What can I do after studying Classics?

Some Classics students have gone on to the following careers!

  • TV presenter (Ryan Tubridy)
  • Children's author (J. K. Rowling)
  • Nobel Prize winning novelist (Toni Morrison)
  • Media mogul (Ted Turner, founder of CNN)
  • Rock musician (Chris Martin, Coldplay)

(However, here are some more serious suggestions below.)

Your BA degree

It is important to remember that, whatever your subject choices, your qualification on graduation will be a Bachelor of Arts degree.

The BA degree has long been recognised as a mark of attainment in general education, meaning that for most people it does not provide training for a specific job. Instead, a good result in your degree indicates to employers that you have developed the following personal competencies:

  • Absorb and analyze complex information
  • Perform focused research on complex issues
  • Communicate with clarity, accuracy and polish 
  • Original thinking

It also demonstrates the following important personal attributes:

  • Capacity for hard work
  • Motivation
  • Ability to organise, prioritise and work independently
  • Ability to learn

All of these soft skills are very important to employers (according to a recent LinkedIn study).

Within your degree, Classics is particularly good for developing the following competencies:

  • Flexibility. Because you can study history, literature, theatre, mythology, art, archaeology, languages and linguistics as part of your Classics education, you will develop confidence in undertaking many different kinds of tasks. It is the particular strength of Classicists that we learn to interpret the world through many different perspectives.
  • Linguistic competence. If you study Latin or Greek, you will develop very strong general linguistic skills, including a much better understanding of English vocabulary (about 70% of which is derived from Latin), English grammar (easy after studying ancient languages!), and the mechanics of how language works. You will find that as a result you will develop both your own communication power and your ability to analyse the spoken and written word.

Read our student testimonials on the skills students themselves felt they acquired from the study of Classics.

Learning about yourself

The most difficult question most people face is not "What can I get with my degree?" but "What do I want to do for my career?".

For those who are still undecided about their career direction, an Arts degree is a way to continue your general education, to obtain a good qualification and especially to learn more about your career interests:

  • Are you a creative person? Do you enjoy expressing yourself and coming up with new ideas?
  • Are a natural researcher? Are you happiest looking for answers to large and complicated problems?
  • Are you linguistically gifted? Do you enjoy using language and languages?
  • Do you like to work on your own or in collaboration as part of a group?
  • Do you like working with clear guidelines or prefer lots of flexibility?

Because Classics offers so much variety, it is especially good as a way to explore these different attributes.

Our BA and MA graduates generally go on to varied careers, including in publishing, writing, marketing, law, heritage management and other areas, either after finding entry-level positions and working their way up or after returning to college for more specialised postgraduate training.

Classics and teaching

Many Arts students at least consider the possibility of a career in teaching, even if most do not ultimately pursue this after graduation.

If you are interested in teaching, you should keep in mind that while Classics, Classical Studies, Latin and Ancient Greek are all subjects on the second-level curriculum, they are not core subjects in most Irish schools.

However, Classics may be valuable for your teaching profile in other ways. In particular, studying an ancient or medieval civilisation is currently a requirement on the Junior Cycle History curriculum. And of course, having a knowledge of Classical backgrounds will enrich your knowledge of other subjects (particularly English literature, from Shakespeare to Wilde, Joyce and Heaney), and so Classics can complement your teaching portfolio, even if you take it in First Year only.

Further reading

John Hannon of the Career Development Centre discusses careers with an Arts degree: