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Course of Study

This from Journal of the Proceedings of a Convention of Literary and Scientific Gentlemen 1830. Common Council Chamber City of New York 1830.

Dr. Coley, then read a communication on the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in Great Britain, setting forth in detail the courses pursued in those institutions from matriculation
to the several degrees. He stated that, " The first step upon entering these seminaries, is matriculation, which is accomplished by an appearance before the Vice Chancellor, who after a brief examination in the Greek Testament, and the AEneid of Virgil, or similar primary books, enrols the name of the student on the books of the University, and transfers him to his college.

In a college or hall at either University, there are two or more tutors, who give separate lectures every day, exclusive of holidays and festivals; in Oxford, these lectures consist of translations from the Latin and Greek classics, (each student following the other in construing a given number of verses or lines to the tutor) and in exercises in divinity, and logic; in Cambridge the exercises vary in one important particular, Mathematics  taking the place, in a very considerable degree, of the classics, and nearly superseding logic; divinity, however, continuing the same as at Oxford. The usual classics are in the Latin language, Virgil, Horace, Sallust, Ovid, Tacitus, Cicero, Terence, Livy, Juvenal, Martial, &c.; in the Greek, Herodotus, Xenophen, Thucydides, Pausanias,Homer, Pindar, Anacreon, AEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, &c. Dr. Watt's Logic is the work in general use in that science; and in mathematics, and the higher sciences Euclid, and the optics and principia of Newton, Plato, and Aristotle. A student pursues his studies for two years under the sole superintendence of his tutor, or for eight terms, which occupy about two years, when he is required to pass a public examination, termed "his responsions," and which consist in a trial of his ability, in construing one Latin and one Greek author, in his examination in Logic, and in the six first books of Euclid, and also in one of the Gospels; after this responsion, for which he receives a certificate if successful, he returns to his usual course of study, and at the expiration of eight terms more he claims his bachelor's degree by giving in two Latin, and two Greek authors, the whole of Euclid, logic, and the four Gospels; an examination in these will suffice for his degree, but if he be desirous of taking honors,as they are called, he may give in for his examination, the whole range of classic authors, Newton's Principia, and the Poetics and Rhetoric of Aristotle, besides the whole subject of Divinity; if his answers are perfectly satisfactory, he is admitted "first classman;" if not, in proportion to the excellence of his answers, he is rewarded by a second or third class-ship, beyond which there is no  Distinction; when it is asserted that out of a number of from one to two hundred, not more than five or six gain the first distinction, the severity of their examination may be imagined. 

The above is the course of study adopted at Oxford; in Cambridge it is similar in the general bearings, with the exception that a distinguished proficiency in mathematics is more valued than a similar ability in classics, and that in addition to the honors of class-ship, a separate rank is created for the most distinguished scholar, under the title of Senior Wrangler, the student next to him in ability being entitled the Junior Wrangler. A bachelorship in arts thus obtained, is the necessary preliminary to an entrance into any of the three professions—Divinity, Law, or Physic; the next honor is likewise common to the three professions, viz: "a Master of Arts," which is gained by a residence of sixteen terms more, although the necessity of attending lectures discontinues The examination for this degree is not severe, the former subjects treated of are renewed in the trial, and there is hardly an instance known of a failure, although a considerable number of candidates for the bachelor's degree are rejected, or as it is commonly called "plucked." After the master's degree, if further honors are contemplated, the choice of a profession is necessary; twelve terms added to a master's degree entitles a man to claim his bachelorship of faculty, that is, a bachelor of divinity, a bachelor of civil law, or a bachelor of physic; the examination for these degrees is trivial to the individual who has undergone the previous ordeals, and having taken the degree, he has but to wait sixteen terms longer to demand his full honor as Doctor of Divinity, Law, or Physic. " The individuals who constitute the University of Oxford, are—the Chancellor (always a nobleman educated at the University), the Vice Chancellor, elected by the heads of houses (the colleges and halls), the proctors, elected by the masters of arts, and who are in fact the police magistrates of the University, the fellows, scholars and exhibitioners of colleges, the masters and bachelors of arts, and the undergraduates, as those gentlemen are called, who have not taken a degree; besides these grand distinctions, there are officers connected with the dignity, police and pecuniary affairs of the University, and a peculiar class of students termed gentlemen-commoners in some of the colleges, who pay a higher sum for accommodation, wear a more splendid dress, and are entitled to claim their degree at rather an earlier period than the common student.  There are also the professors of the University, consisting of Regius professors of Divinity, Hebrew, Greek, Civil law, Physic; all of whom are appointed by the King.

Margaret, Professor of Divinity, Vinerian, Professor of Common Law, Savillian, Professor of Astronomy, Professor of Geometry, Litchneld, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Aldrichian, Professor of Physic, Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Anatomy, , These professors are appointed in the manner prescribed bythe wills of the founders of the professorships.

There is also a Professor of Natural Philosophy, History, Botany, Poetry,Mineralogy and Geology, Music, Anglo-Saxon.These professors are appointed by the Vice Chancellor and the heads of houses, in convocation assembled.

The scholars, exhibitioners, and fellows of the various colleges, are appointed in general under the conditions required.

The scholars, exhibitioners, and fellows of the various colleges, are appointed in general under the conditions required by the respective founders; but there are a few scholarship*. exhibitionships, and fellowships of the University, which may be gained, and their emoluments enjoyed by the candidate who, at a public and severe examination, proves a superior ability to his fellows.

The Vice-Chancellor is elected by the heads of the colleges and halls, every three years ; the office of Chancellor is for life, and is conferred by the graduates of the University, at a regular poll, if there be more than one candidate; the heads of houses are elected according to the forms directed by the will of the founder of the college, by the fellows of the society.

It will be seen that the usual course of study, consists of classical literature, logic and mathematics, all of which may be pursued within the precincts of the college, but when the student wishes to gain information on astronomy, history, or botany, physic, anatomy, etc.., he has to attend the classes of the professors upon those sciences, beyond the walls of his college.

This statement may be sufficient to display the general mode of instruction in the English Universities, but it is a mere outline.

It is necessary to add, that in Cambridge. there is a class of poor students called Sizars, supported upon the foundation of different colleges, and entitled to every distinction in common with others, in the forms of class-ships, prizes, honors, &c. The Cambridge professorships are as follows:—-Regius Professors of Divinity, Civil Law, Physic, Hebrew. Greek ; in the gift of the King."


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