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History or classics a-level ????

hi so I’m going into a-levels next year and am undecided on whether I should take history or classics as one of my options. Classics would basically be studying texts like the odyssey and learning about ancient history, society, politics, religion etc.

Its just I think history sounds a lot better and is a lot more useful, and I do get pretty good grades, it’s just I find it hard to cope with the amount of content even at gcse and I really don’t like the a-level curriculum whereas I find the classics curriculum really interesting.

In addition, I want to do English lang+lit and religious studies, but I feel maybe combined with classics that would be such a useless trio? I’m also doing an epq as well as the three a-levels. Idk what to do because everyone is giving me different advice on what to take.
(edited 2 months ago)
Hey, i don't have any clue about classics but i do study History so maybe i can give a little insight into the History A-level? I won't lie it is A LOT more content than GCSE but i feel as long as you stay on top of your content outside of class it's more manageable than some people make it out to be. I'd say you need to make your decision on what you think you'll enjoy more as any A-level is hard but is made easier when you engage with the content. Also, one final point, you may want to pick based on what you want to do in the future and what may open up more options for you, though don't stress this too much :smile:
There are lots of options in History A Level - do you know which eras/topics your school has chosen? You could be studying anything from the Normans to Witchcraft to the Cold War, and anything in between, before or after. Ngl it's a lot of content and a lot of writing. Especially combined with the other subjects you're planning to do. So, I think the best thing would be to decide between Classics and History on the basis of which era you can imagine spending the most time studying and enjoying the most.
(edited 2 months ago)
I've done both. They are both great A levels. They are both content heavy. It depends on the modules you are offered. Class Civ has literature , history and religion/philosophy/belief options and sometimes even Greek Art & Architecture. The types of modules are very varied. History has lots of different types of questions - source based , study over time and some places offer coursework. Class Civ doesn't offer coursework but has History/myths legends etc. English/RS /Classics or History aren't useless - students go on to do all sorts of things at Uni and as jobs (from acting to being a football manager!) . Look at the modules they are offering at your school/college and decide that way. Don't let anyone else make the decision for you and talk to people who have done both courses and to the teachers if you can.
Original post by fullsunjun
hi so I’m going into a-levels next year and am undecided on whether I should take history or classics as one of my options. Classics would basically be studying texts like the odyssey and learning about ancient history, society, politics, religion etc.

Its just I think history sounds a lot better and is a lot more useful, and I do get pretty good grades, it’s just I find it hard to cope with the amount of content even at gcse and I really don’t like the a-level curriculum whereas I find the classics curriculum really interesting.

In addition, I want to do English lang+lit and religious studies, but I feel maybe combined with classics that would be such a useless trio? I’m also doing an epq as well as the three a-levels. Idk what to do because everyone is giving me different advice on what to take.

I do classics and could not recommend it enough! I do ocr and if you want any more info on the specific modules or anything then let me know! I do philosophy with classics (kind of similar to RS) and majority of my class take english lit aswell- so it's not a rare combo !:smile:
What is it you want to do later?

History is only required for (modern) history degrees (and not even all of them).

Classics isn't required for anything, but is useful background for literary degrees and of course classical civ/classics/ancient history/related courses.

For anything else they're equivocal so you can take whichever you prefer.
Original post by fullsunjun
hi so I’m going into a-levels next year and am undecided on whether I should take history or classics as one of my options. Classics would basically be studying texts like the odyssey and learning about ancient history, society, politics, religion etc.

Its just I think history sounds a lot better and is a lot more useful, and I do get pretty good grades, it’s just I find it hard to cope with the amount of content even at gcse and I really don’t like the a-level curriculum whereas I find the classics curriculum really interesting.

In addition, I want to do English lang+lit and religious studies, but I feel maybe combined with classics that would be such a useless trio? I’m also doing an epq as well as the three a-levels. Idk what to do because everyone is giving me different advice on what to take.


Depends on the topic they do in history, personally I take both classics and history as well as RS and there's a bit of overlap between rs and classics, but they're all REALLY interesting classics is just brilliant in my opinion but history is more regarded as more valuable to universities though all are amazing choices to have
Reply 7
hii thank you everyone for replying to this thread !!!! as an update i ultimately chose english rs and history although i kinda wanna change it again 😭 gcses have helped me realise that history is loads of work and content which would just be even worse at level so idk how i would cope especially if I'm not passionate about the content
I'm just gonna wait for my gcses and see how they go and try and make my decision based off that
Reply 8
Original post by scarlettkeeble
I do classics and could not recommend it enough! I do ocr and if you want any more info on the specific modules or anything then let me know! I do philosophy with classics (kind of similar to RS) and majority of my class take english lit aswell- so it's not a rare combo !:smile:

