Classical Studies, Greek & Latin

Mr Dugal McCrow, Principal Teacher


Learn about the value of Latin in this TED talk.

Latin is the root language of French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian, and partially English. It has some very complicated grammar rules and is taught in quite a different way to the modern languages – that is, the translations in the textbooks are less about buying sausages at the butcher’s, and more about more Roman things, like gladitorial combat, epic battles, gods and monsters. There are lunchtime clubs, or seniors can take it as an exam subject, at N3/4/5, Higher or Advanced Higher. If you wish to study it at lunchtimes, please come to speak to Mr McCrow to arrange which day you should come.

You will work through the Ecce Romani textbooks, which are set about the Cornelii family, comprised of Gaius Cornelius, his wife Aurelia, and their children, Marcus and Cornelia. There are also Cornelia’s friend Flavia, Marcus’ friend Sextus, and the children’s tutor, Eucleides. Also, if you want to do a National or Higher qualification, you will also need to study a text by two of the classical writers below:

  • Ovid (Metamorphoses, about myths)
  • Catullus (Carmina, love poetry)
  • Cicero (In Verrem, about a trial)
  • Virgil (Exerpts from the Aenied, an epic story of heroism, love and strife)
  • Pliny (Letters)

Also, in 2015 two S2 students gained A grades in SQA exams after two years of study at Latin Club. Studying Latin is lots of fun and really helps your literacy skills in not only English, but also French, Spanish, et cetera. It also makes it easier to learn complicated plant names in Science! And in 2014 we even received a reply to a letter we sent (in Latin with a cover sheet of English) to Professor Mary Beard, who teaches Classical Studies at Cambridge University. To see a scan of the letter, click here: MaryBeard

See to find out more about what each qualification entails.

Classical Studies

Classical Studies is a lot like History, only ancient. As in, Ancient Greece and Rome. It is, as the name suggests, the study of the literature of Greece and Rome, and lots more! You also learn lots about what it was like to live in either Rome or Greece back then, and you study the many gods and goddesses of the Greek Pantheon.

National 5

At N5 level, the deities you study are Athena (goddess of wisdom) and Dionysus (god of wine and theatre), as well as the general concept of Athenian democracy. You also have to write an assessment on whatever part of classics most interests you and isn’t already sufficiently covered in the course.

Something else you will study is the subject of either Roman Britain or Pompeii. This includes finding out what it was like to live there, and for the latter, what it was like to be there when Vesuvius erupted.

Also, there are set texts for each Classical Studies level – for N5 the set text is Oedipus Rex, which is the first of the Theban Plays by Sophocles, a tragedy about a man who is cursed to kill his father and marry his mother. However, it is also always a good idea to look at other ancient texts as well so that you have more than one choice for what source you use when in the exam. Oedipus is just the one that you have to study. You will be able to borrow copies of these plays from the department (in other words, from Art).


At Higher level you study Power and Freedom in Greece and Rome, there is a further look into religion and belief, no longer centred on any individual gods, and the set texts (in translation) are the Aeneid,  Antigone, the third Theban Play, and another tragedy, this time about a woman, Medea, who defies the laws of her king and pays the ultimate price. Like N5 and Advanced Higher, you will also investigate the many parallels and differences between the ancient and modern worlds.

Advanced Higher

At this stage, the course is primarily an in depth study of a specific area of ancient history, (a little like the assignment for N5) culture, philosophy or literature. The main option we study is ‘Heroes and Heroism’, which is looking at Homer, tragedy, Virgil and Ovid in a similar way to English. Other options that are closer to history, politics and/or philosophy are available to any interested pupils and include support from Mr O’Brien as well as Mr McCrow.

To find out more about Classical Studies and see examples of past papers, see or just come and ask!


Some pupils are learning ancient Greek with Mr McCrow. There are SQA units available to take at Higher or Intermediate level for anyone interested in adding a very rare, but valuable skill to their CV and UCAS statement.