Choosing a Classical Civilisation GCSE syllabus

Copied from the old blog. Note the date – June 2004. Needs updating.

Whatever happens with AQA and their intention to cease examining Latin and Greek, Classical Civilisation teachers will still have a choice between AQA and OCR. What guidelines are there for choosing one or the other?

I’ve just been looking at the two GCSE syllabuses syllabi
provisions and wondering which I’d go for if I were still at the chalk-face. Ignoring trivia like the literature paper being called Paper 1 by AQA and Paper 2 by OCR, here’s the outline of each:

AQA OCR
LITERATURE
Odyssey 5,6,9,10,12 (Penguin 1991) Odyssey 9,10,21-23
Iliad 1,9,22,24
OT and Antigone (McLeish) OT and Antigone
Bacchae and Medea
Acharnians and Peace (McLeish) Acharnians and Lysistrata
Herodotus
Aeneid 1,2,4,6 (Tingay) Aeneid 1,2,4
Plautus Pot of Gold and Swaggering Soldier (Penguin)
Livy (Nichols CUP) chap 1,2,3
Ovid Met 7,8
Pliny letters
Tacitus Empire and Emperors.
CIVILISATION
Mycenean Civilisation Greek religion
Greek religious festivals Greek athletic and theatrical festivals
Athenian constitution – Pericles Sparta and the Spartan system
Athenian social life Home and family in Athens
Greek art and architecture
Roman religion
Roman social life 1st cent AD Roman home and family life
Roman sport and leisure
The early Empire: Tiberius, Claudius, Nero
Pompeii and Herculaneum Pompeii
Roman conquest of Britain Roman Britain

There’s quite a lot of overlap in what is to be studied even when the titles seem different. For example, the Panathenaia and the Eleusinian Mysteries come under Religion in OCR and Social life in AQA.

Although the Greek drama specifications look similar, AQA examines Kenneth McLeish’s vastly shortened and simplified versions of Sophocles and Aristophanes, while OCR uses th Penguin translations.

For the Aeneid, both specify Tingay’s version.

As far as Roman Britain is concerned, AQA really does concentrate narrowly on the invasion, with details about the army, and battles up to Boudica’s rising. I guess this would appeal to boys more than to
girls. OCR covers Boudica and the make-up of the army, but studies Chester and Hadrian’s Wall, and also Romanisation more generally, with reference to Bath, Chedworth and Lullingstone. I scent popular site
visits to these places!

Speaking personally, I would be loth to lose Greek art and architecture, and site visits in Britain, so would incline to OCR. On the other hand, if I had a class who were poor readers, I might be tempted by the McLeish plays, adding Greek religious festivals (which turn out to be simply the City Dionysia and the Olympics) and perhaps the two Social Life topics.

What have you chosen, and why? Please share your views and experiences.

Meanwhile, I intend to upload some pictures that may come in handy for GCSE coursework.

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