What could be a more enjoyable way to gain a top grade at A level than by spending a few hours a week in the company of some of the most wonderful writers the world has ever known? The study of Classical Civilisation at A level is both a pleasure and a privilege. Epic stories of love, tragedy, war and heroic quest, featuring vivid and dramatic characters wrestling with eternal human problems, as well as outrageous comedy which is sometimes so filthy it would never be allowed on the telly today – Classics has the lot.
Taught by very experienced staff, who are passionate about the subject, you will learn to read and write to university level on this course and learn a lot about people, societies, culture and politics that are fascinating in themselves and highly relevant to the concerns of today’s world. If you liked English or other Arts subjects at GCSE, we’d be very surprised if you didn’t like Classics at A level.
Classical Civilisation Courses
Two Year A Level
This course is the best way to give yourself a classical education without having to know any Greek or Latin. Classical Civilisation still has a modular format – 2 exams at AS which count for 50% of your A level, then 2 more at A2 also worth 50% of the whole in the second year. First we study the adventures of Homer’s great hero, Odysseus, in the Odyssey, then in unit 2 go on to look at the tragic heroes and heroines of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. In the second year, at A2, we read the uproarious comedies of Aristophanes and the Roman writer, Plautus, before going on to the tragic depiction of war and its aftermath in Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid.
One Year A Level
The department also has a highly successful one-year intensive A level, which most students take from scratch, with no previous knowledge of the ancient world or its literature. The department allows additional tutorials to ensure the course is completed in time. You will need to have some interest in literature and a willingness to work hard, but with this, a high level of success is more than possible. Students regularly achieve top grades on this course.
Classical Civilisation Staff
Classical Civilisation is taught by two expert teachers with years of successful A level teaching behind them.
Mike Wheeldon, Vice Principal for Arts & Humanities
Mike Wheeldon joined us in 2000 after a period as Head of Arts and prior to that as Head of English in various London sixth form colleges. Following his degree in English and Latin at the University of Warwick, Mike was a doctoral researcher in Classics at Kings’ College London for several years, writing on historiographical theory in the ancient world and teaching occasional undergraduate classes. He loves introducing students to the great epics and tragedies that form the backbone of the syllabus, but welcomes the forthcoming changes to A level, which will bring back topics on society, politics and philosophy too. Mike is married with three grown-up children. His free time is spent fretting over the fortunes of Manchester United or trying to take his mind off them with crosswords, hiking and visits to the theatre.
Lucy has worked as Head of Latin and a Classics teacher in various boys’ schools and particularly enjoyed helping out with Drama activities and Cookery clubs. She undertook a degree in Classics at Birmingham University and then completed a PGCE and Masters in Education at the University of Cambridge, focusing on Underachievement in Able Boys. She has marked the A level Latin exams for three years and is enjoying the opportunity to focus mainly on Classical Civilisation and teach two of her favourite books, ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘The Aeneid’. In her free time she runs a small business making crochet gifts for babies and enjoys baking and anything creative.
Classical Civilisation Students
John is a marvelous example of how the one year A level Classics course at Brampton College can change the course of your life. John came to the college from an independent school after performing poorly in his A levels the first time around. He was a charming and ebullient young man (and still is!) who’d had too much of a good time at school and knew he could have worked harder. But he also had serious doubts over whether he was able to do well in the subjects he had chosen – Biology, Mathematics and Chemistry. After careful discussion between John, the teachers and his parents, he decided to persist with Maths and Biology, but to drop Chemistry and take up Classical Civilisation on the intensive one-year course.
At first, John loved the study of the ancient plays and poems, but he had to struggle to learn the requisite essay skills. However, by November, he had made great progress on this front and by January had scored an A grade in a Classics modular exam. He was now working harder than he ever had before. And his ideas about his future degree had changed too: he liked the Classics so much he applied to read the subject at King’s College London. When June came round, John was ready to succeed, and he was rewarded with an A grade in Classics and a place at King’s.
“My biggest challenge at Brampton was taking AS/A2 Classical Civilisation in one year – the content was difficult as was managing to learn such a wide expanse of information in a short time. However, the scheduling of lessons ensured that the course was completed ahead of time, and my teacher, Mike Wheeldon, was constantly available to lend a helping hand and provide extra lessons when I felt I needed them. My greatest moment was of course when I received my 3 A’s in English, Sociology and Classical Civilisation. I gained a place to read English Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, and believe that the skills I learnt at Brampton College come into practice every day.”