Ancient History

Explore the ancient world and understand how its legacy affects society today. We embark on a voyage of discovery that takes you first overseas through the incredible story of the cataclysmic clash of two of the greatest cultures of the ancient world - Greece and Persia. Following this, the epic scale of the Greek victory which led to the devastating war for supremacy between Sparta and Athens is analysed. We will then look at the society and politics of Sparta in more detail, focusing in on the contributions that different groups and individuals made to the development of the city-state in the 5th Century BC. The Roman element starts with a detailed study of the Julio-Claudian Emperors - Augustus, the first Emperor - to Nero, whose reputation will be a focus of discussion, through to the invasion and Romanisation of Britain. Where better to study this fantastic period than Cirencester? An exciting and engaging A-level with straightforward assessment. Ideally suited for those also studying Classics or History, or a really good complementary subject for Sociology, Philosophy, Ethics and Religion and English, or possibly a wonderful stand-alone subject for anybody aiming for a university course in Archaeology, History or Classics.

Awarding Body

Available As

A Level

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What will I study?

Greek Period Study: Persian and Peloponnesian Wars

The Greek Period Study looks at relations between the Greek states and the Persian Empire from 492 to 404 BC.  The focus is on Sparta, Athens and Persia.  This period begins with the epic Persian Wars and is followed by the Peloponnesian Wars, investigating the transition from a common Greek culture fighting for existence, to a breakdown in these uneasy Greek alliances after the withdrawal of a common enemy.

Greek Depth Study: Politics and Society of Sparta, 478-404 BC

This Depth Study enables learners to understand the complexity of Sparta society and the interplay of social, political and military forces in Sparta between 478 and 404 BC.  One of the most intriguing cultures ever to exist, the nature of this society still fascinates today.

Roman Period study - The Julio-Claudian Emperors, 31 BC-AD 68

A period of great change in the Roman world, of expansion and the beginings of a great empire.  The characters of this period - from Augustus to Claudius and Nero, are legendary, but focused and objective interpretation and analysis will enable a far greater understanding of this dynamic period than is able to be gained from the stereotypes portrayed in popular culture.

Roman Depth Study: Ruling Roman Britain, AD 43-128

Possibly the most fascinating period of the Roman era, the conquest and Romanization of Britain is a phenomenal achievement and a dramatic story of resistance, persecution and assimilation.  The echoes of this period are all around us - especially in Cirencester! - and Archaeological evidence will be utilised to help understand the huge changes that occured.

How will I learn?

We will study these excellent topics through lectures, rigorous debate and discussion, research and a wide variety of source and essay writing tasks to help us understand the complexities of the epic events covered.  We will also use material culture and artefacts to further research social changes and economic aspects of the periods. Field trips will also be an inherent and important part of developing the deeper understanding needed for success.

How will I be assessed?

AL Ancient History

The question papers in each of the two component groups (Greek and Roman) have exactly the same structure:

  • 98 Marks total
  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Written Paper
  • Section A (50 Marks)
    • 1 essay from a choice of 2
    • Analysis of an Historical Interpretation
  • Section B (48 Marks)
    • Stimulus based question assessing the source's utility (12 Marks)
    • 1 essay from a choice of 2

AS Ancient History

  • Only two elements are studied:
    • Persian and Peloponnesian Wars
    • The Julio-Claudian Emperors, 31 BC-AD 68
  • Assessment is similar
  • 1 hour 30 minutes exam for each topic/component
  • Section A consists of questions 1 and 2. In Question 1, learners will answer a 10-mark question relating to an issue, which relates to one or more of the content points within one of the key time spans.

    In Question 2, learners will answer a 20-mark source based mini-essay. Learners will be required to use the stimulus material on the question paper and other ancient sources they have studied to answer the question.

    In Section B, learners will have a choice between answering Question 3 or Question 4. These will be essay questions each worth 30 marks, requiring learners to use, analyse and evaluate the ancient source material that they have studied in order to answer the issues addressed in the question.

Are there any trips on this course?

There will be trips planned to Rome or Greece on an annual basis and during the Roman Britain topic we will be making the most of living at the heart of Roman Britain by visiting sites like Chedworth and our very own archaeological excavations of local Roman sites.  There may also be the opportunity to visit Hadrian's Wall.

Are there any extra costs?

Trips will be the biggest cost but the annual trip will be voluntary and the costs will be kept to a minimum by the staff organising everything themselves.  Students will be expected to buy a course booklet for each component, which will be approximately £5 each.  There may be a small charge for visiting sites like Chedworth Roman Villa.

Are there any specific entry requirements?

No course requirements apart from standard entry to A-level courses.

What enrichment activities are offered?

We will visit many sites and get expert lectures from academics at those sites.  We will also have access to material from local Museums and our own artefacts from research digs carried out by our students.  Excavation, curation and public speaking are all elements that can be developed through extra-curricular activities.  Research is a key component to life beyond A-levels and students will be encouraged to delve into the subject matter above and beyond the specified content.

Careers Information


Do I need to have studied History to be able to do Ancient History?

No.  It may be useful but it is not a necessity.

Can I do both Classical Civilisation and Ancient History?

Absolutely!  These two courses complement each other very well.  They do overlap slightly in part of the period but they come from a different perspective.