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Qualification: Classical Civilisation - A Level
Location: Canterbury College

Classical Civilisation - A Level

Classical Civilisation offers a dynamic insight into the worlds of Ancient Greece and Rome, the two civilisations which lie at the root of Western culture and influenced it like no other.

The course is uniquely interdisciplinary, incorporating elements of literature, art, history, philosophy and several other subject areas. Students of the subject develop a range of skills, such as deductive reasoning, analysis and extended prose composition. As a wide-ranging and rigorous course, Classical Civilisation can be combined very effectively with other subject choices to provide students with a strong academic portfolio. Students focusing on arts subjects will find that Classical Civilisation can strengthen their understanding and appreciation of a large number of concepts. The subject is also a natural choice for science students seeking to study a course which will broaden their scope and touch on a range of other disciplines.


You will cover a range of topics such as:

The World of the Hero – The Iliad, the earliest text in Western literature and undoubtedly one of the greatest. Its central theme is the anger of Achilles, a warrior whose refusal to fight in the legendary Trojan War threatens the Greek army with humiliating defeat. It is a story of human failure and human glory, enlivened by the rivalries and meddling influences of the gods. As a second-year text, students study The Aeneid, the grand and eloquent Roman response to The Iliad and a powerful statement of Roman achievements. Students study a large range of the themes articulated in these texts, such as heroism, mortality and the role of divine powers.

Greeks and Barbarians – The study of the process by which the Greeks created the concept of the barbarian. Few other concepts have had such a deep and devastating influence on the course of Western history. Through close analysis of classical histories, plays and artistic sources, students explore how the Greeks perceived themselves as different from, and superior to, other peoples, including the Persians and the mythical Amazons. The topic has very powerful resonances with some of the deepest issues in society today.

Gods, Cults and Religion – Explores the Greeks’ relationship with their gods. Long after Christianity obscured the cults of the ‘old’ gods, their influence was keenly felt in Western art and literature – and still is today. Students study not only the well-known Olympian gods and the myths associated with them, but also Greek rituals, cults and places of worship. They assess the role of religion in society and the influence of philosophical developments on religious belief.


Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.


The A Level is entirely based on written examination taken at the end of the second year and is based on both years’ work.


For an A Level programme of study, we normally require students to have a range of at least five to seven GCSE passes at grade 4 or higher, ideally including English and Mathematics, but students must also satisfy the minimum entry criteria for A Level Classic Civilisation below.

Grade 5

GCSE English Language or English Literature



Grade 5

In at least one other predominantly written based GCSE subject (from subjects such as English Language, English Literature, History, Religious Studies or Sociology)



Teaching and postgraduate research are clear career options for those who want to work directly with the classical material, but classics degrees also prepare students for a very wide range of other career paths. Many classicists go on to train for professions such as the law or accountancy. Companies are often ready to employ people with classics qualifications in administrative and managerial roles.


To be successful in Classical Civilisation, you will need to enjoy reading and have sound written skills. The department has well-developed support materials, which are available through the College’s online learning environment and there is an extensive collection of Classics books in the College’s library.

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New Dover Road
Canterbury, Kent

01227 936577