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History (Ancient) AS & A Level at Durham Sixth Form Centre

Course description

The course, for which no previous knowledge is expected, is designed for those who enjoy the study of History and wish to pursue this through some of History’s most exciting periods and texts. The Spartans, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great; Nero, Rome, and Athens; murder, conquest, incest and politics: the subject of Ancient History is people, places, and behaviours which have shaped the modern World.

Course content

The AS course consists of two wide-ranging studies to open up the history and themes of the Ancient World. It looks in Greece at how the hundreds of tiny city states of Greece bonded together to face the threat of the Persian Empire—a vast power covering territory from Egypt to Turkey and from the Mediterranean to Pakistan. It explores how their impossible victory first laid the foundations for Athens as the original democracy, and then for decades of war between Sparta and Athens.
The Roman side of the course explores how the Roman Empire was formed by the first dynasty of Roman emperors ranging from the astonishing political genius of Augustus, through the megalomaniac cruelty and instability of Caligula and Nero.

The A2 course consists of two detailed studies, which are to be chosen across Greece and Rome and will include firstly, Philip and Alexander the Great and the rise of Macedon and wars of conquest in Persia, bringing aspects of the Ancient History of the Middle-East (Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq), into the course. Secondly the fall of the Roman Republic and the terrible Civil Wars which culminated in the clashes between Caesar and Pompey, and Augustus and Marc Antony sweeping a bevy of colourful figures towards their annihilation: Caesar, Cleopatra, Cicero, Sulla, Livia

Both options involve looking at a very wide range of sources: written, archaeological, inscriptions, coins, and modern interpretations of events and of key points of historical debate.

Entry requirements

There is no requirement for any ancient language, but the Department does regularly offer the chance to take up some Latin as a voluntary extra-curricular activity.

There are a range of courses and pathways available to you at Durham Sixth Form Centre depending on your GCSE results and academic profile. In order to enrol with us as a student, you must have the minimum of 5 A*-C GCSE grades (or equivalent). In addition, individual subjects have specific entry requirements, which will be discussed with you during the application and enrolment process. Students who do not achieve a grade C or above (or numerical equivalent) in GCSE English and/or mathematics will be required to continue studying these subjects at Durham Sixth Form Centre.

If you do not meet our entry requirements but are still keen to study at Durham Sixth Form Centre, please contact us to discuss your options.


The course is assessed by exams at the end of Year 12 and Year 13, with the A2 exams also covering all of the AS material.

Future opportunities

Students who have studied with the Classics Department in the past have taken up places at Cambridge, Durham and other prestigious universities across the country. Ancient History as an A-level is explicitly valued by admissions tutors.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Durham Sixth Form Centre directly.

Last updated date: 13 January 2017
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Key information


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    • Durham Sixth Form Centre is located in Durham City Centre next to Gala Square and Freeman’s Quay. We are a couple of minutes walk from both the bus station and the railway station. Our students enjoy having all of the city centre facilities, shops, restaurants, the city library, cinema and theatre on our doorstep. In the city itself, students find a host of lively cultural, social and educational advantages and facilities. The galleries, exhibitions, museums and book shops all play their part in enriching the student experience. A large public car-park is directly opposite and adjacent to Durham Sixth Form Centre’s main entrance.