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Classical Civilisation

Entry requirements

None – You do NOT have to have taken this subject at GCSE.
There is NO Latin or Greek language work in this A Level.

This A Level would suit candidates who:

  • are interested in any aspects of the Roman and Greek world
  • would like to learn more about the relevance of the Romans and Greeks to our own lives
  • enjoy literature – the poetry of Homer and Virgil is some of the finest you will ever read!
  • have an interest in History or Politics, or would like to learn more about the origins of drama and the theatre
  • want a seriously respected A Level subject on their UCAS forms and CVs.
Course content and examinations

There are three components. The departmental choices below are provisional to further discussion as the specifications were released very recently. They will be confirmed shortly.

Component 1 (40%) – The World of the Hero: you will study Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, as well as Virgil’s Aeneid. You will develop a sophisticated level of knowledge of the epics, the way in which they were composed, and the religious, cultural and social values and beliefs of their
societies. Homer was considered by the Greeks themselves to be a foundation of Greek culture, standing at the beginning of the Western literary canon. This component provides the opportunity to appreciate the lasting legacy of the Homeric world and to explore its values. The epics of Homer, with their heroes, gods and exciting narratives, have been in continuous study since their conception, and remain popular with learners and teachers today. Vergil’s Aeneid is
a landmark in Western literature. Drawing inspiration from Homer, as well as his own cultural and political context, Virgil explored what it was to be a Roman hero and created
a work which has proven enduringly popular.

Component 2 (30%) – Greek Theatre: the drama produced in the Greek theatre forms some of the most powerful literature of the ancient world, and has had a profound and wide-reaching influence on modern culture. To fully understand this cultural phenomenon requires study of
not only the plays but the context in which their form and production developed. To develop this understanding this component involves the study of the physical theatre space used by the Greeks to stage their dramas, and also depictions of this staging in the visual/material record. This study of the production of Greek drama is coupled with an in–depth study of three plays, all of which have proven to be enduring favourites. The themes and concepts explored by these plays are of significant relevance and interest as much to the modern audience as they were to that of the original performance.

Component 3 (30%) – The Late Roman Republic (79-
this was a period of upheaval and conflicting views on how the Roman state should function. These conflicts eventually led to the downfall of the Roman republican state and the rise of the Roman Emperors. In this component you will study the political thought of the period from Sulla’s retirement in 79 BC to the death of Cicero in 43 BC, through examining Cato, Julius Caesar, and Cicero. The exploration of the very different ideas of three contemporary political
figures brings this tumultuous period to life and lends itself to discussion of the practical difficulties familiar to states throughout history. By examining their distinctive attitudes, political beliefs, conduct, and impact, you will explore the ways in which the late Roman republican state developed, changed, and ultimately fell.

Where could this subject take you?

Classical Civilisation goes especially well as an A Level alongside English, Theatre Studies, History or Philosophy, but provides a worthy challenge to broaden one’s horizons,
whatever one’s other choices. There are some excellent Classics courses available at all the top universities and an A-Level in any classical subject is respected as an academic discipline when applying for any degree subject at all.

Good Classics graduates can end up working in pretty much anything other than Science based jobs – accountancy, marketing, teaching, law, banking and advertising to name just a few. Here are just a few examples of how jobs and careers are directly benefited by
a good Classics degree.

Art of Persuasion: Classics hones intellectual rigour, sharp memory and the ability to assimilate large volumes of material, due to the enormous breadth of subject matter –
does this sound like something which might help a lawyer?

Insight into People: look no further than the tragedies of ancient Greece and the scandals of imperial Rome if you’re interested in the nature of people and what motivates their actions – any use for journalism?

Perceptive Thinking: excellent powers of perception and analysis are developed by studying Ancient History – something a business person of any kind might surely find helpful?

Making Arguments: the art of rhetoric begins in the ancient world, and one studies the way in which they designed arguments and structured speeches to persuade and convince – something a politician might have to do? 

Love of the Subject: Classics is the foundation of so much of western civilisation and classicists tend to be very passionate about the value of our subject – rather important quality in a teacher?

Language and Words: classicists develop clear training in articulate thought and clarity of expression – surely at the top of the list of what writers need for success?

The Head of Classics at Warwick School, Mr David Stephenson, would be very happy to answer any further questions you may have. Please email him on