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Alexandra College


Salvete, omnes!

Welcome to the Classics Department of Alexandra College, where students learn about the world behind veni, vidi, vici and carpe diem, where they come into contact with the Classical civilisations of the ancient past, those of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, of Virgil and Homer, of Cicero and Plato.

Mission of the Department

The Classics Department of Alexandra College is one of the few remaining in Irish second-level education with the capacity to offer instruction for interested students in all three Classical subjects — Latin, Ancient Greek, and Classical Studies.

Why is this significant? The influence of the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome on the formation of modern Europe and the development of Western society has been profound. In order to understand our own civilisation properly today, we must understand and appreciate what classical civilisation was in its various manifestations and how it has been transformed and enriched in the passage of time. The study of the Classics — through the three secondary school subjects of Latin, Ancient Greek and Classical Studies — is crucial in keeping awareness alive of our shared inheritance from Greece and Rome, an inheritance which is the unifying foundation of our European culture.

In particular, through the study of the Latin language students are brought into immediate contact with the ancient Romans themselves — with their literature, history, political and social institutions. From this, they can gain a fascinating picture of Europe’s first cosmopolitan culture and in addition, can acquire an insight into ancient Rome’s continuing influence on the modern world. Students also become conscious of the way in which Latin lives on in languages that are spoken by millions of people today: Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Romanian and other Romance languages are direct descendants of Latin. Knowledge of Latin is invaluable in understanding the roots of these languages and how they developed.

The advantages afforded by knowledge of Latin extend beyond the Romance languages. The English language, while not descended directly from Latin, has borrowed extensively from it over the centuries, with the result that much of its vocabulary derives from Latin. In order to have a thorough understanding of English, it helps greatly to have some knowledge of Latin. On a broader level, the study of Latin will give students an appreciation of how all languages evolve over time.

Latin should be a vital part of every child’s education. Through the study of Latin students will benefit by improving their literacy and linguistic skills and by understanding how the modern world emerged from the Classical past.

The Classics Department on occasion organises lectures on topics related to the Classical world, open to students, parents, staff and members of the public. In cooperation with other departments, the Classics Department also on occasion takes students on trips to Italy or Greece to enhance their appreciation of Classical civilisation.

Aims and objectives of the Department

In teaching Latin and the other Classical subjects — Ancient Greek and Classical Studies— we aim to enable students …

  • to read, understand and enjoy the ancient texts, whether in the original language or in translation
  • to acquire a knowledge and appreciation of the civilisations of the Greeks and Romans through the study of Greek and Roman literature, history, art, architecture, myth and legend, social and political life
  • to engage in a critical exploration of Classical civilisation at a level appropriate to their age and stage of development
  • to become aware of the common European heritage deriving from the civilisations of Greece and Rome
  • to improve their level of literacy in English
  • to make links between the Ancient Greek and Latin languages and modern languages
  • to gain greater insight into how languages work
  • to develop their creative faculties through their exposure to the outstanding achievements of the Classical world

Classics timetable 

1st Year Latin – 3 periods per week

2nd Year Latin – 5 periods per week

3rd Year Latin – 5 periods per week

Transition Year Classical Studies – 2 periods per week (in a seven-week module)

5th Year Classical Studies– 5 periods per week

6th Year Classical Studies – 5 periods per week


The progress of students within the Classics Department is assessed through…

  • Regular written homework (normally assigned once per week)
  • Class tests
  • Class presentations and projects (involving oral explanation and visual aids — e.g. posters, artwork, Keynote/PowerPoint)
  • The Christmas and Summer examinations (for 1st, 2nd and 5th Year)
  • ‘Mock’ examinations (for 3rd and 6th Year)
  • Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate Examinations (for 3rd and 6th Year)