Classical Civilizations

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Classical Civilizations is an interdisciplinary "area studies" major. It provides students with the opportunity to explore the rich diversity of classical antiquity in depth, in company with a relatively small cohort of undergraduates. While language study is an option, the major may be completed entirely in English.  This major serves as excellent preparation for many different careers including law, medicine, teaching, writing, and business, as well as for graduate study in fields such as Anthropology, Archaeology, History, and Art History.

Declaring the Major

To declare the major, meet with the Classics undergraduate advisor, who can help you create a course plan and complete the declaration. You may also want to review the Letters & Science advising site for a guide to declaring a major. For a detailed list of requirements, please see the Major Requirements tab.

Honors Program

Students who are declared majors in Classical Civilizations and who have a GPA (both general and departmental) of at least 3.6 are eligible for honors in Classical Civilizations. The honors program consists of a two-semester course sequence — CLASSIC H195A and CLASSIC H195B that is designed to support the writing of a thesis. This thesis, which will be evaluated by an honors committee of three members, may either build on work in a previous upper division course used in fulfillment of the Classical Civilizations major or may be a newly conceived project. It is due the Monday of the 13th week of the semester in which Classics H195B is taken.

Further details can be found online at Classics Undergraduate Honors. Please consult with a Classics undergraduate adviser to begin planning to participate in honors.

Minor Program

The minor in Classical Civilizations consists of five upper division courses in the Classics Department. Courses or seminars taught by Classics professors in other departments may also be accepted, in consultation with the Undergraduate Faculty Adviser. One of the five courses may be taken outside of the department on campus or abroad with the approval of an Undergraduate Faculty Adviser.

Other Major and Minor Programs Offered by the Department of Classics

Classical Languages (Major only)
Greek (Major and Minor)
Latin (Major and Minor)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit (except for courses taken in Spring 2020), other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements (except for courses taken in Spring 2020).

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Summary of Major Requirements

Lower Division: Two required courses8
Lower Division: One elective course4 -10
Classics 130 - One course4
Upper Division: Five elective Classics courses20
Pre-Modern Culture: One course4
Total Units40-46

Lower Division Required Courses

CLASSIC 10AIntroduction to Greek Civilization 14
or CLASSIC 17A Introduction to the Archaeology of the Greek World
CLASSIC 10BIntroduction to Roman Civilization 14
or CLASSIC 17B Introduction to the Archaeology of the Roman World

Lower Division Elective

Select one of the following:4-10
Introduction to Greek Civilization [4] q
Introduction to Roman Civilization [4] q
Introduction to the Archaeology of the Greek World [4] q
Introduction to the Archaeology of the Roman World [4] 1
The Classic Myths [4]
The Classic Myths [4]
Introduction to Greco-Roman Magic [4]
Epic Poetry: Homer and Vergil [4]
Greek Tragedy [4]
Greek Philosophy [4]
Freshman/Sophomore Seminar - Cleopatras [4]
Freshman/Sophomore Seminar - Greek and Roman Comedy [4]
Utopia, Dystopia [4]
Fresh/Soph Seminar - Travel and Transport in the Ancient World [4]
Roots of Western Civilization [5] 1
Latin and Greek in Antiquity and After [4]
Elementary Latin [4] 2
Elementary Latin [4] 2
The Latin Workshop [10] (Meets both lower division requirements) 2
Elementary Greek [4] 2
Elementary Greek [4] 2
The Greek Workshop [10] (Meets both lower division requirements) 2
Total Units4-10

Classics 130 Requirement

Select one of the following:4
Topics in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture [4]
Epic and Saga [4]
The Origins of Rome [4]
Ancient Greek Political Thought [4]
The Roman Economy [4]
The Trojan War: History or Myth? [4]
The History of Hell: Eschatology in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures [4]
The Literature of Everyday Life [4]
Religion and Literature in the Greco-Roman World [4]
Classical Greek Rhetoric: Evolution or Revolution? [4]
Graeco-Roman Egypt: Society and Economy [4]
Music and Difference in Ancient Greece [4]
Introduction to Greco-Roman Magic [4]
Slavery and Literature in the Greco-Roman World [4]
Ancient Portraiture & Biography [4]
Ancient Times: Myth, History, Measurement [4]
Total Units4

