Classical Civilisation

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Classical Civilisation develops the skills needed for A-level, undergraduate and postgraduate study. Students study a variety of subjects from literature and law, to politics, history and economics, in addition to mythology and philosophy. Rather than as separate subjects, they will develop an understanding of how these disciplines inter-relate in order to build an understanding regarding the culture of 8th – 4th century BCE Greece and 2nd century CE Roman Republic and Empire. The aim is for students to develop a better standard of critical judgement to prepare themselves for higher education and life after college.

Year 1

  • Greek Drama: we explore Greek theatre by reading two tragedies and a slapstick comedy. The playwrights use myths to explore important issues concerning relationships between men and women, family and society, the ruler and his people, human beings and the gods. This unit also involves the study of visual/material culture.
  • World of the Hero: we read Homer’s epic poem ‘The Iliad’, considering issues of love and revenge, honour and shame, heroism and suffering during the epic siege of Troy. As Achilles and the other humans count the cost, the immortal gods look down carefree from Mount Olympus.

Year 2

  • Love, conflict, sex, and relations in Greece and Rome: here, we explore the power of emotions with Plato, Seneca, Sappho and Ovid through their approaches to the pain and joy of desire.
  • We also read Virgil’s epic poem ‘The Aeneid’, to explore what it was to be a hero in the Roman world, including the moral values implicit in the text, such as duty to gods, state and family; the importance of fate and destiny.

The wonder of this subject is that is actually not one subject at all. It is the perfect cross-curriculum class, as it is essentially history, drama, literature, languages and politics all in one. This is certainly why I enjoy it; the variety keeps it fascinating and relatable to any subject or area you go on to study or work in.

May Spencer, ex Priory School

Course Essentials

Courses Available
A Level
Entry Requirements
How The Course is Assessed
100% exam
Career Pathways
Many students progress to degree courses in Classics/Classical Civilisation. It is also excellent preparation for degrees in Literature, History, Politics, Philosophy, Law and Drama/Theatre Studies. It is widely recognised as highly beneficial for a huge variety of career paths including journalism, banking, politics and academia.
Transferable Skills
Students are able to contextualise complex source material; develop analytical and evaluative skills expressing themselves with purpose, clarity and confidence.
Other Information
Each year there is a trip to Rome or Athens. There are also opportunities for visits to plays, workshops and talks.
Enquiries To
Carole Geerts: csg@varndean.ac.uk
Conor Muldoon: cpm@varndean.ac.uk