Find out more about studying Greek at Westminster


  • Curriculum
  • Enrichment
  • Staff
  • After Westminster
  • Curriculum
    Lower School

    All pupils study Greek in the Fifth Form (Year 9). We set pupils according to their previous experience, with the aim that, at the end of the year, every pupil should be in a strong position to carry ontowards GCSE if they so wish.  Alongside our in-house language materials, all sets read and discuss a Greek tragedy in translation and study various other topics of ancient Greek history and literature. 

    The School offers the Classical Greek GCSE, which consists of language and literature components (50% each).  For their verse set text, pupils have the opportunity to read an extract from one of Homer’s limitlessly influential epics, the Iliad or the Odyssey, in Greek; they also read a fascinating prose author such as Herodotus, the ‘father of history’, or Lucian, who is often referred to as the first sci-fi novelist. 

    Each year in the Lower and Upper Shell (Years 10 and 11) some pupils study ‘Combined Classics’.  It is an intense course, essentially involving study for both the Latin and the Greek GCSEs in a reduced amount of lesson time. Other pupils study for the Latin and Greek GCSEs separately, using the normal amount of lesson time for each.

    Syllabus & Code
    OCR GCSE J292 Classical Greek
    Upper School

    The curriculum comprises a language course and a literature course. In the Sixth Form (Year 12), the language course is an intensive survey of advanced syntax, underpinned by vocabulary and accidence learning and with a focus on translation from English into Greek. The literature course aims to broaden and deepen pupils’ appreciation of a range of authors and genres, such as Homer (epic), Lysias (rhetoric), and Herodotus and Thucydides (history); to build confidence in reading Greek; and to develop writing skills through essays.  We also have a series of seminars on wider literary and cultural issues arising from our texts. 

    In the Remove (Year 13), we prepare more directly for the Classical Greek A Level. Pupils read and discuss set texts in verse (usually tragedy) and prose (history or philosophy), and practise unseen translation into English and prose composition into Greek. 

    Syllabus & Code
    OCR A Level H444 Classical Greek
    Sixth Form Entry
    Subject requirements for the course
    Candidates should be on track to achieve a grade 8 or 9 for Classical Greek at (I)GCSE level.

    Entrance Examination

    The entrance examination in Greek tests candidates’ linguistic and literary skills. It has three sections: a passage for translation into English; sentences for translation into Greek; and a short text, translated from Greek into English, for written literary discussion. We do not expect candidates to know aspects of the Greek language that are not normally covered at GCSE level: we are looking for them to deploy their knowledge and skills with precision and insight.

    Overseas Candidates
    There is no (I)GCSE requirement for those who attend schools overseas that do not prepare pupils for (I)GCSE examinations. Candidates will be considered for a place based on their performance in the School’s entrance examinations and a transcript of results from their current school.
  • Enrichment

    The department runs an extensive co-curricular programme.  Every year we organise a very popular Fifth Form (Year 9) trip to Greece, to study some of the great archaeological sites of the European classical heritage, such as the Athenian acropolis, the oracle at Delphi, and the sanctuary and stadium at Olympia.  We also run a Remove (Year 13) university preparation trip to the School’s house in Nenthead (close to Hadrian’s Wall), and often a Sixth Form trip, for example to Sicily or northern Greece. 

    We have a thriving Classics Society, focused on lunchtime presentations by pupils of all years but also hosting external speakers. Other recent activities have included: attendance at a moot trial of the ancient British queen Boudicca, presided over by a Law Lord at the High Court; visits to the British Museum; trips to West End theatres, Oxford, and to King’s College, London, to watch plays performed in ancient Greek; Lower School Expeditions to walk and study Hadrian’s Wall; Upper School excursions to hear lectures by Oxford and Cambridge academics; the production of a Classics magazine, Editio, entirely by pupils; the running of a Latin club at a local primary school, by Sixth Form volunteers; performances of Greek and Latin plays by A Level pupils, in their own translations; and the hosting here of the London Classical Reading Competition, supported by the Classical Association. 

  • Staff

    * denotes Head of Department
    † denotes Housemaster

    Dr Tasos Aidonis (AA) — Director of Upper School
    Mr Benedict Gravell (BEJG) — Upper School Expeditions; Head of Public Examinations
    Ms Rowena Hewes (RCH)
    Mr Joseph Ireland (JAI)
    Dr Duncan McCombie (DJM) — Head of Classics  *
    Mr Andrew Mylne (AEAM)
  • After Westminster

    Every year a considerable number of pupils go on to study Classics (or Classics joint with English, Modern Languages or Oriental Studies, or Ancient and Modern History) at the most prestigious universities, supported by our outstandingly successful university preparation programme.

    Their degrees are highly respected in the labour market.  Classics graduates apply transferable skills of analysis, communication and creativity with great success in a diverse range of careers, in law, the financial services, the civil and diplomatic services, IT and gaming development, management consultancy, international industry, politics, thinktanks, NGOs, journalism and broadcasting, the creative industry, and so on.

“Classics at Westminster is a mental gym, a thrilling adventure among gods, warriors and lovers, a provocative engagement with what it is to be human.”

— Dr Duncan McCombie, Head of Classics

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