A LEVEL CLASSICAL CIVILISATION

Awarding Body:OCRCourse Duration:1/2 Years

Minimum Entry Requirements

5 GCSE's at grades A* -C including Maths and English. You do not need to have studied Classical Civilisation before and, because all the literature is studied in translation, no previous knowledge of Latin or Greek is necessary.

Course Content

Unit CC2: Homer’s Odyssey and Society

This unit comprises a study of Homer’s Odyssey, one of the earliest extended examples of Western literature. It is the story of Odysseus, the crafty King of Ithaca whose idea of the Wooden Horse brought about the downfall of Troy – it tells of how he had to overcome many strange characters he met on his journey home from the war including man-eating giants, a witch with magic spells who could change men into pigs and women whose song was so alluring it would lead men to their deaths; how he lost all his men before arriving back in Ithaca, only to find dozens of suitors gate-crashing his palace and making unwelcome advances on his long-suffering wife; and how with the help of his son, he was able to lure the suitors into a trap and bring about their destruction. As well as studying one of the greatest adventure stories ever told, we would also cover the society in which it was set – in short, the world of the ‘Homeric Hero’.

Unit CC3: Roman Society and Thought

This unit involves a study of Roman society and its values around C1st AD through the eyes of four Roman writers of the period, namely:

Horace – noted for his wit and nicely turned phrase, Horace advised us to ‘Seize the day’ (“carpe diem”) and who celebrated the death of Cleopatra with ‘Now’s the time for drinking’ (“nunc est bibendum”)

Petronius –Nero’s ‘arbiter of taste’ (until he had him commit suicide for treason), Petronius wrote a cruelly funny attack on the lifestyle excesses of Trimalchio, one of the original nouveaux riches

Pliny – the straight-laced Roman governor and lawyer who found greater fame through his letters to some of the greats and not so greats of his day

Juvenal – the man who made biting satire what it is today and possibly the rudest author ever to be studied at A level … in Juvenal, there is something to offend all tastes!

As well as studying a selection of their works as literature, we also cover what they tell us of the society which produced them … for example, the attitude to women and foreigners; the position and power of the emperor; the lifestyle of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ of society; and the philosophies of Stoicism and Epicureanism.

Students carrying on the subject into A2 study a further two units. Currently these are:

Unit CC8: Art and Architecture in the Greek World. Students would study Greek art:

Sculpture – both the free-standing and architectural sculpture of the Archaic and the Classical periods, during which marble and bronze first came to life;

Vase painting – in particular how artists of the ‘black figure’ and ‘red figure’ techniques portrayed in their work mythology and scenes from everyday life; and

Architecture – in particular, the key public buildings which illustrated the two principal architectural styles (the Doric and the Ionic orders), together with an in-depth analysis of the key archaeological sites of Delphi, Olympia and the Acropolis at Athens.

Unit CC10: Virgil and the World of the Hero

This unit comprises an in-depth analysis of two greats of Classical Epic. Homer’s Iliad is the earliest surviving major work in Western literature and is a story of how one man’s anger and pride all but brought to its knees the Greek army at Troy. It was also one of the many sources used by Virgil for the Aeneid, a powerful adventure story set against the backdrop of the aftermath of the Trojan War, an epic tale of one man’s loves, wars and wanderings in search of his ‘promised land’. But the Aeneid is also a supreme piece of political propaganda, commissioned as a celebration of Rome’s greatness and how under the emperor Augustus it became the dominant power in the western world. As part of this unit, we would examine how and why.

Methods of Teaching

We use teacher-led discussion, with students being actively encouraged to contribute ideas. We use visual resources extensively in the art modules, whilst in all modules students are given specially prepared reading material to complement their study. In the literature modules, we study each text in a modern translation so students do not need to know the ancient languages. We place great emphasis on students’ taking responsibility for their own workload. Students work as a class, in small groups and individually, researching, asking critical questions, making connections and comparisons and drawing conclusions. We place great emphasis on students' taking responsibility for teir own workload.

Methods and Patterns of Assessment

During the course, students are required to complete a series of formal written assignments covering all areas of the specification. These comprise essays and critical analyses of the set texts, critical appreciations of works of art and reports on key archaeological sites. Students will also undertake a series of short tests and other less formal exercises to assess their understanding of the material. Where appropriate, students’ work is assessed according to guidelines provided by the subject examiners.

Financial Implications

Each student receives a series of essential reading material, which is studied in depth. Students may require additional notes for which they may be asked to pay a small charge to cover photocopying costs. Students are expected to provide their own copies of some of the set texts as specified at the start of the course, together with materials for note-taking and essay writing. A Student Support Fund is available which may be able to help students who are in financial difficulty. There is a list of recommended background reading from which students may, if they wish, buy one or more books, although all the main titles can be borrowed through College. Students may be invited to take part in at least one foreign trip, which is anticipated would cost approximately £800, whilst we may also organise UK visits to sites of relevant interest.

Career Progression

Classical Civilisation is widely accepted for university entrance whether or not students continue their studies in it. Where students choose to do so, either solely or in combination with another subject, courses no longer insist on their having studied Latin and/or Greek, although many will offer the opportunity to study an ancient language as part of the course. Whilst Classical Civilisation leads directly to few careers, it does provide transferable skills (such as dealing with complex ideas, researching and extracting relevant information and writing critically), which can be used in many areas of administration, finance, law and management.

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