Name of Qualification: Classical Civilisation
Examination Board: OCR
How is the course assessed?
Greek Theatre 1 hour 45 minutes, 30%
Greek Religion 1 hour 45 minutes, 30%
The World of the Hero 2 hours 20 minutes, 40%
There are no specific subjects for GCSE which need to be taken in advance and GCSE Classical Civilisation is not needed to take up the study of the subject at A Level. Whilst there are no set minimum grade requirements, this is a reading and essay subject with the inclusion of literary and visual sources and would particularly suit those who enjoy English Literature, Drama, Art, History, History of Art and Religious Studies as well as Latin and Classical Greek.
Mathematical skill required?
Why study Classical Civilisation?
- To read some of the greatest literature in Western civilisation which has shaped and formed our own literature
- To study some of the finest art and its techniques in Western civilisation, again which has shaped and formed our own
- To develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, the literary, historical and cultural features of the ancient world
- To apply analytical and evaluative skills to the text, to make an informed and personal response to the material studied, and to develop a sensitive and analytical approach to language and literature generally
Greek Theatre – The drama produced in the
ancient Greek theatre forms some of the most powerful literature of the ancient world, and has
had a profound and wide-reaching influence on modern culture.
To fully understand this cultural phenomenon requires study of not only the plays but the context in which their form and production developed. To develop this understanding this component involves the study of the physical theatre space used by the Greeks to stage their dramas, and also depictions of this staging in the visual/material record.
This study of the production of Greek drama is coupled with an in–depth study of three plays, all of which have proven to be enduring favourites. The themes and concepts explored by these plays are of significant relevance and interest to the modern audience as well as that of the original performance.
The plays and material culture included in the specification provide learners with a range of interesting sources which will allow them to explore, evaluate and understand this aspect of ancient culture and its relevance to us today.
Greek Religion – Religion was an essential part of ancient Greek identity, permeating all strata of society and all aspects of an individual’s daily life. Religion could be connected to the household, to life in the city or life in the countryside; moreover politics and religion were intertwined to the extent that political decisions were sometimes made on the basis of divine oracular intervention. Religion was also an important tool for the creation of local and Panhellenic identities, as well as of competition between the Greek city-states. Studying the practicalities of religious ritual, and the role it played in society, alongside the functions and layout of famous temple complexes, will make this component tangible for learners and help develop their sense
of the central role religion played in the life of everyday people.
Learners will also explore the nature of the gods and their relationship with mortals. Key to this is the depiction of the gods by Homer and Hesiod, whom Herodotus credited with giving the Greeks their first understanding of the characters and responsibilities of the gods. Also included are the very different roles played by Mystery Cults, and the tensions caused by the rise of philosophical thinking.
The World of the Hero – The poems of Homer were considered by the Greeks themselves to be a foundation of Greek culture, standing as they do at the beginning of the Western literary canon.
This component provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate the lasting legacy of these works and to explore their attitudes and values. The epics of Homer, with their heroes, gods and exciting narratives, have been in continuous study since their conception, and remain popular with learners and teachers today. For the first year we will be studying Homer’s Iliad which tells the story of the famous quarrel between the famous Greek heroes Achilles and Agamemnon during the Trojan War.
This component also provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate Virgil’s Aeneid, a cornerstone and landmark in Western literature. Drawing inspiration from Homer, as well as from his own cultural and political context, Virgil explored what it was to be a hero in the Roman world and created a work which has proven enduringly popular. We will read this text during the second year of study.
Pupils will also be eligible for our Classics trip which tends to run once every two years; In 2014 we visited Athens and Delphi in Greece, in 2016 we explored Rome, and discussions are currently in place for our next trip.
What subjects can I take with Classical Civilisation and what career could this lead to?
As well as any degrees with Classical content, Classical Civilisation is also very complementary to any text-based subject such as English Literature and humanity subjects such as History, Politics, History of Art and Religious Studies. Because it provides a rich selection of subjects within its three modules, it would also suit those pursuing degrees in Art, Drama, Philosophy, Languages and many more. The knowledge learned will equip the pupil for any number of Classical and non-Classical courses at university and it is no surprise that many institutions are offering Classics taster courses to students studying European and British culture, History and Literature so that they can appreciate their subject in more depth. In terms of careers, a degree or A Level in a Classical subject does not limit one’s choice of jobs and they are highly valued by prospective employers.