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Classical Greek A Level *Fees payable* at Brentwood School

Course description

What is Classical Greek?

Athens in the 5th century BC: arguably the most exciting time to have been alive. Democracy, philosophy, empire, tragedy, war: the Athenians didn't just develop and live out these ideas, but they also wrote about them in language that is startlingly vibrant and expressive. If you want to understand why it is that we think the way we do today, and if you want to develop a fresh perspective on the modem world, read about the way the Athenians saw their world


Skills you will develop

Greek will develop a whole range of skills, including the ability to think both logically and laterally (many of the great code-breakers at Bletchley Park in the Second World War were classicists). In particular, Greek will help you work on your

  • Understanding of how language is formed and structured
  • Ability to analyse the way language is used to inform, influence and persuade
  • Ability to translate accurately and express yourself clearly
  • Ability to provide a structured and well-supported argument
  • Understanding of how the modem world has developed from its ancient roots.

These skills are highly valued by universities and future employers. There are also a number of combined courses, e.g. Classics and English, Classics and French, available for students who wish to continue studying Classics alongside another subject. Greek is also a good starting point for a degree in Classical Civilisation, Ancient History or Archaeology, or another course investigating the Classical world but without a focus on language.

In the Classics department, we support and encourage students to gain places to read Classics and other Ancient History/Classical Civilisation courses at highly-ranked universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

There are many students who take Greek in the Sixth Form who do not go on to study it at university. Many have found that Greek has given them a competitive edge when applying for a degree in Medicine, Science, Mathematics, Modern languages or English at a highly-ranked university. University admissions tutors in almost all subjects highly respect Greek for the strong logical, linguistic and analytical skills that it gives to students. 

Course Specific Objectives

The course aims to encourage candidates to:

  • Develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, the classical world
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of classical civilisation
  • Develop awareness of the continuing influence of the classical world on later times and of the similarities and differences between the classical world and later times
  • Develop and apply analytical and evaluative skills
  • Develop language skills and a sensitive and analytical approach to language generally
  • Make an informed, personal response to the material studied.    

How the course is taught

 A Level Greek is taught by two teachers who divide the language and literature duties between them. 


Homework is set once a week by both teachers and should consist of;

  • Language work, such as an unseen passage to translate, and/or revision of vocabulary, syntax and/or 'endings'
  • Preparing ahead in both set texts.

Classical Greek is not a soft option and homework duties are not light; pupils are expected to keep up with work set, to maintain a high standard of work, to learn from mistakes and to read around the subject where necessary.

Preparatory Work

We expect students to read a portion of their set text authors in translation and research the literary and/or historical context of the works before starting the course. We would also expect students to undertake some light translation work to ensure they remain up to speed with Greek grammar and vocabulary.

Course content

The language of Classical Greece: over two years, candidates will study a range of prose and verse authors with a view to finally tackling unseen passage from authors such as Thucydides and Euripides; candidates will also study how to translate from English-Greek although please note that this is NOT compulsory in the exam!

The literature of Ancient Rome: over two years, candidates will have the chance to study two prose and two verse texts; this year's candidates have studied excerpts from Homer's Iliad Lysias' Against Simon, Sophocles' Antigone and Plato’s Phaedo.

Unseen Translation: a combination of prose and verse unseen translations (the latter includes two lines of scansion) 

Prose Composition OR Comprehension: students will either translate a passage of English into Greek or tackle a passage of unseen prose text through comprehension, translation and questions on syntax and accidence 

Prose Literature: students will study two prose texts in detail (either both from same author or from two different authors). They will also shady additional literature in translation in order to understand the context from which the set texts have been taken

Verse Literature: students will study two verse texts in detail (either both from same author or from two different authors). They will also study additional literature in translation in order to understand the context from which the set texts have been taken 

Entry requirements

A minimum of a grade A at GCSE Greek is required. 


External Assessment - all exams will be taken at the end of the U6th.

Unseen Translation: 1 hour and 45 minutes (33%).

Prose Composition OR Comprehension:  -1 hour and 15 minutes (17%).

Prose Literature:  2 hours (25%).

Verse Literature:  2 hours (25%). 

Future opportunities

The Classics department at Brentwood School is one of the largest in the UK and has a thriving extra-curricular life. We take an annual overseas trip to Italy, Greece or Turkey, visit theatres, museums and lectures, and hold activities at school for pupils of all ages. These activities include visiting speakers, play readings, and the Dionysia evening of Classical entertainment. 

As a Sixth Form Greekist, you can get involved in as few or as many of these as you wish. You can attend the Senior Classics society, and help to organise, advertise and run events; you can come on our trips; you can also help with the Junior Classics Society and help with Classics further down the School. 

Anything and everything is possible. Since Classics and Classical Civilisation degrees are so well-respected by future employers, students tend to gravitate toward the professions: accountancy, law, banking, teaching, journalism, publishing and arts generally.

A previous Brentwood student, who went on to study Classics at university and is now a banister in London, writes:

Classicists develop a wide variety of skills that are highly valued by employers. Translation skills demonstrate lateral thinking, and the breadth of a Classics degree demonstrates that you can deal with different challenges. Employers value the subject: It is still regarded as a prestigious degree that requires intellect and hard work. You can't pigeon-hole a Classicist: they can be found in all walks of life, from investment banking, law and PR to opera or publishing.

Another Classics graduate, who works in media, says:

One of the most useful things I learned which I use every day is the ability to edit, which I learned from translating English to Latin and Greek. Greek and Latin are not verbose unlike modem languages and when you translate them, you have to think about how to express yourself using the smallest and yet most precise words. Everyday, I write scripts for television and think 'how can I fit what I'm trying to say in the ten second gap I've got?' and then my education kicks in and I manage to nail it.

Further information

 A wide range of courses involving Classical Greek is delivered by UK and overseas universities. A Classics' course is the usual one, which involves study of Latin and Greek language and literature alongside the study of the art, history, linguistics and philosophy of the Classical world. This breadth of study is fascinating for the student and produces graduates with a broad range of skills.  For this reason a degree in Classics is very highly respected by future employers. 

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Brentwood School directly.

Last updated date: 22 December 2016

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