The Perse School


Intellectually-demanding training that values attention to detail

Our aim

We aim to share our expertise in Latin grammar and our enthusiasm for the different literary texts. Studying Latin 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 read texts by Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Livy and Tacitus, and thereby become immersed in the mythical origins of the Roman world as well as its gritty political realities.

Some students choose to study Latin at A level as they prepare to move on to study classics at university, others are simply looking for a rewarding subject to complement the other parts of their sixth form curriculum. Whether one sees Latin as a chance to learn more about the Romans and their literature, an opportunity to understand the language behind so much scientific and medical terminology or a means of improving one’s understanding of the way languages ancient and modern work, it is a subject with a broad appeal at sixth form level. It is highly-regarded by universities and employers as providing an intellectually-demanding training that values attention to detail.

Learning journey - Lower Sixth

Students begin the Lower Sixth by reading a variety of texts to introduce them to the breadth of Latin literature. We look at works by a range of authors, which may include texts written by Caesar, Catullus, Cicero, Petronius or Propertius. 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 nominated authors – Livy for prose and Ovid for verse)
• Prose Composition (translating from English into Latin)
• Prose Comprehension (of texts written by a range of authors)
• Prose Literature (study of prose set texts, which from September 2018 will include either Cicero Philippic II or Tacitus Histories I)
• Verse Literature (study of verse set texts, which from September 2018 will include either Virgil Aeneid XI or Horace Satires)

Learning journey - Upper Sixth

During the Upper Sixth, students complete their work in the five elements of A level (see above).

Providing stretch

Students participate in a number of trips during their sixth form career, most notably to lectures in London given by subject specialists on the set texts.

We encourage students 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 to be found in the school library. We encourage students to read widely around the subject; suggested texts include Mary Beard and John Henderson’s Classics – A Very Short Introduction, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian and Tom Holland’s Rubicon.

The Department has a collection of the Omnibus periodical aimed at those studying classical subjects in the Sixth Form.

We make available a number of resources via the School Virtual Learning Environment, which include 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.

Sixth Form students (as well as those in Year 11) are invited to participate in regular Classics Seminars, led by members of staff and by pupils alike. The seminars feature presentations on different aspects of Classics, followed by discussion.

Students of Latin have the chance to compete in the annual Senior Reading Competition run by the local branch of the Classical Association.

Latin at university

The Perse has a strong tradition of preparing students for entrance to top universities to read classics.

All who hope to study Classics at university receive guidance and advice to help them prepare for interview and make a smooth transition to university.

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