a-level Classical Civilisation
Examination Board: OCR
Introduction and Structure
The study of ancient civilisations is most likely to appeal to those who have an interest in history, philosophy, literature and art and it is not necessary to have any prior knowledge of the classical world. Our aim is to discover what it was like in the times of the great philosophers, writers, sculptors, artists and historians. We uncover the past through source material such as plays, artefacts and epic poetry. The first year focuses on the origins of western drama and literature by studying the plays of the great playwrights and the epic poet, Homer. The second year focuses on Greek art and architecture and its influence on western art and design as well as the society, culture and values of the Romans through the writings of Virgil.
The aims of the course are for students to:
- develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, the classical world
- acquire, through studying a range of appropriate sources, knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of classical civilisation
- develop awareness of the continuing influence of the classical world on later times and of the similarities and differences between the classical world and later times
- develop and apply analytical and evaluative skills at an appropriate level
- make an informed, personal response to the material studied
Candidates will study four units:
The principal focus of this unit is on literature, society and values. The unit is also concerned with history, philosophy and religion. The set texts will be: Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Medea and Trojan Women.
Homer's Odyssey and Society
The principal focus of this unit is on literature, society and values. The unit is also concerned with history and archaeology. Candidates must study Homer's Odyssey. Passages for the commentary questions will be selected from books 4–12, 18–22.
Art and Architecture in the Greek World
The principal focus of this unit is on art, architecture and religion. The unit is also concerned with society and values. Candidates must be familiar with the specified free-standing sculpture, architectural sculpture, vases, and temple architecture.
Virgil and the World of the Hero
The principal focus of this unit is on literature, society and values. The unit is also concerned with history, politics and religion. Candidates must read the prescribed books selected from Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad.
Each unit is assessed by a 1 hour 30 minute written examination. The examination consists of a question based on the sources and an essay style question.
Careers and Progression
Classical civilisation is an arts subject and therefore opens doors to many types of university courses and careers without being an essential qualification for many. University courses are available in classical civilisation/studies, and there are joint honours courses involving classical subjects. The skills and knowledge developed throughout this course are transferrable and of value in a wide variety of non-subject specific careers such as accountancy, management, local government, teaching or the civil service as well as the more obvious paths into archaeology, tourism or museum work.
Minimum requirement: 6 GCSEs Grades 9-4 (or equivalent), including Grade 4 or above in English and maths
Strongly recommended: Grade 5 in English
Recommended: Grade 5 in classics (if taken)