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Classical Civilization A Level at Woodbridge School

Course description

At AS there are two units:

1. Greek Sculpture and Architecture

A study of the ‘Greek Revolution’, 150 years which transformed western art forever and during which architectural styles were developed in Greece which became fundamental to building design for the next two millennia.

2. The Odyssey

The second work of western literature (after the Iliad), the story of Odysseus, the Trojan War, the Wooden Horse, and the hero’s return from Troy to his wife and son is an eternally popular adventure story. We study why this text has become a classic, and we explore key themes such as justice and revenge, leadership and heroism, marriage and fidelity, the divine and human responsibility.

A2 candidates take AS and then two further units:

3. Greek Tragedy

Four tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides are studied in relation to their original performances in the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens in the fifth century BC. Based on stories from Greek mythology, Athenian tragedy presents larger-than-life characters and explores powerful tensions within relationships, especially family relationships, within strict genre conventions.

4. Roman Epic

On the surface, Vergil’s Aeneid tells of the adventures of the Trojan prince Aeneas who sails to Italy with other refugees from Troy in order to found the city which will one day become Rome. However, uniquely, Vergil’s epic poem represents both an expression of the history and imperial values of Roman society under the emperor Augustus, and also a universal expression of sympathy for the downtrodden and defeated.

Entry requirements

Classical civilisation has no specific entry requirements. It is open to all students who have an interest in, or who want to learn, about the literature and culture of the classical Greek and Roman worlds. There is an element of essay writing, so an ability to express knowledge and understanding in writing is helpful. Everything is read in English – there is no need for any knowledge of Latin or Greek.


AS units consist of two 1 hour 30 minutes written papers worth 65 marks.

A2 units consist of two 1 hour 30 minutes written papers worth 75 marks.

Future opportunities

Classical civilisation combines well with English literature, religious studies, history and Latin, or could provide a contrast with other subjects (e.g. sciences) in order to broaden one’s education. If you have been successful at classical civilisation, you will have proved that you can enter upon a new area of study and learn the technical vocabulary and skills that are appropriate to it. You will have shown that you can write clearly and express complex ideas in a concise, logical and well-organized way. Classical civilisation could lead on to a degree in classical studies, ancient history, archaeology, or English at university. It may well be of interest to students considering architecture. Many doors will be open, and the skills developed through this course will be applicable in a range of employment areas, while your knowledge of Greek and Roman culture will always remain with you.

Further information

Lessons on Greek sculpture and architecture involve learning new skills of observation and analysis, and applying this within a historical narrative of development. Visual material can be viewed in class using photographs and plans, but there will also be two trips to the British Museum and the Cambridge Museum of Classical Archaeology to see key works of art in the round. Literary set texts are studied through independent and class reading. Exam-style questions and essays are set regularly. Your teachers will ensure that you know and can recall the core facts relevant to your topics. However, once this is done, class discussion and debate always form an enjoyable aspect of this course.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 03 April 2017
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