Register your interest
Please wait...
+44 (0)1904 727600

Aims & Philosophy of the Classical Civilisation Department

“Children have schoolmasters to teach them, adults have the poets.” –  Aristophanes

Classical Civilisation is the gateway to two different, and often magical, worlds. Who has never been enchanted by the Greeks, with their complex mythology, their elegant temples, and their beautiful statues? Or who has never been fascinated by the Romans, with their ruthless efficiency and powerful sense of order? At Queen Margaret’s, the Classics Department aims above all to foster a feeling of wonder for the Greek and Roman world. We believe that studying and appreciating these two civilisations gives our students greater insight into their own lives.

Overview of Key Stage 4 Curriculum

Classical Civilisation is one of the most exciting GCSEs. No other subject offers such a great breadth of material: the course looks at daily life in the vibrant and democratic city of Athens, and contrasts the freedom and dynamism of the Athenians with the brutal and repressive regime of the Spartans. We cover a range of themes including education, the role of women in society, and Greek attitudes to religion.

The Olympic Games is a popular area of study, and the girls consider the original reasons behind this athletic festival, as well as comparing it to the modern event. We also look at Greek literature and read selections from the Odyssey, one of the oldest books in the European tradition, and we follow the adventures of Odysseus as he deals with angry gods, seductive goddesses, and an argumentative crew.

The comprehensive scope of the course encourages students to master and manage a wide range of information. Our students learn how to pick out seemingly disparate facts to put forward and support coherent views. In doing so, they develop techniques valuable in other subjects such as History, Geography and English and combine them into a formidable skills-set. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required for this course, and it is not necessary to have studied Classical Civilisation before.

What makes the Classical Civilisation Department unique from those at other schools?

We pride ourselves on our ability to cater for the individual. We are unusual in being able to offer Greek, Latin, and Classical Civilisation as fully timetabled subjects at GCSE and A level, especially given the relatively small size of the school as a whole. As a consequence, classes tend to be small, allowing much greater interaction between pupils and teachers, and also allowing us to tailor what we teach to the interests and requirements of individual girls. GCSE Greek, for example, may be offered as a possibility in the Sixth Form, or extra lessons given to Oxbridge candidates.

The location of Queen Margaret’s also enables us to take advantage of a wide range of extra-curricular events across the country as a whole. Visits to Hadrian’s Wall, to the undercroft of York Minster, and to the British Museum are regular features of life in the Department. We are also close enough to be able to attend lectures and study days at the universities of Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Manchester, and productions of Classical plays in London, Oxford, and Cambridge. There have also been highly successful trips to Pompeii and Athens in recent years.

To learn about the Classical Civilisation Department
curriculum in other Key Stages please choose a link