Curriculum – KS5 Classics (Classical Civilisation)

About this subject

Examination Board: OCR

Units Taken: H408/11, H408/24, H408/32

Link to Specification: Click here.

Course Content

Component 1: The World of the Hero (40%)

Homer’s Odyssey: The poems of Homer were considered by the Greeks themselves to be a foundation of Greek culture, standing as they do at the beginning of the Western literary canon. This component provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate the lasting legacy of the Homeric world and to explore its attitudes and values. The epics of Homer, with their heroes, gods and exciting narratives, have been in continuous study since their conception, and remain popular with learners and teachers today.

Virgil’s Aeneid: This component also provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate Virgil’s Aeneid, a cornerstone and landmark in Western literature. Drawing inspiration from Homer, as well as from his own cultural and political context (he wrote the Aeneid in the first years of a dictatorship), Virgil explored what it was to be a hero in the Roman world and created a work which has proven enduringly popular.

Component 2: Culture and The Arts (30%)

We currently offer unit 24: Greek Art.

The 6th–4th centuries BC was a period of great change in the Greek world, and this is reflected in the art which was produced. Learners will gain a thorough knowledge of the selected aspects of Greek art, but they will also gain some understanding of, and insight into, the context in which it was created, particularly the areas of religion, society, values and history/politics. Learners will have the opportunity to explore and engage with a range of the visual arts produced by the Greeks in 6th–4th centuries BC, including freestanding sculpture, architectural sculpture and vase-painting. Having undertaken this study, learners will appreciate the profound effect Greek art has had on the art of later periods. This component will hone learners’ visual and analytical skills, develop their ability to offer critical analyses, and enable them to articulate an informed personal response to the works under consideration.



We currently offer unit 32: Love and Relationships.

Ideas about love and relationships are key aspects of the literature, thoughts, and ethics of any society. This component offers the opportunity for learners to recognise and relate to the passions, frustrations and delights of love in the ancient world. The ethical questions raised by these ideas continue to be wrestled over by successive generations and this unit will generate interesting and important discussions about love, desire, sex, sexuality and the institution of marriage. Ancient ideas about men, women and marriage enable learners to discuss the reality of love and relationships in everyday life, whilst study of Seneca and Plato provides a more conceptual approach. Throughout this material learners will be able to draw comparisons and make judgements about ideal and reality, and the nature of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to love or be loved. The study of poetry forms the second half of the unit. Sappho provides a link between the Homeric poems and the literature of 5th and 4th century Athens. She is one of very few female voices from the ancient world; the context of her life is fascinating, and her verse is powerful and evocative. Ovid offers a lighter presentation of relationships and concentrates on the fun and flirtation of budding romances.

Skills Gained from Taking this Course

  • Analytical skills: literary, cultural and historical.
  • Reading skills: texts with challenging content and language.
  • Written expression and ability to plan and write essays.
  • Independent enquiry skills.
  • Understanding of moral, social and political structures which are foundations of our own.

St Marylebone Entry Requirements

To gain entry into the sixth form at St Marylebone School, students must gain a minimum of five 9-6 grades at GCSE and a 5 grade in English and Maths GCSE.

Subject Specific Entry Requirements

Grade 6 in English Language GCSE.

Entry Suggestions

To study Classical Civilisations, students should be genuinely interested in the classical/ancient world. While it is a good sign if you enjoy lessons like English literature, since the course does include some analysis of ancient literature, you should also be keen on studying something a bit different. Successful students will have intellectual curiosity, will be motivated and inspired by the study of ancient sources, will not be put off by unusual and sometimes difficult texts and will actively develop their knowledge through wider reading. Students with an interest in the origins of literature, theatre and civilisation are encouraged to take the course.

If you are made an offer, you will be expected to complete the following before your first lesson in September:

At least one of the following:

  • Find at read at least four Greek myths.
  • Visit the Greek and Roman rooms at the British Museum.
  • Choose something to read from our wider reading list (here).

Resources Needed for this Course:

  • Homer, ‘Odyssey’ translated by E. V. Rieu, revised translation by D. C. H. Rieu (Penguin) (link here)
  • Virgil, ‘Aeneid’ translated by D. West (Penguin) (link here)
  • Plato’s ‘Symposium’ translated by Robin Waterfield (Oxford World Classics)