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Why study Latin?

The Classical world has had and continues to have, a staggering impact on our language, technology, culture and politics today. Studying our ancient roots allows deeper engagement with a whole host of topics, which makes Latin A-Level the perfect complement to Humanities, Modern Foreign Languages and Arts subjects. The logic of Latin grammar and the prevalence of scientific and technological jargon derived from Latin also make Latin A-Level a perfect partner of the Sciences.

The A-Level Latin course is wonderfully varied and interesting. It builds very naturally on the firm foundations of language and literary analysis developed at GCSE. Queen’s pupils have thoroughly enjoyed studying Latin at A-Level. Many have become so passionate about Latin and Roman culture that they have chosen to read Classical subjects at university.    

What will I study? How will I be assessed?

The OCR specification:

Like a GCSE, 50% of the course is on language and 50% on literature.

You will acquire much more vocabulary and a more sophisticated understanding of how the language works at A-Level. However, as you will already have studied many of the constructions on the A-Level syllabus at GCSE, the progression to A-Level is more a smooth ramp than a big step up. Language continues to be assessed through a combination of translation passages, comprehensions and language analysis or prose composition (optional).

Similarly, you will already have begun to develop the literary skills you need for A-Level at GCSE. The two essay types are similar to those at GCSE, but you will have more time to read more of each text and in greater depth than you will have had at GCSE. One type of essay requires analysis of how the author has manipulated language to convey a specific mood or message and the other type prompts discussion of broader themes from the text in English.

25% of the course is a study of prose literature. Next year the prose text will likely be Cicero’s Pro Caelio, a scandalous and witty exposé of the bad behaviour of some of Rome’s elite in the late Republic.

25% of the course is a study of verse literature. Next year the verse text will likely be Virgil’s Aeneid II, a deeply moving exploration of Roman values and of war in all its horror and glory.

What skills will I gain? Where can Latin lead?

Through studying literature, you will develop the ability to probe a text, apply critical thinking skills to assess rhetoric, express yourself concisely and suspend judgement before leaping to a conclusion. You will acquire a solid base for understanding history, politics and culture generally, not just from the Roman period.

Through studying the language, you will develop an excellent command of Latin and sophisticated problem solving and logic skills. Additionally, you will boost your vocabulary and understanding of grammar in English.

Not many colleges offer A-Level Latin, so it will really set you apart from other applicants for university courses and jobs. It is highly regarded as an academic subject that hones critical thinking, analytical and organisational skills, as well as the obvious linguistic skills. For this reason, A-Level Latinists have access to a wide range of professions. Latin can lead to a career in law, medicine, finance, science, academia, architecture, engineering, marketing, politics and many other fields.