Latin GCSE

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Latin and the Romans are all around us, from the language we speak to the roads we drive on. Latin helps us understand and improve our English vocabulary but also makes us understand the way language, in general, is structured, has evolved and keeps evolving. Latin is at the same time very different from the language we speak, but also forms a great basis of the language we speak, with a large percentage of English words deriving from Latin.

The Roman Civilisation element of the module allows cross-curricular links with History and English, as pupils have the opportunity to learn about Roman family structures, slavery, politics and elections, baths, education, entertainment, religion and death: fundamental issues which are always relevant. The pupils are always encouraged to compare and contrast those aspects of life with life today and through the ages, so as to come to their own conclusions about how society changes and how it does not. Further links with Drama and Sciences are explored in the lessons.

In year 11, pupils read Latin Literature, which gives them the opportunity to use the skills they have already acquired when studying English in KS3. At the same time, though, in what is not necessarily an obvious way, linguistic features and devices, choice of words and word order, sound effects and other similar features become easier to spot and explore when the familiarity of one’s mother tongue is removed.

Latin is a key subject for the development of research and analytical skills, which will allow the pupils to become independent learners and students who will not only question the world around them but also begin to develop the skills to discover the answers themselves.

Entry Requirements

There are no prior learning requirements. The course starts from basic sentence structures and vocabulary and advances to reading more complex texts and, indeed, original Latin texts in the course of the two years. You need to have a good level of English and an interest in language and how it works.

Course Content

The specification we follow is the Eduquas Syllabus.

Year 10:

The pupils work on acquiring a good level of Latin, and develop and practise their translation and comprehension skills by working through the Cambridge Latin course books and other adapted Latin texts. At the same time, they learn about Roman life with a special focus on the topics specified for examination in that particular specification cycle.

Year 11:

While continuing and implementing the work started in Year 10, the pupils also study the texts for the Literature paper.

Practical Assessment:

There is no practical assessment or coursework for this subject. The pupils sit regular tests (vocabulary, translation, comprehension) according to the guidelines issued by the Department and the School.


The qualification is linear and is available in the summer series each year. The Latin GCSE which follows the new syllabus will be awarded for the first time in summer 2018. All assessments must be taken at the end of the two-year course. Where candidates wish to re-sit the qualification, all components must be re-taken.

The pupils will sit the following components:

Component 1 : Latin Language
Written examination: 1hour and 30 minutes
50% of the qualification

Section A
The pupils will be asked to answer comprehension questions on a passage of Latin to test their understanding of the storyline. That parts counts for 55% of the marks for this component.
They then have to translate a passage from Latin into English. That part counts for 35% of the marks for this component.

Section B
The pupils must either translate a few sentences from English into Latin or recognise and explain items of syntax and accidence for the final 10% of the marks for this component.

Component 2 : Latin Literature and Sources (Themes)
Written examination: 1hour and 15 minutes
30% of the qualification

A prescription of Latin literature, both prose and verse, on a selected theme, together with prescribed ancient source materials (paintings, mosaics, sculptures, buildings, graffiti) on the same theme. This is an open book assessment.

There is a choice between two themes. Themes examined in 2018-2020 are Schools and Education and A Day at the Races.

Component 3 : Latin Literature (Narratives) or Roman Civilisation
Written examination: 1 hour
20% of the qualification

We will focus on Roman Civilisation for this part of the examination. The pupils are required to answer questions to demonstrate their knowledge of specific aspects of Roman Civilisation, analyse and respond to ancient source material and evaluate evidence.

The topics for 2018-2020 are Roman Entertainment and Leisure and Religion in the Roman World.

Where does it lead?

The course provides a suitable foundation for the study of Latin at AS and A Level. It appeals to pupils who intend to study Humanities or Sciences. Pupils interested in Science appreciate not only the links and support it provides for their intended chosen careers, but also enjoy the logical structure of Latin, its academic rigour and the opportunity to study Literature in a language other than their own. Language pupils appreciate in addition the support it provides for learning other European languages.

The specification provides a coherent, satisfying and worthwhile course of study both for learners who do and for learners who do not progress to further study in this subject.

Relevant Books

Cambridge Latin Course
Ashley Carter – Latin Language Tests for Level 1 and 2 and GCSE
Ashley Carter – Latin Momentum Tests for GCSE
John Taylor – Essential GCSE Latin

Useful websites:

There are many websites that deal with the Roman world, Roman mythology and everyday life.

The Cambridge School Classics Project ( offers a great selection of material connected to the specification, including the Defined vocabulary List for Component 1 (Section A), in various formats, and a useful online vocabulary tester (

Take me back to the subject list >>