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Classical Civilisation A Level at The Ashcombe School

Course description

Existing syllabus (AS counts towards overall A-level)

Why study the subject?

In A-level Classical Civilisation, you will learn to explore, analyse, criticise and interpret the achievements of the ancient and classical Greeks & Romans: their art, their literature, their drama, their religion and their concerns, appreciating their significant place in world history. Our studies will take us back to the Late Bronze Age and the age of the heroes; the 5th century BC Athenian empire; the early Roman Empire and the Augustan age of the first century AD. There are 4 units of study in total.

Course content


Unit F384: Greek tragedy in its context

You will study four plays by the three great poet/tragedians of the glorious 5th century BC Athenian empire: Agamemnon by Aeschylus; Antigone by Sophocles; Medea and Electra by Euripides. These remarkable plays were performed 2,600 years ago and still resonate today. You will put them into their historical, social and political context. We will study language use, dramatic technique, performance conventions and how war impacted upon literature. We will see how democracy and theatre emerged together and how these people developed one of the most extraordinary societies of all time.

Unit F384: Homer’s Odyssey and Society

Students will study the age of Homer through his epic tale of the great hero Odysseus and his travels through Greek mythology. Focus will be on the text (in translation) and will begin with the history of the Late Bronze age, the Trojan War and the Age of Heroes. Students will read the text as a piece of literature (recognised as the first in European history) and will also focus on the history of the era through archaeology and art. Students will study with a combination of literature and history skills and will learn to appreciate the literary forms and techniques which we still use today.



UNIT F390:

Virgil and the world of the hero: The Aeneid by Virgil and The Iliad by Homer.

The Aeneid: Books 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12.

The Iliad: Books 6, 18, 22 and 24.

Students will study selected books in the epic tales of Virgil and Homer; of the founding of Rome and the age of Augustus, from the fall of Mark Anthony at the Battle of Actium to the rise of Octavian and the Pax Romana. We will compare this to Homer’s Greek & Trojan heroes at the siege of Troy. Students will consider characterisation & technique and place both epics into their cultural worlds.

UNIT F389: Comic drama in the ancient world

Students will study two comedies from 5th century BC Athens and two from the growing Roman empire of the 2nd century BC: Aristophanes’ Clouds and Lysistrata and Plautus’ The Brothers Menaechmus and The Swaggering Soldier. The plays will be read and studied in their literary, social, historical and cultural contexts.



AS: 2 units examined by essay and context questions in June of your AS year

A2: 2 units examined by essay and context questions in June of your A2 year.

The exam papers will feature 10 mark, 20 mark, 25 mark and 45 mark questions.

All units demand critical skills of analysis and evaluation and will teach a clear essay writing style with strong individual interpretation. Students will learn to make judgements from original sources and apply their knowledge to specific questions. They will use examples to support reasoned conclusions.

NOTE: There is no coursework

Further information

The subject has been successfully studied in the past by both arts and science students; previous students have gone on to university to study History and Ancient History; English; Modern Languages; Law; Art; Architecture; Archaeology; Anthropology; Psychology; Philosophy; Maths and of course, Classics. We will visit the British Museum a couple of times a year and there is usually a European Classics trip at Easter.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 25 August 2016
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