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Classical Civilisation (AS/A Level) at New College Swindon

Course description

The course will introduce you to ancient Greek Civilisation through the study of works of literature.

This course will help you to:

  • develop an awareness of the many similarities between classical civilisation and our own
  • better understand how ancient spiritual, moral, and cultural values helped shape modern life
  • gain the ability to analyse critically and evaluate historical evidence in its context
  • learn about influential works of classical art and their enduring influence upon civilisation

The course focuses on reading, discussing and analysing some of the greatest literature of the Western World.  In each unit you will be required to read widely and produce essays reflecting your own study of the source material.

Course content

The AS Level course is divided into 2 units:

  • Aristophanes and Athens
  • Greek Epic: Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’

For A2 (A Level) you study:

  • The Persian Wars
  • Roman Epic: Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’

Each of the units requires you to read set literary texts and research more widely on historical and cultural themes.

Entry requirements

You should have a minimum of grade C in both English Language and English Literature at GCSE; grade B in English Literature is recommended.  You do not have to have History at GCSE.

You do not need to have any prior knowledge of the subject, but you should be interested in literature and history, be prepared to read extensively and willing to write essays.

No knowledge of Latin or Greek is necessary as all texts are studied in translation.  However, you need a willingness to learn and remember non-English names and places.


There are two 1½-hour exams for AS Level.  The papers combine shorter and longer questions on the set texts, giving an extract to provide you with some initial stimulus but expecting you to demonstrate knowledge of the text as a whole.

Questions will be about social and political contexts, dramatic and literary effectiveness, and interpretations of the texts’ meanings.

The two A2 units are also assessed by exams. You will need to demonstrate wider reading and draw from your study in AS Level.

Future opportunities

University classics graduates are very employable.  Recent statistics suggest that graduates in classical subjects have a better record of gaining employment than English students, and the same as those in a ‘vocational’ discipline like engineering.


Classics graduates are popular with employers not because they have got some specific training for a particular line of work, but because they have received a broad education which has developed skills needed in a wide range of careers – skills like critical thinking and textual analysis, fluent expression in writing, and the ability to synthesis and compare data from diverse sources.  Not to mention an appreciation of high culture!


AS/A Level Classical Civilisation combines well with a range of other subjects from foreign languages, English, Sociology, Government and Politics, History and Philosophy to Art and Photography.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 28 April 2016

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