Head of Department

Mr M Weston

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Aims of the Department

The study of the Greek and Roman civilisations and their languages deepens and enhances our understanding of the modern world and the influences that have shaped it. In addition these subjects offer academic rigour and training in thought and communication that is second to none. Our aim is to offer the challenges and rewards of studying the language, literature, art, history and philosophy of the Greeks and Romans to all students, awakening wherever possible an interest that will enrich their lives as much as it will their academic profile.

Students may have the opportunity to study Latin (if there is enough demand) and classical civilisation at GCSE and A level from the fourth form onwards. Ancient Greek may also available as an extra-curricular option. However, both of these would be subject to demand and availability.

Summary of subject content

Upper school (KS4/GCSE)

Classical civilisation

Examination Title : Classical Civilisation (J199)

Examination Board : OCR

This course centres around the study of some of the most exciting and influential achievements of the Greeks and Romans, enabling students both to appreciate these works in their own right and also to understand more about how our own society and culture have evolved.

There are two units to this course focusing on the study of literary and visual/material sources.

Unit 1: Myth and Religion

Students will study myths regarding the role of the gods and heroes in the founding of Athens and Rome and the importance of Heracles/Hercules to both the Greek and Roman world. Myth as a symbol of power will also be explored, as will ever-popular myths about the underworld.

Students will also look at the role of religion in the everyday lives of ancient Greeks and Romans. The study of temples, sacrifice, festivals, death and beliefs in the afterlife will give a broad overview of religion in the ancient world, and provides opportunity for the study of a wide variety of material remains, including remarkable temples and works of art.

Students will be required to make informed comparisons between Greek and Roman ideas, including the characteristics of the different societies, and the impact of the different cultural contexts on the theme studied. They will also be expected to use literature and visual/material culture in conjunction with one another in order to inform their judgements, including discussion of why or how the sources may present things differently from each other.

Unit 2: Roman City Life

In this component Students will explore everyday life in Roman cities, with a particular focus on the Imperial period and popular sites and artefacts from Rome, Ostia, Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The unit also comprises of a study of a variety of aspects of Roman society; such as Roman housing, education, entertainment and culture.

The Literature topics examine poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction texts to provide students with an introduction to a variety of literature.

Latin [extra curricular]

This may be available as an option to all students in the fourth and fifth forms. If the subject is offered students would have the opportunity to find out more about Latin in the third form before making their choice of options, and are encouraged to consider the following points:

  • GCSE Latin involves the rigorous study of grammar and so can greatly improve students’ command of English;
  • Learning Latin provides a helpful framework for the more rapid learning of any other language;
  • The detailed study of set texts provides a chance to hear what the Romans thought and wrote around two millennia ago in their own words;
  • The way in which set texts are analysed greatly improves students’ skills in understanding and appreciating literature generally;
  • A good grade at GCSE carries weight with universities;
  • This is a fast course – from scratch to GCSE in two years where many other schools allow at least twice the time. Students should be prepared for rapid and highly focused study.

Exam board: OCR

Exam title:  Latin (J282)

Lower and upper sixth

Examination Title: A Level Classical Civilisation (H408)

Examination Board: OCR

L6th Modules:

Unit 1 “The World of the Hero” In the Lower Sixth Form we study Homer’s great epic of the adventures of the great Greek hero Odysseus on his way home after the Trojan War. Students study the text in English and explore issues such as heroism, the gods, realism, the values of Homeric society and the historical background to the story.

Unit 2 “Culture and Arts” Students study the Greek Theatre via a selection of plays such as the tragedies Oedipus the King by Sophocles and the Bacchae by Euripides as well as a comedy the Frogs by Aristophanes. Students also explore a variety of visual sources such as the theatre buildings themselves and a selection of works of art.


Unit 2 “Greek Art” Students gain an insight into the rapidly changing world of Greece in the 6th to 4th centuries BC via an in-depth look at some of the finest sculpture and vases the Classical world has to offer such as the Artemision Zeus and the Aphrodite of Cnidos. There is no literature in this module.

Upper Sixth Modules:

Unit 1“The World of the Hero” Students add the study of the great Roman epic the Aeneid by Virgil to this course. Students will study the great story of the Trojan War and how the hero Aeneas escaped Troy and helped found the Roman race. Students will explore the role of heroes such as Odysseus, Aeneas and Hector, the role of the gods, the concept of fate, the cultures and societies which produced the two great works.

Unit 3 “Beliefs and Ideas” Students will study the topic of Love and Relationships in the ancient world. This component offers students the opportunity to recognise and relate to the passions, frustrations and delights of love in the ancient world. The ethical questions raised by these ideas continued to be wrestled over by successive generations and this topic will generate interesting and important discussions. Students will explore a variety of sources from the more conceptual discussions of philosophers like Plato to the unique insight provided by Sappho and the light hearted approach of Ovid.

Latin (subject to demand)

Students may have the opportunity to study both language and literature in greater depth for this very demanding and rewarding subject if it is offered at A level.

Latin is commonly studied alongside science and mathematics or arts and humanities, adding highly respected evidence of literacy to the former profile and of logical rigour to the latter.

Set texts currently include extracts from:

  • Cicero’s De Imperio
  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Tacitus’ Annals
  • Pliny’s Letters

Exam board: OCR

Trips, special projects, extra-curricular clubs/activities

The department offers Ancient Greek at lunchtime and after school for students. This can lead to a qualification such as OCR’s GCSE.

The department runs classics trips to Greece or Italy every two years.

Career opportunities

Students of classical subjects go on to many varied careers, not just as classics teachers. The skills inherent in these subjects are exceedingly transferable and highly regarded.

