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What is Classics?

The subject appeals and challenges in different ways throughout a pupil’s time at the school. From discussing the behaviour of the gods in the First Year to translating Virgil from the original Latin, from analysing the heroic quality of Achilles to describing the beauty of a classical sculpture or analysing Ovid’s descriptive power; Latin and Classical Civilisation offer great depth of study to enquiring minds.

Staff and facilities

There are three full-time and one part-time Classics teachers.

The department makes full use of the large number of visual resources available for this subject. The department is visually exciting with models of the sanctuaries of Zeus at Olympia and the Acropolis in Athens. There are also dioramas showing the famous battles of Alexander the Great.

Subject time per 10-day cycle

  • First Year – one lesson with half an hour of homework
  • Second and Third Year – three lessons with two half an hour homeworks
  • GCSE – five lessons with three half an hour homeworks
  • A-level – ten lessons with additional private study

Classics in the Lower School

First Years study the myths of the Ancient Greeks (Theseus and the Minotaur, Heracles, the Trojan War and many others) before moving on to learn about important aspects of life in Ancient Greece. All the Second Year and some of the Third Year study Latin, following the journey of a young Roman from the ashes of Pompeii, through Roman Britain and, eventually, to Rome. They learn to approach this most challenging and most rewarding of subjects with confidence and determination.

Classics further up the school


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 representation of the hero Hercules. We also read selected books from Homer’s Odyssey in translation from Ancient Greek.

GCSE Latin is a challenging and well-respected qualification. Pupils will be taught to translate and appreciate the power and beauty of Roman literature in the original Latin – a skill offered to few and acquired by even fewer.

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. In two innovative topics, “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.

Please consult the Sixth Form Handbook (pdf) for further information

Co-curricular activities

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!

Suitable pupils at the start of the Fourth Year are offered the chance to begin an extra-curricular Classical Greek GCSE.

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 ‘Bethides’ in 2020.


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 will return 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.

Classics trip to Greece in 2016

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.

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