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Classical Studies

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The Subject

At A Level, Classical Studies provides students with the opportunity to explore the literature and culture of the ancient Greek and Roman world in great depth. We read some of the greatest literature from Greece and Rome in translation, and explore the depiction of drama and history in art and archaeology.

No prior knowledge of the ancient world or of classical languages is required to take this course, but students are normally expected to have a good track record in English and/or History. Taking Classical Studies at A Level makes for an excellent pairing with most subjects, given the breadth of the material studied. In particular, studying the roots of western civilisation and culture will greatly change how you understand later history, literature and politics.

A Classical Studies A-level is excellent preparation for a number of degree courses including Law, English, Drama, History, Medicine, Philosophy, Modern Languages, and of course, Classics.

Beyond university Classicists have found careers in all walks of life, including banking, teaching, business, journalism and politics. Notable figures who studied classical subjects at university include Charlotte Higgins, Boris Johnson, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling.

The Course

The A Level course is specifically designed to offer a broad overview of the ancient world, and incorporates features of Archaeology, English, History and Politics.

The first module – Greek Theatre – examines the tragedies and comedies of Athens from the 5th century BC in their cultural context. Alongside reading Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles, students will learn how plays were performed and staged. Students also examine the depiction of the theatre in Greek art, and consider how much we can reconstruct of the performance of ancient Greek drama given what has survived the ravages of time.

The second module – The World of the Hero – offers students the chance to read western civilisation’s most famous epic poetry. In Year 12, students read Homer’s Odyssey and consider what kind of hero Odysseus is, and what his interactions with savages like the Cyclops can tell us about Homeric Greece. In Year 13 we move onto Virgil’s Aeneid – the national epic of a Rome whose political system was beginning to return to a state of calm after the bloodiest period of civil war in Roman history.

The third module (which is studied at A Level) explores the Politics of the Late Republic. We chart the careers of famous Romans of the Late Republic, a period of great political upheaval and civil war, and consider how far political ambition interfered with ideology. Alongside excerpts from Cicero’s letters and public speeches, students will examine the life and times of Julius Caesar, Cato Uticensis, and Cicero himself.

This qualification is examined by OCR.



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