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Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Year 13 Classical Civilisation

Guidance for parents

What will students study in Classical Civilisation this year?

Unit 3 Greek Tragedy CIV3C

A critical study of four tragedies in their religious, cultural and social context.  The plays studied are ‘Oedipus the King’ and ‘Antigone’ by Sophocles, and ‘Hippolytus’ and ‘Medea’ by Euripides.

Among other themes and ideas, students are expected to be able to comment on: the structure of the plots; characterisation; the conventions and production of tragedies in fifth-century BC Athens; use of the chorus; dramatic techniques and effects.   Also explored are beliefs in fate and the gods; the nature of human choice and responsibility; the family unit; relationships between men and women; the concept of honour; attitudes towards the city and political leadership; the use of mythology to explore issues of contemporary relevance.

Unit 4 Roman Epic CIV4C

A critical study of ‘The Aeneid’ by Virgil in its religious, political, cultural and social context.

Among other themes and ideas, students will be required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: the structure of the plot; characterisation; narrative and descriptive techniques and their effect; the Homeric and Roman elements.  Also explored are belief in fate and the gods and the nature of human responsibility; relations between mortal and immortal, men and women, family members, Trojans, Greeks, Carthaginians and Italians.  Key ideas concern Aeneas’ and Rome’s destiny and mission; the links between ‘The Aeneid’ and the historical circumstances in which it was composed, especially how the text serves as propaganda for the rule of Augustus.

What are the major assessments this year?

Each unit is tested in a one-and-a-half-hour examination.  Students must answer one structured, source-based question (from a choice of two) and one essay question (again from a choice of two).  Each module is worth 50% of the A2 grade (and 25% of the overall A-level).

In preparation for these examinations, students should expect to complete regular homeworks, be they writing tasks, reading or research.  There is the official Year 13 mock examination towards the end of the first term; 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 13?

  • The best way to provide general support to Year 13 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