Latin and Classical Greek

What is A-Level Latin and Classical Greek?

These subjects offer a unique opportunity to discover the culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans by reading original literature in the original language! Forget about learning a language just for the grammar and vocabulary tests!

This is what makes studying Latin or 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.

You will see inside the minds of historians, poets, orators and philosophers: Cicero delivering a blistering attack on Marcus Antonius,  giving us an insight into the anarchic times leading to the fall of the Roman Republic; the poems of Horace and Ovid where each poet is very different – satire and love poetry provide plenty of scope for discussion.

Greek literature ranges over Socrates’s final days before his execution as recorded by Plato, Xenophon’s account of his march through Persian territory, Homer’s description of Achilles’ reaction to the news of Patroclus’ death, and Medea’s terrible act of revenge through the killing of her own sons.

What you'll do

The new specification consists of four units for A level.

The Latin A Level consists of:

  • Unseen Translation [100 marks] [1h 45m][33%] Translation of a prose and a verse passage from Latin to English. Livy and Ovid 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 Latin, or translate approximately 100 words from English into Latin. 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  further reading in English. Cicero, Philippic II (his attack on Marcus Antonius) and Apuleius, Metamorphoses V.
  • Verse Literature [75 marks] [2 hours][25%] This follows the same model as the Prose Literature. Horace, Satires I and Ovid, Amores II

The Classical Greek A level consists of:

  • Unseen Translation [100 marks] [1h 45m][33%] Translation of a prose and a verse passage from Latin to English. Xenophon and Euripides 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 Latin, 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. Plato Phaedo and Xenophon Anabasis are the current set texts.
  • Verse Literature [75 marks] [2 hours][25%] This follows the same model as the Prose Literature. Homer, Iliad XVIII and Euripides, Medea 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 2020 and 2021

We follow the OCR specification. See their website for further details and sample exam papers for Latin and for <ahref=”https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-classical-greek-h044-h444-from-2016/”>Classical Greek.

Whom does this subject suit?

You can really only consider Latin or Classical Greek A level if you have already got grade 5 or higher at GCSE or equivalent. If you did Latin or 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. Both are subjects which are well-respected by universities; studying them 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 either language 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. 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!