Classical Civilisation

OCR’s GCSE (9–1) Classical Civilisation provides an excellent introduction to the classical world and its legacy. Learners will study two components, Myth and Religion and The Homeric World.

All learners will study material from both ancient Greece and Rome, and their surrounding worlds, drawn from the time period 3000 BC to 500 AD. This material will encompass aspects of literature and visual/material culture in their respective social, historical and cultural contexts.

  • The Thematic Study provides the opportunity to study both Greece and Rome, literature and visual/material culture. These components are wide ranging and encompass a variety of interesting, engaging material.
  • In Literature and Culture learners will be able to undertake an element of cultural study, and then couple this with the study of a related body of literature. This approach enables a diverse course of study and preserves the variety of material which has always been such a popular feature of Classical Civilisation.

These components are externally assessed, written examinations. There are two examinations which are both worth 90 marks and lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes. Each represents 50% of the marks for the GCSE (9–1).

The aims of Classical Civilisation GCSE are to encourage candidates to:

  • Actively engage in the process of enquiry into the classical world so that they develop as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers.
  • Acquire, through studying a range of appropriate sources, knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of the classical world.
  • Develop awareness of the continuing influence of the classical world on later times and of the similarities and differences between the classical world and later times.
  • Develop and apply analytical and evaluative skills at an appropriate level.
  • Make an informed, personal response to the material studied.

Myth and Religion

Myth and religion have always been areas of study popular with learners, and so this exploration of religion and mythology in the ancient Greek and Roman world will surely prove to be engaging and appealing. ‘Rome’ here is primarily taken to mean the city of Rome, although reference may be made to other towns and cities which display typical ‘Roman’ characteristics, e.g. Pompeii.

Many learners come to Classical Civilisation due to a love of the mythology of the ancient world, and so this forms a central part of this thematic component. Learners will study myths regarding the role of the gods and heroes in the founding of Athens and Rome and the importance of Heracles/Hercules to both the Greek and Roman world. These are well known stories that learners will enjoy engaging with and studying in increased depth. Myth as a symbol of power will also be explored, as will ever popular myths about the underworld.

Learners will also look at the role of religion in the everyday lives of ancient Greeks and Romans. The study of temples, sacrifice, festivals, death and beliefs in the afterlife will give a broad overview of religion in the ancient world, and provides opportunity for the study of a wide variety of material remains, including remarkable temples and works of art.

The Homeric World

The Greeks themselves recognised the world of Homer’s poems as the cradle of Greek literature and civilisation, and this component provides the opportunity for the study of a fascinating period of history and a work of literature with great enduring appeal.

The Culture section involves a study of life in Mycenaean times. This is a very diverse area, allowing the study of particular sites, their archaeology and the valuable role they play in our understanding of the age. The Mycenaean Age is also rich in sculpture, frescos and jewellery, as well as the famous tombs and their accompanying treasure, meaning that learners can study a wide range of fascinating materials. Everyday life in Mycenaean times is also explored, allowing learners to consider what life was like for real people in this period, rather than simply focusing on the exploits of epic heroes.

The selection of books chosen for study in this component combine the fantastical and enjoyable tales of Odysseus’ journey, with those which give learners a possible insight into everyday life; including aspects such as palace life and the lives of women. The final books, which focus on the battle between Odysseus and the suitors, are exciting in themselves and also pose interesting questions about revenge and punishment.