Classical Studies Units 3 and 4


The civilisation of ancient Greece was remarkable for the scope of its achievements. Everywhere we look, we see how that society has influenced so much of ours – think about democracy, philosophy, art, architecture, and science and sport, to name but a few. You probably know more than you realise about this period in history. Most of you will have read about ancient civilisations in books and seen movies retelling the stories of gods and heroes of the ancient world. You probably know something about the story of Helen of Troy and the famous Trojan War. You may even have seen a performance of one of the famous tragic plays.

We will read a selection of Greek works in translation and study images of some artworks. When we read texts, or study artworks, our aim is to gain an understanding of the culture which produced them. It will surprise you sometimes that the Greeks were so like us and sometimes they seem utterly strange and mysterious. This study aims to help you to understand who they were.
We begin the course with a short outline of Greek history and culture up to and including the 5th century B.C.E. This is the socio-historical context of the works we will read. Then we study the selected works which are Greek texts in translation. Some works are studied individually and others are studied as a pair for the purpose of comparison.

Units 3 and 4 have two identical Areas of Study and Outcomes. We will begin with a close study of a classical text. You will develop skills in evaluating the techniques used to present these ideas and how the work relates to the socio-historical context.

This is followed by the comparative study of two texts which may be different in form and style. Through comparison of classical works, you will learn to consider ways in which different writers and artists dealt with the same concept. This will also inform you about the changing nature of the classical world.

Who is it for?

Classical Studies has a broad appeal and is of particular interest to those students who enjoy Literature and/or History. Enjoyment of reading is essential. It is for students with a keen interest in learning about the history, literature, society and culture of the classical civilisation of Greece. No prior knowledge is required.

What do you do?

There is a substantial amount of reading involved in this subject. Tasks include detailed written analyses of classical works and comparative essay writing.

You will listen to readings of the two epic poems by Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey.

What skills do you need?

You’ll need to be a keen reader and a capable writer as there is a lot of material to cover in this course.

What skills do you develop?

Studying Classics will help you to develop good textual analysis skills and a sharp eye for detail. You will also learn to identify and comment on the relationship between socio-historical context – the world in which a text was created – and the ideas and techniques in a classical work.




You must have access to the internet in order to access this course. All weekly work will be completed and submitted online.The purchase of the following books will also be required:

  • Homer, The Iliad, Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1998
  • Sophocles, ‘Ajax’ from Electra and Other Plays, Penguin Classics, 2008
  • Homer, The Odyssey, Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1998

Things to think about

This subject is demanding in terms of the amount of reading and writing that is required.
You can expect to spend 6 to 8 hours per week on Classical Studies.

Things you can do now

Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.





Things to have a look at

The Greeks (Part 1)

Excellent documentary about the Ancient Greeks
Episode 1

The Greeks (Part 2)

Excellent documentary about the Ancient Greeks
Episode 2