Classical Civilisation

Board:  OCR

What is Classical Civilisation?

  • Classical Civilisation is the study of Ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature WITHOUT the study of the languages. This means that we can focus on a much broader range of topics.
  • Texts are studied in English in the same way as they are in English Literature lessons.
  • It is essentially a mixture of English Literature, Drama, History and a little bit of Art. It combines well with subjects such as English, History, Art, Philosophy, Theatre Studies, Politics and Latin.
  • It allows you to explore the ancient societies as well as enjoy some of the best literature in translation whilst looking at big questions such as ‘What makes a hero?’ , ‘Are women untrustworthy?’ and ‘Is it ever right to kill someone?’

What do I need to study Classical Civilisation?

  • You do NOT need any knowledge of the ancient languages
  • An enthusiasm for ancient civilisation and/or literature - this includes films (think Troy and Gladiator) and the ancient myths!

Course aims:

  • To investigate and appreciate the history, culture, society, literature, drama, architecture and/or art of Ancient Greece and Rome. There is a vast choice of options so we can concentrate on whatever you find interesting.
  • To develop an appreciation of the influence of the Classical world on today’s society. To enrich the students’ understanding of many areas of modern life.
  • To develop the skills of critical thinking and evaluation.

Course Details:

  • At AS two topics are studies:

  • Greek Tragedy in its context. As part of this module pupils look at what life and theatre was like in 5th Century BC Athens, including society views about men, women and religion. They then study four plays in order to be able to describe what happens in the plays and what each character is like. Wider themes discussed in the plays include what justice is, when it is right to get revenge and how women should be viewed.
  • City Life in Roman Italy. within this module pupils sudy what it would have been like to live in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia in the 1st Century AD. Pupils will look at archaeological finds, reconstructions and inscriptions in order to see what jobs people had and what they would do for leisure.
  • At A Level two topics are studied:

  • The world of the Hero. Pupils study the Iliad and Aeneid to compare what life was like as a hero and what makes a true hero.
  • Life in Roman Britain: Pupils use archaeology, texts and inscriptions to look at how the Romans kept control of Britain as an outpost of their Empire and what it would have been like to live in Roman Britain.


  • When ancient tragedy is studied we will organise visits to performances of the plays, including modern interpretations.
  • We visit Roman sites in Britain such as Bath and York.
  • We are interested in running a trip to Europe every few years. In 2015 we have a trip organised to Pompeii.

Classical Civilisation and Careers

  • It is a popular subject at University level because it ties in with so many other subjects. In 2013, two of our students began University courses in Classical Civilisation and 75% of the current Year 13 class are applying to study Classical Civilisation at University. Many single or combined courses are now offered, such as English and Classical Literature, History, Classical Civilisation or Classical Civilisation and Philosophy. Oxford University takes some students every year for its Classics course who have not previously studied any ancient languages.
  • Classical Civilisation is very relevant to the study of Philosphy, Politics or Sociology, as it gives a valuable insight into very advanced societies which have influenced European society ever since.
  • Classical Civilisation can lead on to almost any career as it develops so many applicable skills. These include oral and written communication skills, the ability to evaluate information and the development of an interest in and understanding of social issues.