Classical Civilisation and Latin

Curriculum Leader:

Mr J Carlyle

Department Introduction:

Why choose Classical Civilisation?


Classical Civilisation is a wide-ranging subject, covering literature, art and history.  It will help you develop your essay-writing and communication skills, as it requires a detailed analysis of the texts studied as well as clarity of expression and the ability to develop a well-structured and convincing argument.


It complements all Arts subjects, and also gives scientists variety and a more balanced curriculum.


What will I study?


We follow the OCR syllabus.  This consists of two modules for AS level and two further modules for A2.



  • Module 1: The Odyssey of Homer – a critical study of selected books of one of the most fascinating and influential texts of literature, looking at the social and cultural context of this epic tale with some references to history and archaeology.
  • Module 2: Greek Tradegy - We examine what 'tragedy' really means, the fall of the great from their own mistakes, reading the work of the best of the Greek tragedians: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.



  • Module 1: Art and Architecture in the Greek World – a study of major temples and sanctuaries (Athens and Olympia, for example) and the development of sculpture and vase-painting in Ancient Greece, with references to Greek society and religion.
  • Module 2: Virgil and the world of the hero – a critical study of selected books of Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad, focussing on the literary context and historical, social and political themes.

Department Aims:

Key Stage 3:

Classics and Latin - Years 8 - 9


It may not seem immediately obvious why it is important to do Latin. So why is it one of the most popular options at WGHS? Most importantly, our students find it highly enjoyable and secondly, it gives them an enormous head start in terms of literacy, understanding of western culture and in learning modern languages.


All girls start Latin in Year 8 and then study the subject until Year 9.  During the course of Year 9, girls are given the choice of opting for Latin.   We use the Cambridge Latin Course, which guides pupils through the language with ease, helping them to find out about life at Pompeii, in Roman Britain and Alexandria.


Recent trips in Year 9 have included Bath Spa, Chedworth Roman Villa and the Corinium museum in Cirencester.

We believe in using a wide range of approaches, including drama and role-play.  We enjoy ourselves immensely and so do our students – but don’t take our word for it:


Here's what the girls themselves have said about studying Latin in years 8- 9:


Year 8


  • "The background topics are my favourite aspect and I also enjoyed doing translations into English."
  • "I have enjoyed learning the new words and finding out the Latin words for English words. The course is about a man called Caecilius and you follow the story of his life meeting people like barbers and merchants on the way."
  • "I think the course is good at making you understand the basics and then goes at a steady pace ensuring you understand everything."
  • "It's a fun, interesting course and an opportunity to learn about Rome and Pompeii plus how people lived in the past."
  • "I have liked gladiators and death!"
  • "I found it quite difficult and challenging to begin with, although once you get used to the tenses and vocabulary it gets much easier."
  • "The Latin course was thoroughly enjoyable; it gets harder as you move on. There are fun, interesting translations and tenses are hard to grasp at first but when you know them they are fairly easy." 


Year 9


  • "I particularly like the work on Cogidubnus' Palace."
  • "I enjoyed using the CLC website to learn vocabulary and play on vocabulary quizzes."
  • "I like researching the background and finding out how (Latin) contributes to the English language. (It was) very useful for understanding the background of English work."
  • "I liked studying Roman medicine and making a PowerPoint presentation."
  • "The Latin course offers a wide range of different aspects. It contains different units with exercises, translations, vocabulary and grammar and we can learn the language step by step and have fun."
  • "You can see how Latin is the father of European languages."
  • "You need to be enthusiastic as it is hard work!"
  • "An interesting, fun course. There are some difficult parts and it's not easy to learn endings for verbs."

Key Stage 4:

Latin GCSE


At present we follow the OCR GCSE course.  This consists of four papers assessed by examination, each one worth 25% of the whole qualification:


  • Unit 1: Latin Language 1 (Mythology and domestic life)
  • Unit 2: Latin Language 2 (History)
  • Unit 3: Latin Prose Literature
  • Unit 4: Latin Verse Literature


GCSE students have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the literature and to gain an insight into the cultural and historical context, whilst building on their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.


The uptake for Latin GCSE has been particularly good in recent years, and we currently have 70 girls studying GCSE Latin.


There is a trip to Chester in Year 10, while Year 11 pupils recently had the opportunity to go on a school residential trip to Rome and Sorrento.


Here are some of the comments written by GCSE pupils:


  • “The trip to Chester was amazing, I really enjoyed it!”
  • “You get more grammar notes, so language work gets easier.”
  • “You follow the stories of the characters, you can see them grow and develop, it’s great!”
  • “The background section is really interesting.”
  • “The lessons are varied in terms of presentation and activities.”
  • “It is easier to translate because you understand how the grammar works.”
  • “It also helps learning vocabulary in other languages because it’s similar.”
  • “It’s fun!”

Key Stage 5:

Classics and Latin - Sixth Form


What can I do with an A' level in Latin?


  • Employers and universities are always impressed by pupils who have studied Latin because it encourages you to think logically and solve problems.
  • It complements well the study of Modern Languages, English and History, as well as being very useful for the study of Law and Medicine.
  • Careers in teaching, library, museum and archive work can follow a degree in Latin, but it is also a most useful foundation for a law career, banking, accountancy, management and other careers and professions.


What will I study?


The course is varied, stimulating and entertaining, containing the same elements as GCSE, but in greater depth.  Literature is studied in its social context and the language element builds on the grammar learnt at GCSE.


AS Latin (OCR)


Two modules, language and literature, are taught.  Each is worth 50% of the examination and 25% of the total A Level.

The language paper consists of one compulsory passage of unseen translation into English and a choice between simple translation into Latin and a short translation into English from another work by the author of the prose set text.

In literature, two texts, one poetry (Ovid) and one prose (Cicero) will be taught.


A2 Latin (OCR)


Two modules, prose and verse, will be taught.


  • In the prose paper an unseen range is set, requiring translation, comprehension and grammatical knowledge along with passage set for commentary from a prose set text (Tacitus).
  • For verse, an unseen passage is set, requiring translation, comprehension and literary comment.  In addition, passages will be set from a selection of Catullus’ poems requiring literary comment and an essay on a literary theme.

Extra-Curricular Activities:

Visits are undertaken to a variety of places such as the British Museum in London and study days in London and Birmingham have been attended by students in recent years. Our 6th form students recently had the opportunity to go on a school residential trip to Rome and Sorrento.


Sixth form Latin students recently had the opportunity to go a school residential trip to Italy and visited Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Sorrento and Capri.  Some of the pictures are now on our VLE website as well. There are also opportunities to attend study days connected with the A Level specification.Over the last few years some girls have had the opportunity to attend Latin summer schools and courses at Villiers Park.