What is A-Level Classical Greek?
This subject offers a unique opportunity to discover the culture of the ancient Greeks by reading original literature in the original language. Forget about learning a language just for the grammar and vocabulary tests – though there will still be plenty of that! This is what makes studying Classical Greek at A-Level so rewarding. You will be going well beyond GCSE, developing your language skills and ability to read different genres and styles of writing. This is what makes studying Classical Greek at A-Level so rewarding.
Greek literature ranges from the historian Herodotus, and the biographer Plutarch as the prose authors to the tragedian Euripides, and Aristophanes, the comic poet. These authors provide a broad range of genres for literary analysis, and wide-ranging essays (on Plutarch and Aristophanes for which there is additional reading of the text in English). Additionally for the unseen translations, there will be reading from the authors Xenophon and Sophocles. The course aims to bring in further prose authors to prepare for the Comprehension paper.
What you'll do
The Classical Greek A-Level consists of:
- Unseen Translation [100 marks] [1h 45m][33%] Translation of a prose and a verse passage from Greek to English. Xenophon and Sophocles will be the authors from which the passages will be taken.
- Prose Composition or Comprehension [50 marks] [1h 15m][17%] Either answer questions on a prose passage in Greek, or translate approximately 100 words from English into Greek. These are based on any prose author
- Prose Literature [75 marks] [2 hours][25%] Two texts are studied with questions set on style and content; there is also an essay on ONE of the set texts and includes further reading in English. Herodotus, Histories and Plutarch, Life of Antony are the set texts.
- Verse Literature [75 marks] [2 hours][25%] This follows the same model as the Prose Literature. Euripides, Hippolytus, and Aristophanes, Frogs are the current set texts.
The new specification has been designed to offer students the opportunity to explore Roman writers and appreciate not only their style of writing but also the context in which these works were produced. Some parts of the set texts will be read in English translation.
These are the set texts for examination in 2025 and 2026.
We follow the OCR specification. See their website for further details and sample exam papers for Greek
Whom does this subject suit?
You can really only consider Classical Greek if you have already got grade 7 or higher at GCSE or equivalent. If you did Greek at GCSE and enjoyed it, then you can be sure you will enjoy working for the A-Level, as the format is much the same, though at a higher academic level. It is a subject which is well-respected by universities; studying it also provides the satisfaction of taking a language which few students learn. This is a subject for you if you are good at remembering vocabulary and want to understand the thoughts and intentions of the writers of the classical world.
What might the subject lead to?
A qualification in Classical Greek is rated highly by universities and can be useful to students proposing to follow a variety of different courses from Medicine, Law, Modern Languages, English as well as more traditional Classics and Ancient History. Recent students in this subject have gone on to read Classics, Oriental Languages, English, International Business with French, Modern Languages as well as Classical Civilisation with Philosophy at universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Reading and Warwick.
These languages do not limit you to any particular course but can be used as a stepping stone to courses in modern languages, linguistics, information technology and computing. Learners of classical languages are particularly adaptable!