Classical Civilisation

Course specification: OCR: AS Level H008, A Level H408

Classical Civilisation

StatueClassical Civilisation is a varied and fascinating discipline. It involves study of the culture, history and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. The course is entirely in translation and it is not necessary to have studied Classical Civilisation at GCSE or before.

The A Level consists of three papers:

Unit 1 The world of the hero

We read one of Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid, all of which explore the Trojan War and the events which follow it. We consider themes such as what makes a hero, justice, revenge and fate, and explore the plots and characterisations. We also investigate differences between Greek and Roman values and the context of the stories.

Unit 2 Culture and the Arts - Greek theatre

This module looks at the performance of Greek plays, including the role theatre played in religious festivals, the design of theatre buildings and the development of styles and plots. We read two tragic plays: Oedipus the King, where a man trying to right a wrong inadvertently reveals a terrible secret, and Bacchae which showcases the terrifying repercussions of failing to show respect to the gods. We also read a comedy play, Frogs, which involves the god Dionysus making a trip to the Underworld accompanied by a cunning slave and a chorus of frogs.

Unit 3 Belief and ideas - politics and the late republic

This module is focused on the turbulent history of Rome just before the end of the republic and the rise of the Roman emperors. We study the key figures of the time, including Caesar and Cicero, and examine the events of the civil wars, the class struggles in ancient Rome and the development of Roman political ideas.

The AS Level consists of selected parts from two of the A Level papers:

Unit 1 The world of the hero
Unit 2 Culture and the Arts - Greek theatre

Key skills

  • Academic writing

Enrichment opportunities

  • Trips to museums with classical collections
  • Attending the University of Cambridge’s classical lectures
  • Attending the University of Cambridge’s Greek play and other theatre visits
  • Regular Classics trip to Greece or Italy

Higher Education and career prospects

Classical Civilisation is highly respected in support of an application to any degree course and will teach you how to articulate and hone an argument; these are essential skills for any career involving the written word. Combining the study of literature, art and society, it provides a suitable foundation for further study of the arts and humanities and is frequently a pathway into careers in law, business, journalism, academia and business.

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