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Why Study Latin?

  • The Romance Languages (inc. French, Spanish & Italian) all come from Latin so studying Latin can often help when studying these languages (vocab etc. becomes much easier, although the word order is different).
  • Learning Latin can also enable you to hone your skills in English, particularly in terms of spelling.
  • The Roman Empire was, at one point, the most powerful in the world and the Romans were highly advanced in terms of culture etc. so you can pay tribute to it by learning their language.
  • It sounds smart - very few people have any knowledge of Latin so even a GCSE in it can make you appealing to universities.

Course Format

Qualification type: GCSE
Subject: Latin
Examination board: OCR
Examination number: J281
Exam Information: Language 1 (25%)
Language 2 (25%)
Prose Literature (25%)
Verse Literature (25%)
Sources for Latin (25%)
Coursework information: None
Revision notes: [[{{{Revision}}}|Revision Guide]]
Useful for:

OCR is currently one of two British exam boards to offer the course (the other being WJEC, with their Level 1/2 Certificate in Latin). In the full course GCSE, pupils take four units; two compulsory papers worth 25% each:

  • Unit A401: Latin Language 1 (Mythology and Domestic Life)
  • Unit A402: Latin Language 2 (History)

And two further papers from a choice of three worth 25% each:

  • Unit A403: Latin Prose Literature
  • Unit A404: Latin Verse Literature
  • Unit A405: Sources for Latin

All papers are available in Foundation and Higher Tiers.

Study Help

The best way to learn all the different endings is, from my experience, by chanting them all - crazy as it sounds! After a while "bam bas bat bamus batis bant" just flows off your tongue!

As for vocab, try seeing if there are any similar words with the same/a similar meaning in English or another language e.g. 'si' means 'if' in French too and 'fenestra' [window] is like 'fenêtre' [window] in French or 'defenestrate' [to throw out the window] in English.

Remember to learn every single word in the Defined Vocabulary List. Try to learn the principle parts of every verb. In particular, pay attention to verbs that have irregular principle parts. It may seem a waste of time, but it will definitely prove beneficial when you are sitting the language papers.

Whilst learning the endings of the declensions of each noun type may help you, your time would be better spent on verbs and practising translation, as well as concentrating on your set texts. Learning the declension endings (or attempting to) may just result in confusion during your exam and create unnecessary stress. These endings will be more important at A-level.

For your literature - once you have the full English translation as well as the Latin, go through the English translation, and see if you can match up certain words and phrases to the Latin. Once you do this enough times, the translation will be ingrained in your head. Remember that your mind learns better when it makes connections such as these. Learning the translation off by heart and trying to go through the Latin afterwards will not be as fruitful.

A Level

Why Study Latin?

As with taking any language to a higher level, you will be able to read more sophisticated texts by the end of this course, and not only use your current knowledge more dexterously but also build on it with a wider range of tenses, moods and vocabulary.

Course Structure

The course consists of Language and Literature modules, similar to GCSE. You will study two Roman authors in the first year: one political or historic writer such as Cicero or Tacitus, and one poet such as Virgil or Ovid. This is the same in the second year. The language paper consists of one unseen translation that is adapted from a Roman writer.

Study Help


International Baccalaureate

Scottish Standard Grade

Scottish Higher


The Course

If not applying for straight Latin courses, there are still many other ways to study the language. You can either study it as part of a Classics/Classical Civilisation course, or you can study it as an elective module while gaining a degree in a totally different subject. Most universities offering the subject will offer it at a range of levels, from beginners to advanced. Popular syllabi used by universities include the Reading Latin course and the Cambridge Latin Course.


Part of the application process is building on your interest incrementally, particularly by extending your interest outside of your course. If you can attend relevant conferences (and there are plenty! There are also relevant services, such as Conference Alerts, that will send emails to your inbox according to your preset criteria of what type of events interest you) or read/study relevant books before and during the application process, this will only serve to strengthen your application and enthusiasm as a whole.

Personal Statements

Your personal statement will stand out from the crowd if, as mentioned above, you can show that you have gone above and beyond your curriculum's expectations. If you have undertaken relevant activities, mention them in your PS, and show what you gained from them, in order to further demonstrate your commitment to the course. If seeking to take Latin as an elective at university, this can be summed up in a few lines further down your PS. If applying for Latin or for Classics, you can expand on these activities in more detail.

Study Help

Revision notes

Useful both for independent learners and for revision: Cambridge School Classical Project

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