Would you say classics essays are English lit like where you write based on your interpretations of the text and content with high level vocabulary (analysis focused) or is it more fact based, content heavy and unrewarding for higher ideas and phrases like history GCSE which if it is I doubt I’d like to take it.Also, when you revise classical civ is it focused around memory and recall on key info/dates using flash cards or do you instead explore ideas on the content you learn which is what I would prefer. Finally, does the course actually involve mythology and religion/creatures which is my main fascination although rest of classics interests me also, I’m just afraid that the essay writing and the exam of the subject doesn’t suit my style which is what history is( though I love learning about history it’s just the writing style at gcse that I despise heavily). It would be heartbreaking considering I have a passion for Classics
Original post by ar0804
Would you say classics essays are English lit like where you write based on your interpretations of the text and content with high level vocabulary (analysis focused) or is it more fact based, content heavy and unrewarding for higher ideas and phrases like history GCSE which if it is I doubt I’d like to take it.Also, when you revise classical civ is it focused around memory and recall on key info/dates using flash cards or do you instead explore ideas on the content you learn which is what I would prefer. Finally, does the course actually involve mythology and religion/creatures which is my main fascination although rest of classics interests me also, I’m just afraid that the essay writing and the exam of the subject doesn’t suit my style which is what history is( though I love learning about history it’s just the writing style at gcse that I despise heavily). It would be heartbreaking considering I have a passion for Classics

I didnt take history gcse so i cant compare the two. but classics arent so much your interpretation. your opinion is definitely needed as questions may be like “to what extent is Aeneas portrayed as a hero” for example. but you wouldnt write “i think” or “in my opinion” you would use specific reference from the book (the aeneid) and form your argument off that. i wouldnt say “fact based” more so looking and memorising key themes/ideas from the books, which is a lot easier than it sounds. For revision, you dont use key info/dates but it would be more so ideas and themes. Characterisation is a big one, so looking at the people from each book and describing them and using evidence from a part of the book to back it up. the course is mythology based- its looking at books which contain mythological themes and writing questions about them- so i look at the odyssey, the aeneid, and some smaller plays. I hated english gcse and going into this as an a level i was so worried about the essay aspect, but i love it and couldbt recommend it more, especially if you have a passion for classics already. hope this makes sense!! you can message me if you have any more questions
Reply 10
Original post by scarlettkeeble
I didnt take history gcse so i cant compare the two. but classics arent so much your interpretation. your opinion is definitely needed as questions may be like “to what extent is Aeneas portrayed as a hero” for example. but you wouldnt write “i think” or “in my opinion” you would use specific reference from the book (the aeneid) and form your argument off that. i wouldnt say “fact based” more so looking and memorising key themes/ideas from the books, which is a lot easier than it sounds. For revision, you dont use key info/dates but it would be more so ideas and themes. Characterisation is a big one, so looking at the people from each book and describing them and using evidence from a part of the book to back it up. the course is mythology based- its looking at books which contain mythological themes and writing questions about them- so i look at the odyssey, the aeneid, and some smaller plays. I hated english gcse and going into this as an a level i was so worried about the essay aspect, but i love it and couldbt recommend it more, especially if you have a passion for classics already. hope this makes sense!! you can message me if you have any more questions

I love English lit gcse sm!! The essays I felt are more tailored to actual interesting analysis of characters,messages of the story and filled with interesting context. The characterisation you refer to is similar to English so I’m pretty surprised you hated it, also, do you memorise quotes in classics. I’ve also been wondering would you say the classics course is more literature focused or historical
Original post by ar0804
I love English lit gcse sm!! The essays I felt are more tailored to actual interesting analysis of characters,messages of the story and filled with interesting context. The characterisation you refer to is similar to English so I’m pretty surprised you hated it, also, do you memorise quotes in classics. I’ve also been wondering would you say the classics course is more literature focused or historical

its defo more literature than historical but you do need that historical context. its not so much quotes just examples, so you can say “in book 1 of the Odyssey, Athene travels to meet Telemachus in disguise” - thats no a quote but just what happens. you arent expected to memorise quotes at all just the storyline but in detail, you also arent allowed the book in the exam, with english a level youre allowed that. i dont know why i hated english lit so much at gcse i think i just hated all the writing, but i love the content of classics so much its worth it !
Reply 12
Original post by scarlettkeeble
its defo more literature than historical but you do need that historical context. its not so much quotes just examples, so you can say “in book 1 of the Odyssey, Athene travels to meet Telemachus in disguise” - thats no a quote but just what happens. you arent expected to memorise quotes at all just the storyline but in detail, you also arent allowed the book in the exam, with english a level youre allowed that. i dont know why i hated english lit so much at gcse i think i just hated all the writing, but i love the content of classics so much its worth it !

Hey you don’t have to do this if u don’t want to but can u send me any essays you’ve done on classics whether it be in class or homework or anything, curious to see how the answers look

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