Short course

Via Prima Latin

Start date
6 Weeks
Time commitment
6 hours per week
£350 for 6 weeks
Postgraduate Short-Course (CPD)
Individual assignment

Via Prima means ‘first road’. This six-week course will give you a basic grounding in Latin, the language of the ancient Romans and one of the building-blocks of modern European languages and culture.

It is intended for complete beginners. You do not need to have studied a language before, or to have any kind of academic background in classical civilisation, or really any kind of academic background at all. All we want from you is six hours a week and the willingness to give it a go.

Via Prima was developed for the University of Birmingham by Ruth Taylor-Briggs, a specialist Latin language instructor. It will take you through the opening chapters of Henry Cullen and John Taylor’s Latin to GCSE (2016), an acclaimed modern textbook that is widely used in schools (you will need a copy for your personal use).

Beginning with how Latin was written and pronounced, how its sentences communicate their meaning through ‘inflection’, and some basic terms for talking about grammar and syntax, Via Prima will get you working actively with Latin from the start. You will learn about the most common kinds of noun (‘declensions’) and verb (‘conjugations’), and start to think critically about translation choices. Every week you will watch explanatory videos that get you ready to work with Latin to GCSE yourself and submit written exercises for feedback. There will also be a regularly timetabled discussion hour with the module tutor.

On successful completion of Via Prima you will have a confident understanding of the basics of Latin language and a solid grounding to take your study further.

Why study this course?

  • An introduction to the study of Latin – the language at the heart of historic European culture, and the basis of many modern languages including parts of English.
  • Designed for Birmingham by an experienced specialist in Latin learning.
  • Based around the affordable and acclaimed modern textbook, Latin to GCSE (2016).
  • Six weeks of blended learning, using materials developed specifically for this course.
  • Regular contact with a Birmingham academic and ancient languages expert.


  • £350 for the six-week course.


  • Via Prima was designed by Dr Ruth Taylor-Briggs, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham and a specialist in Latin language teaching. She is the author of Via Plana: Graduated Readings in Advanced Latin (2010).
  • Via Prima is taught in 2023-4 by Dr Gideon Nisbet, a Reader in Classics at the University of Birmingham and the translator for OUP World’s Classics of Martial: Select Epigrams (2015) and Epigrams from the Greek Anthology (2020).

How to apply:

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for Via Prima You will create an account with the University application system and complete a short form to apply.  The deadline for applications is Sunday 01 October. 

Applications are now closed. Information about the next intake will be available in due course. Please register your interest to receive updates. 

There are no specific academic entry requirements for this short course, but you will need to be age 18 or older. 

Deadline for applications: Sunday 1 October 2023. Applications are now closed. Information about the next intake will be available in due course. Please register your interest to receive updates. 

Week 1

  • The basics of learning a language
  • How Latin was written and pronounced
  • How it feeds into later European languages
  • How it communicates meaning as an inflected language
  • Your first verb and noun forms

Week 2

  • The irregular verb ‘to be’
  • Introducing prepositions
  • The genitive, dative, and ablative cases
  • Second declension nouns and grammatical gender
  • Coping with ambiguity as we translate

Week 3

  • Revising and learning noun forms: the first and second declensions
  • Using mnemonics as a learning aid
  • The importance of knowing endings
  • Conjugations and tenses; the present tense
  • The infinitive of a verb and its ‘principal parts’

Week 4

  • Vocabulary revision
  • The imperfect tense
  • The irregular verb ‘to be able’

Week 5

  • Revising first and second declension nouns
  • Introducing adjectives
  • The imperative and the vocative
  • Meeting Virgil’s Aeneid

Week 6

  • Vocabulary revision
  • The perfect tense, and a new principal part
  • Taking your Latin study further


A Certificate of Participation will be awarded to participants who contribute constructively to weekly discussions and exercises/assignments for the duration of the course.

The skills you will gain

Equip students with the essentials of accidence and syntax in classical Latin

Enable students to deploy a basic vocabulary to form simple sentences

Provide students with a foundation for further study towards GCSE or equivalent level