The Student Room Group

A Level Classical Civilisation

Im about to start studying my level classical civilisation course, and (other than common knowledge) am a complete newbie to it!
I not too sure how this site works yet, but if anyone is willing to help or give tips (either now or in the future) please let me know!

Its online studying so Im all solo pretty much, and YouTube videos can only go so far lol
Reply 1
Glad to hear you are studying class civ. I didn't do it myself, I did A Level Classical Greek (not very well as it turned out) before doing Classics at uni.

Have you checked the A-Level specification? If this is the OCR qualification, then I think this is the right one. It provides a lot of useful detail of the specific topics and themes you're expected to know for each of the components within the A-Level that you study (see in particular pages 9-14, 16-31, and 33-44). Obviously which of those pages is relevant to you depends on which components you select. (Have you decided?)

If I were you I would use those topics and themes as a guide to prioritise and select the way you study. There are some useful reading suggestions at the back of the specification (pages 59-61).

Besides those books, there are some good online resources. I would encourage you to start with very general overview-type stuff which gives you a broad idea of the literature and the topics you're studying.

I see that you have to study one of either the Iliad, the Odyssey or the Aeneid. Here is a good series of lectures on the Aeneid which is packed with info and not hard to read. Have you got access to the Oxford Classical Dictionary online? If so, and if you choose Iliad or Odyssey instead, read their entry on 'Homer'. (If you haven't got access, lmk and I can send you the article if interested, along with any others you need). Wikipedia entries on individual Greek plays are generally quite good quality and worth reading as a starting point.

Take it from me as someone who barely survived two university degrees: you do NOT have time to read every book in full that looks relevant, or every book listed in the specification. And you don't need to. And reading will probably take longer than you think. You must be ruthless about how much time you spend reading. Don't sit down with a book, start at page 1 and keep going until you run out of time/patience. Before you start reading, check in with yourself about why you're reading it, and what specific points in the specification you are reading it for. Use the contents and index to find the right pages in the book. Read them, make notes, then put it down and move on. Resist the temptation to keep reading because something took your interest.

A hack I learned at uni to save time reading books is to read book reviews instead of the whole book. Often these contain useful summaries of the book's argument. You may not have access to reviews in most academic journals, but one journal, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, posts them publicly online here. You can search for the book name in the search box on the right (it helps if you add the author's name - I didn't do this to start with and failed to find a review, even though it was on the site). For example, here is a review of one of the books OCR lists as suggested reading on the topic of barbarians (note that only a small part of the book actually deals with that topic). Whether you need to open the book itself or you can stop at the review will depend on what you need to know. The specification will help you there.

Hope this helps. As I say, I didn't study it myself so other peeps will probably have more targeted advice.
(edited 4 months ago)

Quick Reply