GCSE Latin

GCSE Latin

GCSE Latin is a 2-year course designed to introduce you to the world and language of the Romans. We will study the language from beginners’ level through a variety of grammar and vocabulary exercises, building up to reading passages of genuine Latin from 2,000 years ago. We will study texts from Roman authors, as well as widening our understanding of aspects of Roman culture, such as gladiators, myths and religion, and life in Roman Britain. There will also be opportunities to visit ancient sites in the UK to help bring the subject to life.

Latin is a fascinatingly complex language whose influence can still be seen in the English language today. Studying Latin will improve both your vocabulary and your grasp of English grammar, even if English is your native language. It is particularly helpful for students aiming for a career in medicine, law or linguistics.

Entry Requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course, but a good grasp of English and prior language study (of any language) would be helpful. A genuine interest in the Romans and their language is advisable!

Course Content

The language element of this course will introduce you to Latin vocabulary and grammar, building up your knowledge until you are able to read and write complex passages in the target language. The text module will focus on a different selection of assigned, unadapted Latin texts, which you will translate and analyse for stylistic effects. For 2018-19, the assigned texts focus on family life and relationships. The culture module will focus on aspects of Roman culture studied through a mixture of texts in translation and material sources, such as archaeological remains, iconography and epigraphy. The topics for 2018-19 are Roman entertainment, and myths and belief.


Assessment is by examinations in the final summer of the course. There will be 3 exams: one for each module studied. There is no coursework on this course, and no oral exams as with modern foreign languages. We follow the OCR J282 9-1 Latin GCSE syllabus.

Where does it lead?

Anywhere you want! Have you ever wondered why Harry Potter’s spells all sound like Latin? That’s because J.K. Rowling studied Classics at Exeter University, using her knowledge of Latin to formulate the language of magic in the Harry Potter books. Many actors, politicians and musicians also studied Latin before embarking on their careers. 

A GCSE in Latin will lead you nicely into further study of Latin at A-level, which can then be continued with an undergraduate degree in Latin or Classics. While few people actually speak Latin today, the ability to figure out complex Latin sentences is evidence of excellent analytical ability and problem-solving skills, while the study of Roman culture shows an ability to understand different civilisations and their customs. Excellent written communication is vital in almost every career you could imagine, and no subject will give you a greater understanding of the power of language than Latin.

Reading List

Although no knowledge of Latin is required to begin this course, you can get a taste for the language by picking up any beginners’ Latin textbook. We use Taylor & Cullen’s Latin to GCSE Parts 1 & 2 textbooks, published by Bloomsbury. You can get a more accessible taste of the language through the Cambridge Latin Course series of books, which many schools still use for pre-GCSE study.