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Learn more about Latin

Why study this subject?

Classical texts form the foundation of our society.  An education in literature as much as human psychology, the study of Latin allows students to tackle a variety of different issues, from how a classical text has influenced the works of famous writers from Hardy to Sheers, to how modern politicians have adapted ancient rules of rhetoric for the contemporary political scene.

Studying Latin is extremely beneficial to any student wishing to undertake a literary or historical based subject, equipping them with the fundamental knowledge of our language – where it has come from, how it was formed and how it is used.

Which Examination Board?


Does the AS count towards the A Level or is it a standalone qualification?

The AS is a standalone qualification.  It does not count towards the A Level.  You can opt into the AS qualification if you choose to drop this subject at the end of Year 12.

How will you be assessed?

Two examinations in May/June, each paper is worth 50% for the AS.  Four examinations in May/June for the A2.

What can I do with it?

If the classical bug has bitten you and you want to pursue your interests at degree level, you will find a large selection of university courses involving varying amounts of language work and literature with related subjects, for example Greek, Ancient History, Philosophy, Art and Architecture and Archaeology.  A glance through university prospectuses will reveal that in fact you can combine Latin with practically any subject, including ICT.  Several students have opted for Latin in combination with French.  Students wishing to take Greek will find a number of excellent summer schools offering the subject at all levels.  Grants to assist with financing these courses are available from these schools as well as the GDST.

What is the outline content over 2 years?

Year 12

The Advanced Subsidiary course (AS)

There are two examinations at the end of Year 12 (one literature and one language).  You will usually study one prose and one verse author (currently Cicero and Vergil) in Year 12.  You will answer:

  • A commentary paper consisting of questions (in English) based on two extracts from the set texts (one and a half hours);
  • An unseen translation and comprehension paper for which a definitive vocabulary list is provided (one and a half hours).

Group sizes tend to be small (up to seven in recent years) and this enables students to participate freely and with enjoyment in discussion and translation work, to enjoy a close and mutually supportive relationship with other members of the group and to benefit from individual help from staff.

Weekly translation, vocabulary learning and translation and discussion of the set texts form the basis of the seminars.  Latin students are encouraged to attend both extra-curricular and subject based lectures and trips together with their Classical Civilisation peers.  Tutorial sessions are available when the need for discussion of individual progress arises.

Year 13

The A2 course

There are four examinations at the end of Year 13:

  • Language Paper 1 Unseen Translation:  for Section A, students will translate a piece of unseen prose in to English.  Section B will be a translation of a piece of Latin verse into English.
  • Language Paper 2  Comprehension:  students will read a passage of Latin and answer comprehension and grammar questions.
  • Latin Verse:  for Section A and B students study two poetry authors and answer comprehension questions, a set text translation and an analysis question on each text. Section C contains an essay question on one of the verse texts that they have read.
  • Latin Prose Paper:  for Section A and B of the paper students study two prose authors and answer comprehension questions, a set text translation and an analysis question.  Section C contains an essay question on one of the prose texts that they have read.