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Classics Undergradiate Interview Questions at Balliol College (Oxford University)

  • Oxford Classics
  • Balliol College - Interviewers were Oliver Lyne, Osmind Murray, Rosalind Thomas, Kinch Hoekstra

Interview Questions

I was not given anything to read or prepare before my interviews. My first interview focused on literature and philosophy. My Greek set-text was the Illiad, and much of the conversation was focused in this text - I was asked my views on particular scenes, e.g. bk 9, and 24, and characters (both divine and mortal and the differences between these groups) e.g. Hector, Hera, Thetis etc.

They clearly wanted to see if a had a good grasp of the text both at a macro and micro level, so general themes (e.g. war, mortality, the human condition, morality, tragedy etc) were discussed as well as very specific questions - e.g. asking me to name and analysis an analogy in the text that I could remember - I couldn’t remember any, completely froze, and had to move on, but it didn’t matter in the end fortunately. I was lucky because the interviewers’ approach was friendly and gentle, unlike many other people’s experiences for the same subject at different colleges, yet I still managed to freeze at one point. I don’t feel that I answered any of the questions particularly outstandingly, and I think the best preparation one can do is to know one’s set text very well (and to have read the rest of the work thoroughly) and have previously discussed the big themes of the work so you are comfortable talking about them.

Advice for Future Candidates

Balliol in particular is interested in linguistic skills, and the main reason I feel I was accepted is because I had really focused on my language skills and did very well in our language tests

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