Classical Greek at A level is a course of study now offered by very few schools, but one that is held in the very highest regard by employers and universities. Those who have studied Greek to a high level are regarded as being academically ambitious and able to rise to a challenge. Whilst many students will choose Greek alongside Latin as they prepare to study classics at university, others opt for the subject for both the intellectual challenge it offers and the insight it provides into one of the Western world’s foundational cultures.
Studying Greek at A level requires students to become confident linguists as well as critical analysts of the literature written in that language. Over the two years of the Sixth Form course, students should expect to read texts by Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Plato and Thucydides, and thereby to become immersed in the myth, history and culture of the Greek world. Teachers pass on their own expertise in Greek grammar as well as their enthusiasm for the different literary texts.
In almost every case those wishing to study Greek in the Sixth Form will need to have taken classical Greek at GCSE before embarking upon the A level course. Although many students will study Latin alongside Greek at A level, it is quite possible to study Greek without Latin in the Sixth Form.
- Learning journey - Lower Sixth
Students begin the Lower Sixth by reading a variety of texts to introduce them to the breadth of Greek literature. We look at works by a range of authors, which may include texts written by Homer, Sophocles, Lysias and Herodotus. This work will develop many of the skills needed for success at A level. There will also be an extensive programme of language teaching, to help students become confident readers of original texts.
During the Lent term, students will begin to focus on the five elements that make up the A level:
- Unseen Translation (of a range of prose authors and a nominated verse author, Euripides)
- Prose Composition (translating from English into Greek)
- Prose Comprehension (study of Athenian Oratory)
- Prose Literature (study of prose set texts, likely to include works by Herodotus or Plato)
- Verse Literature (study of verse set texts, likely to include Homer’s Odyssey books 9 and 10)
- Learning journey - Upper Sixth
During the Upper Sixth, students complete their work in the five elements of A level (see above).
- Providing stretch
We encourage those studying Greek to read beyond the requirements of the exam specifications and to pursue their own interests. The Classics Department has its own extensive library in addition to the many classical works found in the school library. We have a collection of the Omnibus periodical aimed at those studying classical subjects in the Sixth Form. We encourage students to read widely around the subject; suggested texts include Mary Beard and John Henderson’s Classics – A Very Short Introduction, Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Simon Goldhill’s Love, Sex and Tragedy.
We provide students with access to seminal articles as well as links to blogs and other websites of interest. Students are encouraged to follow the Department on Twitter (@PerseClassics) so that they can stay abreast of new research within classics and suggestions for further independent exploration.
- Beyond the classroom
We regularly hold fascinating talks of a classical theme, and run clubs, societies and competitions.
Some are organised by our 42 society, such a lecture on ‘How the Roman gods can predict your future’ by Dr Jerry Toner, Director of Studies in classics at Churchill College, Cambridge and an Old Persean, while some are given by students, perhaps as part of their EPQ, such as a presentation assessing evidence that the Ancient Greeks had post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Classical Society, a student-led society, welcomes visiting speakers.
- Greek at university
The Perse has a strong tradition of preparing students for entrance to top universities to read classics.
Numerous classicists have gone from the Perse to Oxford and Cambridge; all who hope to read classics at university receive dedicated programmes of extension work to help them prepare for interview and make a smooth transition to university.