Find out more about studying Latin at Westminster


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

    All pupils study Latin 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 on towards GCSE if they so wish. Alongside our in-house language materials, all sets study various topics of ancient Roman history and literature. 

    The School offers the Latin GCSE, which consists of language and literature components (50% each). For their verse set text, pupils have the opportunity to read an extract from Virgil’s hugely influential epic the Aeneid in Latin; they also read a fascinating prose author such as Tacitus, the great narrative historian of the famous early emperors, or Apuleius, the picaresque novelist of the bawdy and bizarre. 

    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 J282 Latin
    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 Latin.  The literature course aims to broaden and deepen pupils’ appreciation of a range of authors and genres, such as Catullus (personal poetry), Propertius, Tibullus, Sulpicia and Ovid (love elegy), Cicero (rhetoric), and Livy (history); to build confidence in reading Latin; 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 Latin A Level. Pupils read and discuss set texts in verse (usually epic) and prose (history or rhetoric), and practise unseen translation into English and prose composition into Latin. 

    Syllabus & Code
    OCR A Level H443 Latin
    Sixth Form Entry
    Subject requirements for the course
    Candidates should be on track to achieve a grade 8 or 9 for Latin at (I)GCSE level.

    Entrance Examination

    The entrance examination in Latin tests candidates’ linguistic and literary skills. It has three sections: a passage for translation into English; pairs of Latin and English sentences for grammatical scrutiny; and a short text, translated from Latin into English, for written literary discussion. We do not expect candidates to know aspects of the Latin 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 university preparation trip to the School’s house in Nenthead (close to Hadrian’s Wall), and often a Sixth Form (Year 12) 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 Latin and Greek 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.

“Looking for a good time? Try triple Classics on a Tuesday morning. Just the right combination of challenge, culture and comic relief.”

— Blake, Year 10 pupil

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