What is Classical Civilisation?

Classical Civilisation is a broad course that mixes art, literature and politics and gives students an in-depth understanding of the mindset and realities of Greek and Roman society. Students are encouraged to build skills in literary analysis, historical interpretation, and understanding of cultural analysis. Students also develop an understanding of how we find out about and assess beliefs, through study of people in the distant past and thinking about the role of the written record as compared with artefacts and objects.

How is it studied?

Classical Civilisation is taught in small groups and students are given the opportunity to build sound subject knowledge as the course develops. Tutors then encourage students to explore and use this knowledge in class debate, and in analysing evidence and other interpretations of the past. This means that students are constantly encouraged to both build on their knowledge and to challenge it by being offered alternative perspectives and interpretations. Essays, source analysis, and interpretation all form part of the overall assessment and these skills are built throughout the course so that students are well prepared for AS or the full A Level.

How is A Level Classical Civilisation assessed?

Unit Modules Weighting Format
The World of the Hero Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid 40% External Exam 2 hrs 20 mins
Culture and the Arts One option from choice of four 30% External Exam: 1 hr 45 mins
Beliefs and Ideas One option from choice of four 30% External Exam: 1 hr 45 mins


Exam Board: OCR

What do I need?

There is no specific requirement for Classical Civilisation. However, students need to recognise that the syllabus requires them to develop a wide range of skills as well as developing the ability to interpret literature, history, art, and beliefs. As such, students need to have an interest in a broad range of cultural issues and to be aware of the role of written materials and objects in helping us interpret societies.

What should I study with Classical Civilisation?

Classical Civilisation is a good addition to many other subjects. Some students will add other humanities subjects, classical languages (Greek or Latin) or social sciences. However, an interest in Classical Civilisation cuts across the full range of disciplines and many students have successfully combined it with Mathematics and Sciences.

What can I do with A Level Classical Civilisation?

Classical Civilisation at A Level is a widely accepted course and many universities see it as showing that a student can work and think independently. The breadth of Classical Civilisation and range of areas covered mean that it can support applications for law, politics, philosophy, and business as well as more creative courses in literature, film, media, or art. It can also support Science applications, as it shows a different way of thinking and the ability to argue at length in essay format.

Questions about the course

Can I take Classical Civilisation in one year?

It is possible, but students need to be aware that the range of skills required in the final exam make it a major task to complete the course in just 12 months.