The Ancient History course (which leads to an A Level in Classical Civilisation) offers students the opportunity to study the cultures of Ancient Greece and Rome.
The first year involves a detailed look at Athens of the 5th century BC. In unit 1 you will study the political development of Athens in the 6th – 5th centuries BC, the way it worked and study the leading figures of the time. You will read contemporary views of Athens including Aristophanes’ satirical comedy, The Wasps.
For nearly three-quarters of a century Athens had by far the strongest fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. In unit 2 you will see how Athens built up her formidable power - and lost it. Through the account of the historian Thucydides, who claims to have been an eyewitness to many of the events and who brings the period to life with a series of dramatic debates, you will be able to judge for yourself the Athenians’ motives and ambitions as well as the reasons for their eventual humiliation and defeat.
In the second year the focus of the course changes to Rome. In unit 3 you will study Augustus. Was he a cunning, ruthless and brutal warlord who would stop at nothing to ensure his faction was supreme? Or a responsible statesman and benefactor devoted to restoring the peace, prosperity and traditional values which the ambitions of others had destroyed? Augustus would of course want you to believe the latter, as you will see when you read his own spin on his achievements, but a biography of Augustus by Suetonius will give you a more objective view of the man, his motives and methods.
In unit 4 you will meet two more Roman emperors. Tiberius was alleged to have been smothered to death by the commander of his bodyguard; Claudius was believed to have been served a dish of poisoned mushrooms by his fourth wife. What were the reasons for these apparent murders? From reading the accounts of the reigns of these two emperors by the historian Tacitus and the biographer Suetonius you will see that many hostile and damning stories circulated. But are they true? Were Tiberius and Claudius really so corrupt and weak? Look behind the scurrilous stories and spin to see how far we can discover the truth about their achievements.
Subjects that link particularly well with this course are History, Archaeology, Government and Politics, Critical Thinking, English, Philosophy…in fact it can complement a wide range of other courses. To be successful in this course students should feel relatively confident in their ability to read, assimilate new information, and complete extended pieces of writing.
An A Level in Classical Civilisation will enhance your chances of being accepted into university. There you can choose to specialise in the classics, or to use your classical grounding as the foundation for subjects like history, archaeology and anthropology. It really depends on your own dream. Whether you see yourself diving for artefacts in the sunny Aegean Sea or addressing the speaker as a Member of Parliament, the classics are a wonderful foundation.