A Level Course Listing

Classical Civilisation

A Level Classical Civilisation offers you an opportunity to understand the immense impact ancient cultures have had upon the world we live in today.

It develops analytical, interpretative and evaluative skills through an examination of the ideas and values of cultures which still heavily influence modern thinking and society. It embraces a wide range of sources from the ancient world – statues, coins, monuments and literature and explores fundamental questions of humanity about war and peace, human relationships of all types, multiculturalism, religion, self and state, fate, responsibility, and power.

The A Level has been devised to credit your encouragement to make links between classical sources and how they have been received, analysed and appropriated over the centuries, drawing comparisons and contrasts with the world we live in today. Classical Civilisation is an excellent complement to the study of history, literature, philosophy, politics, religious studies, the arts and of course Latin and Greek. You do not need to have studied Classical Civilisation before to take this A Level.

Where can it lead?

Those who have studied Classics are very much in demand by all occupations because of the analytical and problem-solving skills they have developed in their study. Areas of work that can be entered are journalism, communications, politics, advertising, banking, museum work, archives, archaeology, and education. The list is endless.

Course Outline

Examination board: OCR H408

Entry Requirements

At least a grade 6 at GCSE (Classical Civilisation, if studied) or at least a 6 in English Literature.

Component 1 (H408/11): The World of the Hero

40% of total; written examination of 2hrs 20mins.

Homer and Virgil were creators of ancient epics that were to form a cornerstone in the canon of Western literature. Close reading of Homer’s Iliad will plunge you into a world of fame-thirsty heroes favoured by a pantheon of powerful and petulant gods and goddesses. We shall examine what it meant to be at war from both Trojan and Greek perspectives of the 10-year siege of the city of Troy – the suffering, the valour and the cunning.

Virgil’s Aeneid is a myth about the foundation of Rome, weaving together the exploits of Aeneas from when he escapes Troy and embarks upon a quest to reach Italy and found a society that would grow into the greatest empire of the ancient Mediterranean world. A tale of soul-searching, courage and duty, the Aeneid explores Roman values: what did it mean to be a ‘good’ citizen, with Rome’s bloody history and its multicultural identity? This epic is full of some of the most famous stories of the ancient world, including the Wooden Horse of Troy, an unforgettable visit to the monsters, criminals and past and future heroes of the Underworld, and the magnetism and tragedy of powerful queens like Dido of Carthage.

Component 2 (H408/21): Culture and the Arts: Greek Theatre

30% of total; written examination of 1hr 45mins.

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 today. Fundamental to the social, political and religious lives of the ancient world (it was part of a seven-day festival and competitive), Greek theatre never shied away from exploring taboos or challenging cultural values.

We will look at everything from the way in which it was staged (actors, masks, costumes) to the buildings it was performed in, to an in-depth study of three plays which have proved to be enduring favourites: Oedipus the King, Bacchae, and Frogs. This component embraces both literary and visual/material sources.

Component 3 (H408/33): Beliefs and Ideas: Greek Religion

30% of total; written examination of 1hr 45mins.

Religion was an essential part of life in the ancient Mediterranean world – from the personal experience of the divine through mystery cults and oracles to social and political participation of the cultivation of the Olympian immortals and hero cults. It was a polytheistic religion – the ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and this component of the A Level will explore the nature of the Olympian gods – Zeus, Hera, Poseidon etc.

We analyse the role of religion in everything from medical healing to ritual practices of sacrifice to the significance of the Olympic Games. We also look at the way in which it conflicted with key philosophical thinking of the time, for example examining critiques of religion and Socrates’ controversial ideas on the divine and justice.