Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Year 12 Classical Civilisation

Specification Summary 

AS Classical Civilisation 

Unit Code: H008 

Examination Board: OCR


AS Unit 1

H008/21 Greek Theatre

Quite simply, the greatest collection of great literature ever gathered together in one student-friendly bundle.  We look at the mother of all tragedies, and arguably the most influential play of all time, Oedipus the King.  Then we study perhaps the cruellest of all plays, Euripides’ The Bacchae, the sufferings of which are too disturbing to list here.  As light relief from all the blood and tears, we read the Greek Comedy Frogs, where fluids of a quite different kind (mostly wine) spray across the stage.  The plays are considered as works of literature, but also as historical sources, revealing the thoughts and beliefs of the culture which produced them.  Recognising that theatre is something you watch, we also look at vase paintings and statues showing the myths behind, and performances of, these plays.

 Set texts: for ‘Oedipus the King’, translation by Fagles,  in The Three Theban Plays (Penguin); for ‘Bacchae’ and ‘Frogs’, the appropriate volume of Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama.

 In addition, there is a handout of black-figure and red-figure vase paintings, map of the Greek theatre etc.

AS Unit 2

H008/11 The World of the Hero

An epic poem in every sense - it takes thirty hours to read! – and one of the founding texts of western civilization.  Journey with Odysseus on his ten-year voyage home as he blinds the drunken Cyclops, is thwarted by angry gods and even pops down to the underworld; look on amused as that tempting witch Circe turns men into swine (plus ca change).  Study looks at the structure of the plot, oral composition, narrative and descriptive techniques; it embraces such themes as the role of fate and the gods, the heroic code and the concepts of honour and revenge.  

 Set text: Homer, ‘Odyssey’ translated by E. V. Rieu, revised translation by D. C. H. Rieu (Penguin)

 You are tested in a one-and-a-half-hour examination.  Section A contains short answer questions, responses to two stimuli from the prescribed books, and a shorter essay question.  Section B contains a choice of one from two essays. This module is worth 50% of your AS grade.

 What are the major assessments this year?

You are tested in a one-and-a-half-hour examination.  Section A contains short answer questions, responses to two stimuli from the prescribed books, and a shorter essay question.  Section B contains a choice of one from two essays.   This module is worth 50% of your AS grade.

In preparation for these examinations, students should expect to complete regular homeworks, be they writing tasks, reading or research.  There is the official Year 12 mock examination and the department runs a second mock around Easter time.

What will the current performance grade be based on, and what do the levels mean?

The current performance grades are based on the quality of work students complete over the year, including classwork and homework as well as the mocks. Spoken contributions to class work and discussion will also form part of the assessment. A key factor is student attendance in lessons and the meeting of deadlines as these are fundamental to student progression.

All students are given a copy of the examination board’s mark scheme at the start of the year which describes the levels and the differences between them. 

What should a student do if struggling in the subject?

In the first instance, the student should speak to the subject teachers. We have an open-door policy offering help with explaining themes, planning essays, improving drafts, and helping with time-management.  We also offer pastoral support, including optional sessions of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) run by Mrs MacCormack. 

How can I support my daughter/son in Year 12?

  • The best way to provide general support to Year 12 students is by talking to them about their work in the subject and how things are going.  If you can, read the texts they are studying yourself and talk about them. Don’t worry about having a ‘literary discussion’ – just talking about a text on any level will help the student to make connections and identify problems with the text. Do get your hands on films and audiobooks of the set texts and watch them together or listen at home or in the car.
  • Encourage them to continue reading as widely as possible and, in particular, to read and discuss critical essays and those exploring the historical background of the texts. (Reading lists are provided for students). 
  • Keep an eye and ear open for television and radio shows on the Classics.
  • Encourage your daughter/son to participate in the trips we run (remember, it is possible to access the school hardship fund to pay for a ticket if money is tight).
  • Provide a quiet place for them to work; ensure they are not still working at two in the morning – they should be asleep at two in the morning. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, if you know of some circumstance impacting upon your daughter/son’s well-being or performance, let us know – the better informed we are, the better able we are to help!

What kind of independent work should my daughter/son undertake?

  • The library should be a second home to our students – it has an excellent catalogue of supporting texts and dvds, and offers a quiet working environment.
  • Students should be working in advance of deadlines to facilitate the discussion of drafts with both their teachers.  We would expect to see every student at least twice or thrice a year for this one-on-one support.
  • Students should keep an eye out for any upcoming exhibitions or performances relevant to the course, as we appreciate the heads-up!
  • If considering Classics or Classical Civilisation at university, there are various summer schools (some focusing on Greek/Latin, others looking at historical/cultural/literary themes).
  • Any extra work submitted by students will receive full feedback from their teachers.

Who can I contact for further advice and information?

Please feel free to contact the Head of Classical Civilisation, Mr Deane, at