The Classics courses offered at Mill Hill are delivered by two teachers and aim to fire pupils’ imagination through their retrospective study of the cultures of the ancient Greeks and Romans, whilst at the same time developing communication skills as well as an appreciation of the impact these cultures still have on our modern world.
Pupils who have performed well in the Latin Common entrance examination are invited to continue their study of Latin in the Fourth Form and, using the Cambridge Latin Course, are prepared for the GCSE course. This enables students to show the academic rigour required to analyse the language successfully but there is also importance placed on putting the linguistic material in the context of the culture. For those that continue their study into the Sixth Form, cumulative understanding of the language is balanced by a variety of set texts: an historical author (Tacitus) and a verse author (Ovid) for AS Level; a prose author (Cicero) and an epic verse author (Virgil) for A2 level.
Classical Civilisation is offered as an option subject at GCSE, AS and A Level. All pupils in the Fourth Form are currently given a four week survey in order to highlight some of the topics or issues which the subject has to offer before making their GCSE option choices. The beauty of the subject is its breadth and its topic-based approach which means that there is no requirement for Sixth Form students to have studied the subject at GCSE. At GCSE, pupils can expect to delve into the world of Roman sport and entertainment and explore the destruction and lifestyle of the residents of Pompeii, as well as reading extracts of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in order to empathise with the plight of famous heroes such as Achilles, Hector and Odysseus. A Level study continues to maintain the balance between literature and society with analysis of the origins of drama and specified tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, a survey of Greek and Roman epic poetry and an introduction to Greek art and architecture through temples, sculpture and vase-painting.
Ancient Greek is also offered (off-timetable) to pupils who are interested. This has been of particular benefit to those students who are keen to study Classics at university.
In any classical subject, at every stage there is the opportunity for pupils to engage with a wide range of primary source material, comment on it, and then use this as the platform to express a personal opinion. These are important and transferable skills which are encouraged in the Sixth Form by the seminar-like feel of the relatively small class sizes.