Ancient History

The course

Ancient History differs from a GCSE in History due to the nature of the sources you will use. While archaeological and other evidence is considered, much of our knowledge of comes from ‘historians’ of the time who actually saw themselves as writers of literature or moral philosophy. Through these sources, you will learn about and judge the actions of Alexander of Macedon, who expanded the Greek-speaking world over much of Asia; you will see how Hannibal brought Rome to her knees, before she recovered to lay the foundations of her later empire; and how a female ruler, Cleopatra - the last of the Egyptian Pharaohs and last Hellenistic ruler – had such a deep impact on the last days of the Roman Republic. This course consequently offers a wide range of reading and invites the student to apply both their knowledge and interpretation of this work in the exams and controlled assessment in essay form.

What skills do I need?

Students who choose Ancient History combine the intellectual interest in past events to be found in studying History with the reading and analysis found in English Literature, yet without being solely focussed on one activity or the other. Your own reading underpins this course, but we will seek to bring the words written over 2000 years ago to life in the classroom.

How is the course assessed?

The course is divided into three examined components and a controlled assessment:

Unit 1: The Greeks at War focuses on the rise of the Kingdom of Macedon and the career of Alexander the Great, 356-323 BC.

Unit 2: The Rise of Rome deals with the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, 218-146 BC, particularly Hannibal’s invasion and defeat.

Unit 3: Women in Ancient Politics focuses on Cleopatra of Egypt and her impact on Roman politics, 69-30 BC.

Unit 4: This is the controlled assessment which looks at the Hellenistic kingdoms that rose after Alexander’s death in 323 BC but would be eclipsed by Rome by 133 BC.

Each of the three exam units involves a 1 hour 15 minute paper, comprising a source-based short answer and an extended essay section. Each exam paper is worth 25% of the total marks of the course, as is the 2000-word controlled assessment.


The Campaigns of Alexander

By Arrian, translated by A. De Selincourt

Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140442533


The Rise of the Roman Empire

By Polybius, translated by I. Scott-Kilvert

Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140443622


The Fall of the Roman Republic

By Plutarch, translated by R. Warner

Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449341


The Hellenistic Age

By P. Green

Published by Modern Library, ISBN 978-0812967401


Exam Board and Specification Codes

OCR Ancient History J151 (legacy)