has been substantially revised. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 95

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Thomas Phillips Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This is a deliberately intensive introduction to Classical Latin, designed for students with no experience of the language but with good aptitude for language-learning. The course-unit is delivered via two plenary sessions and two related small-groups seminars. The classes encourage intensive but informal interaction with both the teacher and other students.


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