Classics Elective Requirement

Select five of the following:20-30
Ancient Religion [4]
Classical Poetics [4]
Topics in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture [4] 1
Epic and Saga [4] 1
The Origins of Rome [4] 1
Ancient Greek Political Thought [4] 1
The Roman Economy [4] 1
The Trojan War: History or Myth? [4] 1
The History of Hell: Eschatology in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures [4] 1
The Literature of Everyday Life [4] 1
Religion and Literature in the Greco-Roman World [4] 1
Classical Greek Rhetoric: Evolution or Revolution? [4] 1
Graeco-Roman Egypt: Society and Economy [4] 1
Music and Difference in Ancient Greece [4] 1
Introduction to Greco-Roman Magic [4] 1
Slavery and Literature in the Greco-Roman World [4] 1
Ancient Portraiture & Biography [4] 1
Ancient Times: Myth, History, Measurement [4] 1
Gender, Sexuality, and Culture in the Ancient World [4]
Topics in Greek Philosophy [4]
Classical Archaeology: Greek Architecture [4]
Art and Archaeology of the Aegean Bronze Age [4]
Archaeological Field School in Nemea, Greece [4]
Archaeological Field School in Mycenae, Greece [4]
Classical Archaeology: Greek Vase Painting [4]
Classical Archaeology: Roman Art and Architecture [4]
Topography and Monuments: Athens [4]
Topography and Monuments: Pompeii and Herculaneum [4]
Topography and Monuments: Roman Wall Painting [4]
Pictorial Representation in the Roman World [4]
Topography and Monuments: Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt [4]
Ancient Athletics [4]
Elementary Greek
and Elementary Greek 2
The Greek Workshop [10] 2
Any upper division courses in Greek
Elementary Latin
and Elementary Latin 2
The Latin Workshop [10] 2
Any upper division courses in Latin
Total Units20-30

Pre-Modern Culture Requirement

One course, either lower or upper division, taken outside the department and involving a pre-modern culture other than Greco-Roman (though the course can include an overlapping culture, e.g., Ancient Egypt).  Many departments offer courses that can fulfill this requirement (e.g., English, History, History of Art, South & South-East Asian Studies).

The faculty advisor will consult with the student to select a course  to meet the Pre-Modern Culture Requirement. The list below includes examples of accepted courses. There are many options available on campus and transfer courses may accepted based on approval of a course syllabus and reading list.

These courses are listed for the purposes of example:4
Introduction to Archaeology [4]
Introduction to Archaeology [4]
Archaeology of the Americas: Archaeology of North America [4]
Archaeology of the Americas: Archaeology of Central America [4]
Archaeology of the Americas: World of Ancient Maya [4]
Archaeology of the Americas: California Archaeology [4]
Archaeology of the Americas: Archaeology of the American Southwest [4]
Old World Prehistory [4]
Old World Cultures: Mediterranean Archaeology [4]
Pacific Cultures: Archaeology of the South Pacific [4]
Archaeology of East Asia [4]
Buddhism on the Silk Road [4]
Tantric Traditions of Asia [4]
The World of the Celts [4]
Medieval Celtic Culture [4]
Celtic Mythology and Oral Tradition [4]
Archaeology of East Asia [4]
History of China: Origins to the Mongol Conquest [4]
The Rise of Islamic Civilization, 600-1200 [4]
Precolonial Africa [4]
Arts of China [4]
The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia: 3500-1000 BCE [4]
The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia: 1000-330 BCE [4]
Early Chinese Art, Part I [4]
Sacred Arts in China [4]
South Asian Art: Ancient [4]
Introduction to Near Eastern Art and Archaeology [4]
Introduction to Ancient Egypt [4]
Ancient Babylonian Legends and Myths [4]
Women and Gender in Ancient Egypt [4]
Course Not Available [4]
Religion of Ancient Egypt [3]
Babylonian Religion [3]
Ancient Mesopotamian Documents and Literature [3]
Course Not Available [4]
Course Not Available [4]
Mesopotamian History [3]
Digital Humanities and Egyptology [4]
Gilgamesh: King, Hero, and God [4]
Early Egypt: From Village to Pyramid [4]
The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia: 3500-1000 BCE [4]
Mesopotamian Archaeology [4]
Levantine Archaeology [4]
Silk Road Art and Archaeology [3]
Art and Archaeology of Ancient Syria [4]
Minoan and Mycenaean Art [4]
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Turkey [4]
Literature and History in the Hebrew Bible [4]
Heroic Legends of the North [4]
Old Norse Literature [4]
Scandinavian Myth and Religion [4]
Hindu Mythology [4]
India's Great Epics [4]
Total Units4

