A Level Latin


What is it about at sixth form level?

The Roman world empire may have fallen over fifteen hundred years ago but until then Rome had been a continuous presence and a power for over a thousand years. No modern-day nation can rival it for longevity. The legacy of Rome continues to be felt in many ways today. It is to them we owe town-planning, sanitation, viticulture, great architecture, the law and, across much of Europe, the languages we speak. By studying Latin at A level, you will develop the linguistic skills necessary for you to penetrate the Roman world and discover just how complex and surprisingly familiar a world it was. Through studying Cicero, for example, you will be understand just how true the claim is that to understand modern politics, you need to start in the Roman Forum.

Alongside Ciceronian politics and rhetoric, you will look at history, poetry and prose and develop a profound sense of the richness of the Roman world and the debt we owe them. You will also learn to appreciate the beauty of the language and, through mastering its complexities, come to better understand your own.

Lower sixth

You will look at Virgil’s Aeneid (Book XI, lines 1–224). In this selection, the final phases of the war between the Trojans and the Italians are played out and we meet Camilla, the Italian Amazon. In studying it, you will begin to learn the crafts of scansion and literary criticism. You will also study Tacitus’ Histories I: 4 –7, 12–14, 17–23, 26. This discusses the famous “Year of the Four Emperors” following the demise of Nero. Tacitus portrays the events in his dense elliptical style and with his penetrating understanding of human psychology.

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 will look at two new main texts. The first is Virgil’s Aeneid Book XII. You will be studying some portions in Latin and the rest of the book in English. Book XI concerns the end of the war in Italy and the death of Turnus. The second is Tacitus’ Annals IV. You will again study some portions in English and the rest in Latin. In this selection, you will continue to look at the political upheavals in Rome along with international conicts during Tiberius’ reign.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

The study of Latin 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 Latin works well with any combination of academic subjects.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

An A or A* at Latin 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 seen prose and verse. The Unit 2 exam (Prose Composition or Comprehension) will test their ability to understand more advanced prose unseen passages or their ability to translate into Latin. The Unit 3 exam (Prose Literature) will test students’ knowledge and understanding of Tacitus and Virgil. The Unit 4 exam (Verse Literature) will test their knowledge and understanding of Virgil’s Aeneid XII. Paper 1 is worth 33% of the A level 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.


Virgil Aeneid XII: A Selection 
By J. Burbidge
Published by Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 9781350059221

Tacitus Annals IV: A Selection with Introduction, Notes and Commentary
By R. Cromarty
Published by Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN: 9781350060326

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: OCR H443

Robert Heggie
Head of Department


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Grades achieved at MPW

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University of Bristol (Law)

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University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

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King's College London (Biology)

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Grades achieved at MPW

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University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

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