Why should I study Classic Civilisation?

Classics with no Latin! Classical Civilisation is the study of the civilisations of ancient Greece and Rome, especially their history, literature, philosophy and art. As such it is the only A-level course which lets you study the same subject from these three different angles. The Greeks and Romans invented our concepts of politics, Empire, science, poetry, drama, and philosophy, and their greatest minds still speak to all of us, regardless of accidents like where or when we happen to be born. Whatever you study at university you will keep coming up against these remarkable peoples. Classical Civilisation is highly regarded by universities for its multidisciplinary approach and core knowledge base. Everything is studied in English translation, so no knowledge of Greek or Latin, or even Classical Civilisation GCSE (which is not even offered at Chigwell) is required, and the languages do not form part of the course.

We are an active department, with talks and trips throughout the year, strong use of ICT, with a good library.

A high percentage of our Classical Sixth-formers go on to study the ancient world at university, including at Oxford and Cambridge.

What skills will I gain?

You can see from the above that Classical Civilisation involves a combination of literature (including a lot of drama), history, art/archaeology and philosophy, so there are significant benefits to be gained from studying it alongside subjects such as English, Drama, History and Government & Politics. It really helps you understand the origins of many of the concepts you will find in these subjects.

Classical Civilisation also has strong connections with Art and Religious Studies, and the benefits of studying it with Latin or Greek are obvious. In lessons you are given all you need to be able to read the ancient texts and historical material for yourself, and then discuss your reactions to them, developing your understanding of how the literature or the history fits together. These skills, in particular the sequence of research, analysis, and the presentation of complex thoughts and arguments in writing, are what most jobs will require you to do.

Lastly, the myths themselves are life-changing. Genetically we are no different from ancient peoples, and in our lives we encounter the same challenges and dilemmas: this literature helps us deal with them.

What will I learn?

Students study three topics. Firstly, the World of the Hero – Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid.

These epics ask, and suggest answers to, the great questions of what it is to be a hero, what it is to be a citizen, and what it is to live in the shadow of death. Secondly, Greek Theatre – comedy and tragedy. These amazingly raw yet sophisticated plays were written to teach, as much as entertain, and still have their original force. Set texts are Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Euripides’ Bacchae and Aristophanes’ Frogs. Thirdly, Love & Relationships – a study of ancient societies, the ideas of Plato and Seneca, and the love poetry of Sappho and Ovid. Here we look at ancient and modern ideas of love, marriage, gender and sexuality.

Entry requirements

An 8 grade at GCSE English Literature or a similar subject would be useful for this subject, but, we would like to repeat: no GCSE in Classical Civilisation, Latin or Greek is required.

Examination Board: OCR

Mr C J Lord
Head of Department