The Classics Department offers A level Latin for students who have already studied the subject for GCSE. You will develop your language skills and reading fluency and plunge into the ancient world to a greater depth. Through reading the words of influential Roman authors, you can gain a fascinating insight into their politics, relationships and philosophies of life.
Latin literature can be particularly exciting when we find our own thoughts and feelings reflected back to us, and at other times Roman values can be disturbing and uncomfortable. This helps us to explore our own humanity and the study of a remote culture provides a useful vantage point for reflection on our own.
In language lessons, you will hone your linguistic skills, learning in depth how the grammatical details of the language operate. You will read passages from a wide variety of prose and verse authors to develop the fluency of your translation. This includes poets such as Virgil and Ovid, the speeches of the politician Cicero, and the works of the historian Livy, who dusts off the sands of time from some of the oldest Roman legends. You will build on your GCSE vocabulary and learn precise linguistic analysis of grammatic forms and constructions. This prepares you for papers in unseen translation and comprehension. Translation from English into Latin is an option.
Literature makes up 50% of the A level course at a point where you are beginning to understand the language more easily. You will study two prose authors and two verse authors, or two halves of a longer text. We also cover additional material in English, to give context to the texts. Translation of the text is fundamental and you will also develop your skills of critical analysis and your literary, historical and cultural understanding.
The prose set text is likely to include sections from Cicero’s defence speech ‘Pro Caelio’ in which he vigorously defends a client who has been accused of political violence, murder and attempted poisoning. We will also study selections from the historian Tacitus, who cynically explores life under the emperor Tiberius.
The verse set text includes selections from Aeneid 2, which tells the story of the wooden horse and the fall of Troy. Another possible text is the poems of Juvenal, whose satires are a biting, cynical critique of contemporary Roman life. We follow the OCR curriculum. There is no coursework; both language and set texts are tested in examination papers at the end of Upper Sixth.
A*–A in A level Latin in 2022
trip with Classics and RPE Departments
“I am fascinated by the classical world and studying Latin gives me the fantastic chance to see that world through the eyes of the Roman authors.”
“Latin encourages you to be both methodical and to think outside the box, to respect the works of others and to create your own ideas, to look back at the past and simultaneously to find surprising links to the modern day.”
There are opportunities for you to attend lectures, plays and the annual reading competition at the University of Oxford. Guest speakers might be invited to the School, and classical dinners are not unknown. You may also join trips to Italy and Greece. There is a Sixth Form Classics Society and you can also help to run Helicon Club.