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit

    (except for courses taken in Spring 2020).

  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  4. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  5. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  6. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Upper Division
Five upper division courses in the Classics Department. Courses or seminars taught by Classics professors in other departments may also be accepted, in consultation with the Undergraduate Faculty Advisor. One of the five courses may be taken outside of the department on campus or abroad with the approval of the Undergraduate Faculty Advisor.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Summary of Modifications

  1. L&S College Requirements: Reading & Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Language, which typically must be satisfied with a letter grade, can be satisfied with a Passed (P) grade during Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 if a student elects to take the course for P/NP. Note: This does not include Entry Level Writing (College Writing R1A). 

  2. Requirements within L&S majors and minors can be satisfied with Passed (P) grades during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. This includes prerequisites for majors. Contact your intended or declared major/minor adviser for more details.

  3. Departments may create alternative methods for admitting students into their majors. 

  4. L&S students will not be placed on academic probation automatically for taking all of their courses P/NP during Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. 

Student Learning Goals


The learning goals should be understood in the context of the mission statement of the Department of Classics. The first two components of that statement are especially relevant to undergraduate teaching and are repeated here:

  • To give students across the University access to the literature, history, archaeology, mythology and philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman world through an array of undergraduate courses on classical culture in translation. These courses introduce students to texts, artifacts, and ideas that are worth studying both in their own right and as abidingly influential elements in the imagination and history of later cultures. Such study deepens students' understanding of present-day issues by inculcating a sense of historical perspective that takes account of both the differences and the continuities between contemporary and ancient cultures.
  • To enable undergraduates to immerse themselves in the language and culture of ancient Greece and Rome through its majors in Greek, Latin, and Classical Civilizations. These majors equip students with knowledge and analytical skills that can be applied in many areas (e.g., law, politics, business, biosciences, computer science and media) as well as providing essential preparation for graduate study in classics, comparative literature, philosophy, and other fields.

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Acquire a basic understanding of ancient Greek and Latin texts (in translation) and/or material culture, including major monuments, sites, and works of art. 
  2. Demonstrate a more advanced knowledge of a particular concentration within classics (classical art and archaeology, or classical history and culture, or Greek language, or Latin language).
  3. Learn to identify and understand key events, institutions, personalities, places, and concepts of ancient Greek and Roman culture.
  4. Gain a critical awareness of continuities and differences between and within cultures and of ideologies of gender, group identity, social status, and political organization.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to interpret texts and material culture and to understand the implications of interpretive methods.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to synthesize a well-organized argument from textual or other evidence and to express it in formal English prose.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Classical Civilizations Major Map PDF.



