Classical Civilisation


Classical Civilisation offers a dynamic insight into the worlds of Ancient Greece and Rome, the two civilisations which lie at the root of Western culture and influenced it like no other. The course is uniquely interdisciplinary, incorporating elements of literature, art, history, philosophy and several other subject areas. Students of the subject develop a range of skills, such as deductive reasoning, analysis and extended prose composition.

As a wide-ranging and rigorous course, Classical Civilisation can be combined very effectively with other subject choices to provide students with a strong academic portfolio. Students focusing on arts subjects will find that Classical Civilisation can strengthen their understanding and appreciation of a large number of topics and concepts. The subject is also a natural choice for science students seeking to study a course which will broaden their scope and touch on a range of other disciplines.

Our department’s staff are highly qualified and have extensive experience in delivering the curriculum. A number of us work as examiners.

The department offers trips and visits which are directly associated with the subject matter studied.

We have very good links with higher education institutes and with staff who are tasked to support students with their UCAS applications.

Students of Classical Civilisation often look to study associated subjects at university. There are many degrees with classical content, including Classics (which is offered in a range of forms), Ancient History and Archaeology.


The course consists of three modules, studied over two years:

The World of the Hero – This module explores The Iliad, the earliest text in Western literature and undoubtedly one of the greatest. Its central theme is the anger of Achilles, a mighty warrior whose refusal to fight in the legendary Trojan War threatens the Greek army with humiliating defeat. It is a story of human failure and human glory, enlivened by the rivalries and meddling influences of the gods. As a second-year text, students study The Aeneid, the grand and eloquent Roman response to The Iliad and a powerful statement of Roman achievements. Students study a large range of the themes articulated in these texts, such as heroism, mortality and the role of divine powers. They also consider how effects are created and how cultural context explains the content of the stories.

Greeks and Barbarians – At the core of this module (Invention of the Barbarian) is the study of the process by which the Greeks created the concept of the barbarian. Few other concepts have had such a deep and devastating influence on the course of Western history. Through close analysis of classical histories, plays and artistic sources, students explore how the Greeks perceived themselves as different from, and superior to, other peoples, including the Persians and the mythical Amazons. The topic has very powerful resonances with some of the deepest issues in society today.

Gods, Cults and Religion – The course’s third module (Greek Religion) explores the Greeks’ relationship with their gods. Long after Christianity obscured the cults of the ‘old’ gods, their influence was keenly felt in Western art and literature – and still is. Students study not only the well-known Olympian gods and the myths associated with them, but also Greek rituals, cults and places of worship. They assess the role of religion in society and the influence of philosophical developments on religious beliefs. The module thus offers a thoroughgoing evaluation of the place of religion in Ancient Greece, as well as an effective introduction to Greek philosophical thought. 


Standard College entry requirements and a minimum of:

Grade required Subject required

Grade 5

GCSE English Language or English Literature


Grade 5

In at least one predominantly written based GCSE subject (from English Language, English Literature, History, Religious Studies or Sociology) 



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 at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.


Classical Civilisation is a rigorous and highly-regarded arts qualification. Many of our students go on to study related courses at university. Teaching and postgraduate research are obvious career options for those who want to work directly with the classical material, but classics degrees also prepare students for a very wide range of other career paths. Many classicists go on to train for professions such as the law or accountancy. Companies are often ready to employ people with classics qualifications in administrative and managerial roles.


Students will be given the opportunity to purchase the texts which are the basis of study in both years. To be successful in Classical Civilisation, 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 online learning environment. There is also an extensive collection of Classics books in the College’s library.