A Level Classical Greek


What is it about at sixth form level?

Europe has long looked to Greece for its roots. Seemingly out of nowhere, nearly three thousand years ago, an epic poem from Homer appears and within just a few centuries, we are in the world of Socrates, Sophocles and Pericles, a world in which there is an outpouring of novel ways of thought. It was witness to the birth of the theatre and comedies and tragedies that are still read and performed today for the insights they give us into the human condition. It is there that we look for the wellspring of the philosophy and science that remains with us in the names of the very disciplines they have yielded: history, biology, ethics, physics, mathematics, psychology and so on. The Greeks bequeathed us art, architecture, poems, myths and gods whose presence can still be felt today everywhere from the palatial houses of England to blockbuster films from Hollywood. It was also of course the source of the democratic idea of government that most people aspire to today (though you may be surprised by just how undemocratic Athenian democracy really was).

The study of Greek will also involve you in the study of a beautiful and complex language, mastery of which will sharpen your mind and give you a greater appreciation of your mother tongue.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will build on the grammar and vocabulary you acquired at GCSE so that you can address increasingly difficult unseen translations and become confident at translating from Latin into English and vice versa. You will look at Sophocles’ Ajax. You will read some portions in Greek and the rest in English. The play concerns Ajax’s suicide after discovering that that he had slaughtered the cattle of the Greeks and not their army leaders through being in a hallucinatory state.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will deepen your knowledge of grammar and range of vocabulary through studying a greater quantity of text. You continue your study of Ajax. You will also begin studying Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War Book VI. Through your study of the latter, you will learn of the disastrous Sicilian expedition launched by the Athenians.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

The study of Greek has long been a respected part of an education and it develops a wide range of skills. In order to master the complex grammar, you will have to develop a logical mind. Alongside learning linguistics, you will be exploring historical, philosophical and literary ideas and making connections between them and the modern world. Close analysis of texts will develop a careful eye for detail and an appreciation of literary form. Classicists have long been admired for the measured and beautiful powers of oral and written expression such study yields. These universally-respected attributes means that Greek works well with any combination of academic subjects.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

An A or A* at Greek is desirable with a B as a minimum as the jump from GCSE to A level is considerable. You will also need an interest in literature, history and politics.

How is the course assessed?

A level

For the A level, there are four exams. The Unit 1 exam (Unseen Translation) will test students’ ability to translate unseen prose and verse. The Unit 2 exam (Prose Composition or Comprehension) will test their ability to understand more advanced unseen passages or to translate into Greek. The Unit 3 exam (Prose Literature) will test students’ knowledge and understanding of Book VI of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War in Greek and portions in English. The Unit 4 exam (Verse Literature) will test their knowledge and understanding of Sophocles’ Ajax, partly read in the original Greek and partly in English. Paper 1 is worth 33% and lasts 1 hour 45 minutes. Paper 2 is worth 17% and lasts 1 hour 15 minutes. Papers 3 and 4 are worth 25% each and last 2 hours each.


OCR Anthology for AS and A-level Classical Greek
Edited by M. Campbell
Published by Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1474266024 

The Oxford Illustrated History of the Classical World
By J. Boardman
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0198721123

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: OCR H444 

Robert Heggie
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."