A Level Classical Civilisation

 

What is it about at sixth-form level? 

The classical world of the Greeks and the Romans is the bedrock of our civilisation today. They have provided us with everything from plays and philosophy to art and aqueducts. Like our immediate predecessors, we find it hard not to look back upon their times without a sense of awe at what they achieved. We bear the fruits of the Greeks’ enquiries into the world around us in the names of the subjects we study today, such as mathematics, history, and physics. We have the Romans to thank for the urban and social infrastructure we take for granted, such as our streets, sanitation and law courts.

By studying Classical Civilisation at A level, you will become familiar with many aspects of the ancient world. You will look at them as they saw themselves, through epic poems, tragedies, and art and architecture. In studying them, you will come to understand the historical, political and social context in which they are set. Even though you will not be working in Latin or Greek, you will also come to appreciate the beauty of the language in which they wrote.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will study two components. In Component 1 (The World of the Hero), you will study Homer’s Iliad, one of the founding texts of Greek culture. You will examine the concept of a hero through the values and behaviour that they displayed. You will look at the wider social, cultural and religious context and the relationships between gods, men, women and slaves. In component 2 (Culture and the Arts), you will look at Greek theatre. You will examine three plays, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Euripides’ Bacchae and Aristophanes’ Frogs. You will consider what meanings the ancient Greeks drew from their drama, their styles of performance and the literary techniques they used to create their narratives.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will study two more components. You will study a second text in Component 1 (The World of the Hero): Virgil’s Aeneid. Drawing upon your knowledge of Homer, you will consider the influence of the Greek epic on the Roman epic. In component 3 (Beliefs and Ideas) you will study the ancient attitude to love and relationships through the works of two fascinating writers, Sappho and Ovid. You will look at their literary style, their representation of gender and social norms and their beliefs about love and desire, elements of which will seem surprisingly modern.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

An A level in Classical Civilisation represents a broad portfolio of skills and knowledge. The course is focused on classical works but in coming to understand them, you will have learned about the history of the ancient world along with political, social and philosophical ideas. You will develop a sensitivity to language and the art of literary criticism. The essay-based nature of the course means that you will develop your writing skills.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

There are no formal entry requirements. You will need a love of literature, art and history. It is an essay-based course, so you will need to have good writing skills.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

For the AS level, there are two examinations. The first is on Component 1 (The World of the Hero), in which you will answer questions on Homer’s Iliad. The second is on Component 2 (Culture and the Arts) in which you answer questions on Greek theatre. Both papers contain a range of questions, from those requiring short answers to longer essay questions. Each paper is worth 50% of the total marks and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes.

A level

For the A level, there are three examinations. The first is on Component 1 (The World of the Hero), in which you will answer questions on Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid. ‘The second is on component 2 (Culture and the Arts) in which you will answer questions on Greek theatre. The third is on component 3 (Beliefs and Ideas), you will answer questions on the two writers, Sappho and Ovid. All papers contain a range of questions, from those requiring short answers to longer essay questions. Paper 1 is worth 40% of the marks and lasts 2 hours 20 minutes. Papers 2 and 3 are each worth 30% of the marks and last 1 hour 45 minutes.

Reading

Iliad by Homer
Translated by M. Hammond
Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140444445

The Aeneid by Virgil
Translated by D. West
Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449327

Bacchae by Euripides
Translated by D. Franklin
Published by CUP, ISBN 978-0521653725

Oedipus the King by Sophocles
Translated by R. Fagles
Published by Penguin ISBN 978-0140444254

Frogs by Aristophanes
Translated by J. Affleck & C. Letchford
Published by CUP, ISBN 978-0521172578

Sappho and Ovid
Published by OCR

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: OCR H008, A level: OCR H408

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”

Gabriel

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”