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Classical Civilisation A level at Esher College

Course description

Classical Civilisation is concerned with the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds. As a result of this the subject covers an enormous range of diverse disciplines: the history, literature, politics, philosophy, art and architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans are all investigated at various stages of the course.

This course will teach you research skills and how to select and evaluate relevant literary, cultural or historical sources. The course will also develop your essay writing skills through teaching you how to analyse, evaluate and interpret a range of different material, including primary classical sources, whether texts in translation or physical evidence.

Course content

In the first year you will study Greek Tragedy, analysing the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the most famous tragedians of Ancient Athens. By investigating the plays in their cultural context, you will be able to explore how, in the hands of ancient playwrights, the darkest of themes (cannibalism, murder, incest and infanticide) were used to examine political issues.

In the first year you will also study Homer's Odyssey, the epic poem which chronicles the adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus, 'the man of many twists and turns', as he struggles to return to his island home after the Trojan War. Through focused literary analysis of textual episodes, you will investigate the cultural values of Greek society reflected through Homer's world of gods and monsters.

In the second year of the course you will broaden your understanding of the Greek world by examining its physical remains – the temples, statues and ceramics produced during 600-300BC. You will analyse the formal qualities of Greek Art and the political, philosophical, and religious ideas which it embodies.

In the second unit you will investigate the different concepts of heroism embodied in the two greatest literary works of antiquity, Virgil's Aeneid and Homer's Iliad. In this unit you will be able to compare the splendid individualism of Achilleus with the socially responsible Aeneas as a reflection of the transition from Homeric values to those idealised by a new Augustan era.

Entry requirements

You do not need knowledge of the Greek or Latin languages to study this course, as all texts are in translation. You do not need any previous knowledge of the subject either: all that is required is an interest in the Ancient Greeks and Romans. 

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

Aside from the general entry criteria that the College requires, you will also need a grade 4 in GCSE English Language

If you do not have a grade 4 in GCSE Maths and you qualify to follow a study programme at the College, you will be required to retake the subject in your first year. 


There is no coursework. Assessment in both years is by two written exams (one for each of the units). 

Future opportunities

The study of Classical Civilisation encourages you to develop the critical and evaluative skills which will enable you to study a wide range of disciplines in Higher Education. It will not only prepare you for Classics or Ancient History at university, but will enhance your understanding of English Literature, History, Philosophy, Politics or Art.

Further information

Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed. The current information reflects what is known about the new course and further details will be available on the website when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Esher College directly.

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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