Why I decided to study Classics (from scratch) at Roehampton – by Rebecca Dillon

I started my university experience in September 2015, and recently graduated in June 2018 with a first class honours in Classical Civilisation, and the Classical Civilisation award for contribution to the course. My university degree has inspired me for my future, and I am now continuing my studies as an MRes student in Classical Research still at Roehampton. I chose to stay on because of the support I have received from staff throughout my undergraduate degree was the reason I was inspired to continue, and I knew that I would be able to write a 30,000 word project with their support.

When I was in college, I really enjoyed my history classes but I seemed to struggle a little learning about Nazi Germany and other similar periods. I think it might have been because although I love learning about the past, my heart wasn’t in the right place with modern history. I didn’t get the urge to ask questions or to find out more than what I was told by my teacher that I have come to do with classics. So when it was time to look at university courses, I thought about looking into Ancient history instead, as I was interested in Pompeii, and the ‘Percy Jackson’ series by Rick Riordan. My Religious Studies teacher happened to suggest Roehampton University to me as a possible option, and my mum came across Classical Civilisation while looking into the possible courses I could take.

I decided to go to an open day, where Roehampton put an emphasis on how I didn’t need any background knowledge to start this degree as the first year would be accommodated to students of different levels. Despite this, when I first started I was still really nervous to be surrounded by people who knew so much more than me. Instead of this putting me off, I felt the need to push through, and the friends I had made on my course helped me during my coursework when I was too nervous to go to the lecturers.
I think the benefit of starting university with no prior knowledge in classics stems from the pure interest by the student. I had no knowledge but was really interested, so I found myself looking everywhere and drinking in all of the information about the Greeks and Romans. The university teaching process also works well with no knowledge as you are not spoon fed all of the information, so when a lecturer states something, you have more questions in which you can develop within essays. Why did that author feel the need to write about that period? Why did the ancient Greeks not view this the way we do now, or differently to Romans? I believe that the innocence of the degree helped me build my essays as I did not take certain facts for granted, thus would reference better, and I would expand on my evidence more naturally.

Rebecca Dillon dillonr1@roehampton.ac.uk

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