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Playing your part and keeping it classic

For Classics alumna Katharine Broderick (BA Classical Civilisation, 2021, MA by Research Classics and Ancient History, 2022), 2022 started and ended on a high. From having successfully produced Bacchae for the Warwick Ancient Drama Festival earlier in January to submitting the final assignment for her Master's degree, Katharine reflects on her time at Warwick and the relevance of Ancient Greek plays in modern society.

Why Classics, and why Warwick?
It was nearly neither Warwick nor Classics! I originally applied to study History and Politics at the University of York. I really liked the idea of a ‘city university experience’. Then during my A-Level in Classical Civilisation, we explored Ancient Theatre and I realised I wanted to continue learning about the topic. I applied to Warwick through Adjustment and the person I spoke to was really kind and helpful. I absolutely loved my first year living in Rootes, and the campus experience was actually part of what made my time at Warwick so enjoyable.

What are your fondest memories of your undergraduate days at Warwick?
Much of my undergraduate degree was spent during the coronavirus lockdowns. I stayed in Leamington Spa and met friends when rules allowed. As Social Secretary of the Warwick Classics Society during Covid-19, I ran a few online quizzes and other events, which were fun. I really enjoyed my first year, particularly watching Eurovision on the Piazza, getting involved with various societies, and meeting up with my friends before exams to have pizza and work together in The Oculus.

You’ve been involved in a few Ancient Drama Festival performances now – why do you enjoy these?
I like seeing how the performances come together, understanding the plays through their interpretation, and meeting students from other departments. Bacchae was the third Greek play I was involved in at Warwick. I was also in the cast of The Frogs and Oedipus Rex. Although I studied Bacchae as part of my undergraduate degree, creating and watching the production gave me a different perspective. Bacchae has a mix of tragedy and humour, with relevant social context for the modern day.

How would you describe the Classics department?
Warwick is a good place to study Classics. I was chair of the Student Staff Liaison Committee during my third and fourth years and helped with open days, so I got to know the department quite well. My experience was very positive, as the academics were all people you felt you could go and talk to. My advice would be to try and get to know people on your course and more widely – you never know who you’ll meet as a result.

How does a Classics degree prepare you for the future?
Classics feeds into so much of what we do without us realising it. Things we see on stage and in books often have origins in the ancient world. People were making similar mistakes and having similar problems 2,000 years ago to those we have today.

With other disciplines, you might pick your degree because it leads directly to the career you want. There’s something in Classics for everyone. Arts degrees have their selling points: you deal with difficult sources, write complex reports and essays, develop good communication skills, and think critically from the beginning. I took part in an assessment centre a few weeks back and I was the only applicant from an arts background; everyone else had studied finance or business. I like that my degree makes me stand out.

What advice would you give to someone considering a Master’s?
It sounds obvious, but just to make sure you think it through. I’m glad I did it, but it was really hard! Lots of people talk about ‘panic MAs’, and I do know a few people who started a Master’s and regretted it because they weren’t doing it for the right reasons. My personal tutor warned me how lonely a Master’s by research can be. Working on the play helped me with this and made me feel less isolated. Making friends with other research students is important too – there are dedicated areas on campus for research postgraduates, which can help with finding other students in your shoes.

Katherine has long red hair and is looking directly into the camera