A Level Classical Civilisation Course

Ashbourne has a long tradition of offering Classical subjects and providing courses that are tailored to suit the needs and interests of students, including those wishing to specialise in Latin or Ancient Greek. Students explore a wide selection of classical literature in translation for the A level Classical Civilisation course.

Why study A level Classical Civilisation?

A level Classical Civilisation students get to explore the ancient world through heroic tales, comic drama, Greek tragedy and art. You can hitch a ride with Homer’s Odysseus and Virgil’s Aeneas on their epic adventures as well as taking front row theatre seats to experience the drama and tragedy in plays by Aristophane, Menander and Plautus, and Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

Examining such ancient and classical civilisations reveals how Western culture, as we know it now, evolved particularly in relation to literature, art, politics, philosophy and theatre. So this is a great course for those also studying English, Drama, Politics, Philosophy, Art and History of Art.

Students on this course are encouraged to take advantage of what London has to offer to discover the ancient world through theatre, art and events including productions of ancient plays, British Museum visits as well as taking part in the annual Oxford and Cambridge Classics open days.

European trip

Every year Ashbourne students have the chance to visit a major European city, such as Rome, Athens, Madrid, Florence and Barcelona, during the Spring half term.  The trip is an extremely popular cultural experience and a great opportunity for A level Classical Civilisation students. It is also a real highlight of many students’ time at Ashbourne.

Beyond A level Classical Civilisation

A level Classical Civilisation can be combined with other Arts, Humanities and Social Studies subjects such as English, History, Art or Psychology and offers students an excellent foundation for many university courses.

Students of Classical Civilisation enjoy success in a huge variety of careers from journalism to accountancy, and from management to publishing.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the OCR specification for A level Classical Civilisation.

What is covered in the course?

Students will study a selection of ancient texts and explore their literary, social and historical contexts as well as examining the techniques playwrights employ to create tragedy and comedy.

AS level students examine one epic poem and three plays (units 1 and 2). A level students study two epic poems, three plays, and extracts from Sappho, Plato, Ovid and Seneca (units 3–4).

Unit 1: Homer’s The Odyssey and society
Following the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus begins an epic adventure to return home. The sea-god Poseidon and a myriad of monsters relentlessly hound him on his ten-year journey only for him to find his homeland besieged by his wife Penelope’s suitors.

Students will discuss Odysseus’ adventure and the context of society in Homer’s The Odyssey.

Unit 2: Greek tragedy in its context
Students explore plays by Sophocles and Euripides through text, screen or stage production and examine the literary, social and historical contexts as well as the tricks and techniques used to create dramatic effect.

Unit 3: Love and Relationships
How did the ancient world view love with all its ethical questions, its passions, frustrations and delights? Students will examine Greek and Roman society in the contrasting poetry of Sappho and Ovid, and the philosophy of Plato and Seneca.

Unit 4: Virgil and the world of the hero
Students get to experience the epic adventures in Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad and examine the world in which they are set and the role of the hero. The texts are read in translation.

Who teaches this course?

George Chaldezos

BA Hons (University of Thessaloniki); BA Hons (Cologne); PhD study (Cambridge); PGCE (London)

George teaches Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation, and has been head of Ashbourne’s Classics department since 2003. He is a member of the Association for Latin Teaching and is an assistant examiner for the OCR exam board and the Cambridge Pre-U.


AS level
Book 1: Aeschylus’ Agamemnon
The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides)
Aeschylus (Author), W. Stanford (Editor), Robert Fagles (Translator)

Book 2: Sophocles’ Antigone
The Three Theban Plays:Antigone‘, ‘Oedipus the King‘, ‘Oedipus at Colonus‘ (Penguin Classics) Sophocles (Author), Bernard Knox (Introduction), Robert Fagles (Translator)

Book 3: Euripides’ Medea and Electra
Medea and Other Plays: Medea; Hecabe; Electra; Heracles (Penguin Classics)
Euripides (Author), Philip Vellacott (Introduction, Translator)

Book 4: Homer’s Odyssey
The Odyssey (Penguin Classics)
Homer (Author), Dominic Rieu (Editor), Peter Jones (Introduction), E. V. Rieu (Translator)

A level
Book 1: Aristophanes’ Clouds and Lysistrata
Lysistrata and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)
Aristophanes (Author), Alan H. Sommerstein (Translator)

Book 2: Plautus’ The Pot of Gold (The Brothers Menaechmus and The Swaggering Soldier)
The Pot of Gold and Other Plays (Classics)
Plautus (Author), E.F Watling (Translator)

Book 3: Virgil’s Aeneid
The Aeneid (Penguin Classics)
Virgil (Author), David West (Introduction, Translator)

Book 4: Homer’s Iliad
The Iliad (Penguin Classics)
Homer (Author), Martin Hammond (Introduction, Translator)

A Level Menu ☰
A Level Menu ☰