Reading lists

GCSE Classical Civilisation

Boardman, J. (2005) Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period, Thames and Hudson.

Bradley, P. (2000) Ancient Rome: Using Evidence, CUP.

Bradley, P. (2000) Ancient Greece: Using Evidence, CUP.

Burket, W. (1987) Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical, Blackwell.

Dugdale, E. (2008) Greek Theatre in Context, CUP.

Jones, P. and Sidwell, K. (1997) The World of Rome: An Introduction to Roman Culture, CUP

Mikalson, J. (2005) Ancient Greek Religion, Blackwell.

Renshaw, J. (2015) In Search of the Greeks, Bloomsbury.

Renshaw, J. (2012) In Search of the Romans, Bloomsbury.

Shelton, J. (1998) As the Romans Did. Bloomsbury.

Spawforth, T. (2006) The Complete Greek Temples, Thames and Hudson.

Woodford, S. (1986) An Introduction to Greek Art. Duckworth.

A Level Classical Civilisation


Bowie, A. (1996) Aristophanes: Myth, Ritual and Comedy, CUP.

Dover, K. (1974) Aristophanic Comedy, University of California Press.

Cartledge, P. (1990) Aristophanes and his Theatre of the Absurd, Bloomsbury Academic.

Csapo, E. and W.J. Slater, (1994) The Context of Ancient Drama, University of Michigan.

Dugdale, E. (2008) Greek Theatre in Context, CUP.

Easterling, P.E. (ed) (1997) The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy, CUP.

Foley, H. (2001) Female acts in Greek Tragedy, Princeton University Press.

Garvie, A. (2016) The Plays of Sophocles, Bloomsbury.

Gregory, J. (2005) A Companion to Greek Tragedy, Blackwell.

Konstan, D. (1995) Greek Comedy and Ideology, OUP.

MacDowell, D.M. (1995) Aristophanes and Athens: An introduction to the Plays, OUP.

Moorwood, J. (2016) The Plays of Euripides, Bloomsbury.

Pelling, C. (ed) (1997) Greek Tragedy and the Historian, Clarendon Press.

Revermann, M. (ed) (2014) The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy, CUP.

Scodell, R. (2010) An Introduction to Greek Tragedy, CUP.

Storey, I.C. and A. Allan (2013) A Guide to Ancient Greek Drama, Blackwell.

Stuttard, D. (2016) looking at Bacchae, Bloomsbury.

Swift, L. (2016) Greek Tragedy, Bloomsbury.

Wiles, D. (2000) Greek Theatre Performance: An Introduction, CUP.

World of the Hero: The Odyssey

Callen King, K. (2012) Ancient Epic, Wiley-Blackwell.

Ahl, F. and Roisman, H. (1996) The Odyssey Re-formed, Cornell University Press.

Camps, W. A. (1980) An Introduction to Homer, OUP.

Fowler, R. (ed) (2004) The Cambridge Companion to Homer, CUP.

Graziosi, B. (2016) Homer, OUP.

Griffin, J. (2010) Homer: The Odyssey, CUP.

Griffin, J. (2013) Homer, Bloomsbury.

Jenkyns, R. (1992) Classical Epic Homer and Virgil. Bristol Classical Press.

Kahane, A. (2012) Homer for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury.

Lane Fox, R. (2008) Travelling Heroes, Greeks and their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer, Penguin.

Love and Relationships

Campbell, R. (1969) Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Penguin Classics.

Davidson, J. (2008) The Greeks and Greek Love, Phoenix.

Dover, K. (2016) Greek Homosexuality, Bloomsbury Academic.

Freeman, P. (2016) Searching for Sappho, Norton.

Goldhill, S. (2004) Love Sex and Tragedy, John Murray.

Green, P. (1982) Ovid: The Erotic Poems, Penguin Classics.

Greene, E. (ed) (1996) Reading Sappho, University of California Press.

Kraut, R. (ed) (1992) The Cambridge Companion to Plato, CUP.

Maclachlan, B. (2012) Women in Ancient Greece, Continuum.

Miles, C. and Norwich, J.J. (1997) Love in the Ancient World, Weidenfeld and Nicholson.

Motto, A. (2007) Seneca on Love, accessed online.

Osborne, R. (2008) The World of Athens, CUP.

Pomeroy, S. (1994) Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves, Pimlico

Potter, D.S. (2010) Companion to the Roman Empire, Wiley-Blackwell.

Reeve, C.D.C. (2006) Plato on Love, Hackett.

Sandbach, F. (1989) The Stoics, Hackett Publishing.

Sharples, R. (1996) Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics, Routledge.

Skinner, M.B. (2014) Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture.

Thibault, J.C. (1964) The Mystery of Ovid’s Exile, University of California Press.

Toohey, P. (1969) Epic Lessons: An Introduction to Ancient Didactic Poetry, Routledge.

World of the Hero: The Aeneid

BBC Podcast “In Our Time” –“The Aeneid” with Edith Hall, Catherine Edwards and Philip Hardie.

Callen King, K. (2012) Ancient Epic, Wiley-Blackwell.

Camps, W. A. (1969) An Introduction to Virgil’s Aeneid, OUP.

Deryk Williams, R. (2013) Aeneas and the Roman Hero, Bloomsbury.

Gransden, K. W. (2004) Virgil: The Aeneid, CUP.

Griffin, J. (2013) Virgil, Bloomsbury.

Martindale, C. (ed) (1997)The Cambridge Companion to Virgil, CUP.

Wallace Hadrill, A. (1993) Augustan Rome, BCP.

Williams, R. D. (2013) The Aeneid of Virgil: A Commentary Based on the Translation of C. Day lewis, Bloomsbury.