A Level Classical Civilisation Level 3

Full Time

About the course

This A Level is included as either a CORE or a RECOMMENDED subject in one of our 14 suggested A Level pathways. You can find out more about these in our Prospectus or A Level guide. However, if timetabling allows for it, you can undertake any combination of three A Levels.

The course will introduce you to ancient Greek and Roman civilisations through the study of works of literature.

This course will help you to: develop an awareness of the many similarities between classical civilisation and our own; better understand how ancient spiritual, moral and cultural values helped shape modern life; gain the ability to analyse critically and evaluate historical evidence in its context; learn about influential works of classical art and their enduring influence upon civilisation.

In each unit you will be required to read widely and produce essays reflecting your own study of the source material. The course will also focus on the wider culture of the periods along with developing an understanding of ancient art.

You will study the following: The World of the Hero; Greek Theatre; Democracy and the Athenians.

The World of the Hero (40%)

The poems of Homer were considered by the Greeks themselves to be a foundation of Greek culture, standing as they do at the beginning of the Western literary canon. This component provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate the lasting legacy of the Homeric world and to explore its attitudes and values through Homer’s influential epic the Odyssey. 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.

This component also provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate Virgil’s Aeneid, a cornerstone and landmark in Western literature. Drawing inspiration from Homer, as well as from his own cultural and political context, Virgil explored what it was to be a hero in the Roman world and created a work which has proven enduringly popular.

Greek Theatre (30%)

The drama produced in the ancient 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 themselves 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. These are Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Euripides Bacchae, and Aristophanes Frogs. 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.

Democracy and the Athenians (30%)

The aim of this component is to examine the concept of Democracy; what this meant to the Athenians, and its positive and negative aspects. Learners will study the reforms of two key thinkers in depth, Solon and Cleisthenes, and assess the extent to which they laid the foundations for the democracy of the 5th century BC.

Learners will look at how democracy permeated Athenian identity, how it was celebrated and idealised, but also how it was criticised. The concepts of ‘popular’ leaders who mislead the people, or give them what they want rather than what they need, and a voting public who may not be fully informed on the issues, will resonate with today’s learners and make this study of one of the West’s foundational political ideas engaging and relevant.

To study Athenian democracy learners will engage with the literature and ideas of the period, from Greek tragedy to Plato’s philosophy. Learners will also study extracts from the comedies of Aristophanes, whose biting wit and political satire can still capture a modern audience as well as it did an ancient one.

Each of the units requires you to read set literary texts and research more widely on historical and cultural themes.

You will study the course for 4.5 -5 hours per week (4.5 hours in the first year and 5 hours in the second) and should expect to spend an additional 4.5 hours per week on homework and private study. Mock exams are held during the first year (In Feb/March), but do not count towards the final A Level. Exams for the whole A-Level are held in May or June of the second year.

Exam Board – OCR

Entry requirements

Five GCSEs at grade 4/C or above. Minimum of grade 4/C in English Language, English Literature and/or History at GCSE, with at least one of those being a 5/C or higher. No prior experience needed but a genuine interest in literature and history is beneficial.

Where next?

Classics graduates are popular with employers because they have developed skills needed in a wide range of careers – skills like critical thinking and textual analysis, fluent expression in writing, and the ability to synthesise and compare data from diverse sources. Not to mention an appreciation of high culture!

Work experience and employability

A variety of trips will help broaden your understanding of the Classical world, and give you opportunities to speak to museum curators, researchers and heritage managers about careers prospects in the field of historical studies.

We will organize trips to the Theatre to watch performances of the plays we study.

In the second year of the course there will be the opportunity for a trip to Italy, where you will be able to visit famous historical sites in Rome, Pompeii and Naples. This course does not contain a specific work experience component, but has other activities to help you develop employability skills. If you would like to undertake a work placement alongside your studies, our Employability Team can help.

What additional resources will I need?

You will be expected to supply your own stationery and copies of the set texts, you may want to purchase a textbook. You may also be asked to contribute to any courses and visits in which you take part.

Fees information

This course is free to students aged 16-18.

Students aged 19+ will usually be charged a tuition fee, unless they meet certain eligibility criteria for fee remission. For those paying, an Advanced Learner Loan may be available. For further advice on fees, waivers and loans, please contact the Fees Co-Ordinator at Queens Drive.


For queries about the course, please contact the course leader: francesco.mazzotta@newcollege.ac.uk

For general enquiries, please contact: enrolment@newcollege.ac.uk