top of page

Classical Civilisation and Latin

Curriculum Leader:

Mr J Carlyle

Department Introduction:

Key Stage 3 Latin - Years 7 - 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 7 and 8, then can opt to continue in Year 9 and for GCSE.


We use Cambridge Latin Course Book 1, meeting a typical family in an ordinary Roman town called Pompeii. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 shatters this ‘ordinary’ existence. We then move to Rome with Suburani Book 1, comparing and contrasting the lives of the city’s rich and poor. Both courses guide students through the language with ease, with a gradual introduction to vocabulary, grammar and translation.


Recent extra curricular activities in KS3 have included trips to Bath Spa and visiting speakers and workshops.


We believe in using a wide range of approaches, including drama and role-play. We enjoy ourselves immensely and so do our students. Here's what the girls themselves have said about studying Latin:

Department Aims:


Key Stage 3:

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 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:

At present we follow the Eduqas GCSE course. This consists of three papers assessed by examination:


  • Component 1: Latin Language (50%)
  • Component 2: Latin Literature and Sources (Themes) (30%)
  • Component 3B: Roman Civilisation (20%)


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 generally have around 50-75 girls studying Latin in each GCSE year.


Recent extra curricular activities in KS3 have included trips to Bath Spa, Chester and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.


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:

Key Stage 5 Latin – A level


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. We follow the OCR syllabus, which covers a number of aspects of the ancient world:


Modules 1 and 2: Language (each 25%)


The language papers consists of passages of unseen translation and comprehension into English. As preparation we read plenty of stories in original Latin taken from the great writers of the Roman world, such as the historian Livy and the epic story-teller Ovid.


Modules 3 and 4: Prose and Verse Literature (each 25%)


The literature papers enable us to study a theme or author in greater depth than was possible at GCSE. Often prose texts will be taken from the scandals of imperial history, for example the shocking behaviour of emperors like Tiberius, Caligula and Nero. Verse texts will focus on a genre of poetry; in recent years we have covered Ovid’s tongue-in-cheek love poems, Virgil’s epic tale the Aeneid, and Horace’s philosophy.


Key Stage 5 Classical Civilisation – A level


Classical Civilisation is ideal for lovers of stories! It is a wide-ranging subject, covering literature, art and history. It will help 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, which covers a number of aspects of the ancient world, focusing especially on Greek literature and culture:

Module 1: The World of the Hero


Homer’s Odyssey– a critical study of selected books from 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.

Virgil’s Aeneid– a critical study of selected books from the Aeneid, focussing on the literary context and historical, social and political themes.


Module 2: Greek Theatre


An examination of the impact of Greek drama on both a contemporary and a modern audience, identifying the meaning of 'tragedy' and ‘comedy’, through the work of Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. Using texts and archaeological evidence we try to recreate the atmosphere in a Greek theatre and understand the moral messages which Greek playwrights wanted to convey to their audiences.


Module 3: Greek Religion


Greek gods, goddesses and heroes – most of us can name a few of these, but what did they mean to the ancient Greeks? This module explores the importance of religion to Greek society, from the nature of mainstream worship in temples and sanctuaries to the cults and oracles that allowed a more personal experience of the divine, including a few cases where religion and philosophy crossed paths.

Extra-Curricular Activities:

Sixth form Latin students recently had the opportunity to go on 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.

bottom of page