What is Classics?
The subject appeals and challenges in different ways throughout a pupil’s time at the school. From learning about beliefs about gods, life and death across the ancient world to translating Virgil from the original Latin; from analysing the heroic quality of Achilles to describing the beauty of a classical sculpture or studying the conflict between the Greek and Persian empires; Latin and Classical Civilisation offer great depth of study to enquiring minds.
Staff and facilities
There are four full-time Classics teachers.
The department has four dedicated classrooms and a departmental library. The departmental corridor contains models of the sanctuaries of Zeus at Olympia and the Acropolis in Athens, as well as dioramas showing the famous battles of Alexander the Great.
Subject time per 10-day cycle
- First Year – one lesson with one 30-minute homework
- Second and Third Year – three lessons with two 30-minute homeworks
- GCSE – five lessons with three 30-minute homeworks
- A-level – ten lessons with additional private study
Classics in the Lower School
First Years study the concepts of anthropomorphism and polytheism, then use the myths and legends of the ancient world to consider attitudes to worship, women and life after death. All the Second Years study Latin, using the Cambridge Latin course, which follows the journey of a young Roman from the ashes of Pompeii, through Roman Britain and, eventually, to Rome. Latin is a popular option subject in the Third Year.
Classics in Middle School and Sixth Form
Pupils can choose between Latin and Classical Civilisation or study both.
In GCSE Classics, pupils will examine ancient attitudes to myth and religion, looking in detail at the gods, heroes and men of the Greek and Roman world. They study the archaeology of the Mycenaean world.
GCSE Latin is a challenging and well-respected qualification where pupils will be taught to translate and appreciate the power and beauty of Roman literature in the original Latin.
The subject combines well with any modern language, but also with Humanities subjects (particularly Classical Civilisation) and English.
Students can then continue to study either or both subjects at A-level.
Classical Civilisation involves the study of a number of different aspects of the immense cultural achievements of Ancient Greece and Rome. We study two of the finest poems ever written in any language – Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid. Alongside this, in “Invention of the barbarian” and “Love and Relationships”, we will hear from such diverse authors as Herodotus, the first historian and Sappho, one of the few female voices from the ancient world. Pupils will enjoy tackling important questions in modern society through the prism of the ancient world.
A-level Latin is the culmination of many years’ study of the language. By this stage pupils will be translating original Latin, written two thousand years ago, with confidence and an emerging sensitivity. Pupils learn to appreciate Ovid’s rich humour, Virgil’s epic grandeur and Tacitus’ biting sarcasm.
Classical courses have become popular choices at university for many of our pupils.
There are a number of clubs offered by the Classics department.
First Years can join Classics Club which gives pupils an opportunity to explore the ancient world through a variety of craft and other educational projects, such as animating Homer’s Odyssey in Lego, or building a scale model of the Parthenon!
The department also puts on an adaptation of an ancient Greek Tragedy in February with a cast drawn from the Lower Sixth. The most recent production was ‘Frogs’ in 2023.
In 2014 and 2018 the department took a large party of pupils from the Fourth Year upwards on a tour to Rome and the Bay of Naples. The pupils returned to the Italian capital in February 2023.
In 2016 the department took a party of 50 pupils on a tour of Greece, visiting Athens, Delphi and Olympia among other sites.
The Sixth Form have been on trips to the British Museum in London, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Regular theatre trips and museum visits are also offered.