History (Ancient)


This is a course which aims to promote a broad and in-depth understanding of Greek and Roman history, including an appreciation of the continuing significance of these important civilisations for the present day.

The focus of this course is on ancient primary sources and this course differs in approach from the other three options for History. As one of your three A level choices this is an exciting and challenging way to explore historical texts and ideas. Ancient History is a subject that can be helpful to any student and can usefully be studied in combination with any arts subject. Students may study Ancient History alongside English and/or Politics, for example. The subject can also give greater breadth to the academic portfolio of students studying predominately science subjects.

Exam questions come in the form of essays addressing the evaluative skills of source analysis and historical interpretation. Strong written and literacy skills are needed for the course and assessments. Staff are highly qualified with extensive experience delivering the curriculum. We have very good links with higher education institutes and members of staff who support students with their university applications.

We offer many trips and visits which are directly associated with the subject matter studied. Throughout your course of study, you will be fully supported in and outside the classroom by the department’s staff.


In the first year, students will study the Classical periods of Greek (5thC BCE – the Persian Wars to the Peloponnesian War) and Roman history (1st and 2ndC CE – the Julian-Claudian Emperors). In the second year we focus on Roman Britain and Spartan politics and society. The College is built on the site of the capital of Roman Britain and has as part of its perimeter the Roman Wall. You may be familiar with the strange, fascinating and hegemonic culture of Classical Sparta from the film 300. We will study the nature and limitations of historical evidence from the ancient world and how it can be used to support logical arguments. Students will develop an understanding of historical debates as well as concepts such as change, continuity, causation, consequence and significance.


  • Compulsory Component 1: Greek History. For the compulsory period study, students focus on the relations between Greek states, and Greek states and non-Greek states from 492 to 404 BC. This period covers the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens. It also features the birth of History as a discipline with detailed study of the first and arguably greatest historians, Herodotus and Thucydides.
  • Compulsory Component 2: Roman History. For the compulsory period study, students focus on the turbulent, vivid and dramatic reigns of the first Roman Emperor and his Julio-Claudian successors Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. This era represents the height of Roman power.



Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving a satisfactory grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.


• Depth Study 1: The politics and society of Sparta, 478—404 BC Sparta became the most powerful Greek city state (polis) in the 6th Century. In the 5thC BC, studied here, this strange society moved from fighting shoulder to shoulder with Athens at the Battle of Plataea (480BC) to all-out war with them (431-404BC). We will study Spartan society, values and the nature of the Spartan Constitution and why their decline became inevitable. We will study the reality of Sparta as well as the ‘Spartan Mirage’.

• Depth Study 2: Ruling Roman Britain, AD 43—c.128. In 43BC, the new Emperor Claudius began the conquest of Britain. In 60/61AD, the conquered British under Boudicca fought back and destroyed Roman Colchester, leaving a subterranean layer of destruction still visible throughout the modern town. The Romans consolidate their power and by 128AD have built Hadrian’s Wall.


Standard College entry requirements and a minimum of:

Grade required Subject required

Grade 5

In one of either GCSE English Language, English Literature, Religious Studies or Sociology


Grade 5

GCSE History (if taken)


if GCSE History has not been taken

Grade 5

in a second GCSE subject from the list above

Please note that students cannot take two History options – Ancient and Modern for example. Nor can they take both Classical Civilisation and Ancient History, as there is significant overlap between the two subjects, EXCEPT if the student is studying 4 A Levels – only students with high GCSE grades can take both Ancient History and Classical Civilisation.


History is a highly regarded arts qualification. Many of our students go on to study it at university. Teaching and postgraduate research are obvious career options. In addition, many historians go on to train for professions such as the law or accountancy.


To be successful you will need to enjoy reading and have sound written skills.  The department has well developed support materials which are available through the college’s virtual learning environment (Moodle). There is also an extensive collection of history books in the College Library.