Classical Civilizations

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Susanna Elm, Professor. History of the Later Roman Empire, pagan - Christian interactions, ancient medicine, slavery and the evolution of Christianity, leadership and empire, reception of antiquity.
Research Profile

Giovanni R. F. (John) Ferrari, Professor. Classics, ancient philosophy, Greek culture, ancient poetics and rhetoric.
Research Profile

+ Mark Griffith, Professor. Gender and sexuality, Greek literature and performance, Greek and Roman education, Greek tragedy and comedy, Hesiod and wisdom literature, ancient music.
Research Profile

Christopher Hallett, Professor. Classics, Roman art, visual culture, portraiture, Hellenistic art, Roman Asia Minor, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt.
Research Profile

Todd Hickey, Professor. Classics, papyrology, Greek, Egyptian, social and economic history, late antiquity.
Research Profile

+ Leslie V. Kurke, Professor. Classics, Greek literature and culture, archaic Greek poetry, Herodotus.
Research Profile

Duncan MacRae, Assistant Professor. Classics.
Research Profile

Sara Magrin, Associate Professor. Ancient epistemology and psychology, Plotinus.
Research Profile

Maria Mavroudi, Professor. Byzantine studies.
Research Profile

+ Kathleen Mccarthy, Professor. Classics, Roman literature and culture, slavery.
Research Profile

Trevor M. Murphy, Associate Professor. Ethnography, classics, Roman prose authors.
Research Profile

Ellen Oliensis, Professor. Latin Literature, Ovid.
Research Profile

Nikolaos Papazarkadas, Professor. Greek epigraphy, Greek history.
Research Profile

J. Theodore Pena, Professor. Roman archaeology, Roman and pre-Roman Italy, city of Rome, Pompeii, ancient economy, ceramic analysis, material culture studies.
Research Profile

James Porter, Professor. Classical Studies, philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, Nietzsche, Auerbach.
Research Profile

Dylan Paul Sailor, Professor. Rhetoric, classics, Greek literature, Latin Literature, ancient Greek, Latin, historiography, ancient Rome, ancient Greece.
Research Profile

Kim S. Shelton, Associate Professor. Ceramics, classical civilization and archaeology, Aegean prehistory, religion/mythology.
Research Profile

+ Andrew F. Stewart, Professor Emeritus. Archaeology, classics, Greek sculpture, ancient art and architecture, the Hellenistic east after Alexander, the Renaissance reception of antiquity.
Research Profile

Mario Telo, Professor. Greek literature, Roman drama, critical theory.
Research Profile

Affiliated Faculty

Timothy Clarke, Assistant Professor.
Research Profile

Klaus Corcilius, Associate Professor. Ancient philosophy.
Research Profile

+ Andrew Garrett, Professor Emeritus . Linguistics, English, California, language change, Indo-European languages, historical linguistics, northern California Indian languages, linguistic structure, typology, ancient Greek, Latin, Irish, Oceanic languages.
Research Profile

Kinch Hoekstra, Associate Professor. History of political, moral, and legal philosophy, ancient, renaissance, and early modern political thought.
Research Profile

Emily Mackil, Associate Professor. History.
Research Profile

Ramona Naddaff, Associate Professor. Rhetoric, aesthetics, theory of the novel, ancient Greek philosophy and literature, history of philosophy, contemporary French thought.
Research Profile

+ Carlos Norena, Associate Professor. History.

Martin Schwartz, Professor. Near Eastern studies, Iranian studies.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Anthony A. Long, Professor Emeritus . Professor of the Graduate School, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Classics and Irving G Stone Professor Emeritus of Literature, Affiliated Professor of Philosophy and Rhetoric: Classics, Greek literature, ancient philosophy.
Research Profile

Donald Mastronarde, Professor Emeritus. Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Melpomene Distinguished Professor of Classical Languages and Literature: classics, Greek literature, Greek drama, Greek textual transmission, Greek literary papyrology, Greek palaeography.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Classics

7233 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4218

Fax: 510-643-2959

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Ellen Oliensis

7221 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: (510) 642-9207

Classics Undergraduate Advisor

Cassandra Dunn

7228 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3672

Classics Undergraduate Faculty Advisor

Kim Shelton

7209 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: (510) 643-2959

Classics Undergraduate Faculty Advisor

Duncan MacRae

7213 Dwinelle Hall

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