At present Junior and Leaving Certificates the Classics are split into three separate subjects Ancient Greek, Latin and Classics Studies.
The NCCA has announced that a single subject called “Classics” will replace the three existing classical subjects in the new Junior Cycle from 2017. The NCCA has not yet published the syllabus for this new course. Classics at senior cycle awaits a review in the future.
Find Junior and Senior Cycle Classics syllabuses here.
Ancient Greek was the language spoken in Greece nearly 3,000 years ago. It uses it’s own alphabet that students have to learn and it obeys many rules that seem totally alien to English grammar.
As part of their course, ancient Greek students are introduced to the grammar and vocabulary of Greek. They study the etymology of words and learn to read original Greek texts, such as Homer’s Iliad. In doing so they discover just what the ancient Greeks thought, imagined or believed about the world they lived in, the universe to which they belonged and the gods that they worshiped.
As a language, Ancient Greek is like double-chocolate fudge cake. It looks satisfying and full of flavour but nothing can prepare you for the taste explosion from that first expectant bite. Once you taste Greek you will want more and more.
Latin was the language of the ancient Romans. It seems strange to us today because it is so different to our own language. Take a Latin phrase like “contradicto in terminis” for example. Now there is just no way anyone who so speaks normal English could guess what that means, right?
If you were able to guess what that means just by the sound and spelling of the words then it really is a contradiction in terms because it suggests your knowledge of English alone will help you to learn an ancient language like Latin.
Latin is that friend everyone knows about but few have ever met. He seems to be everywhere and can help you with almost anything if only you had his number.
Latin students learn to think logically because Latin follows a grammar system that is almost mathematical in its precision. The literacy of Latin students is generally far in advance of that of most students their own age because they possess a more developed active vocabulary through their reading of a range of different literary styles, modes and registers. Cognitively their opinions are generally far more coherent as a result, which makes them better thinkers too.
Classical Studies has been a feature of the national curriculum since 1985. By contrast to students of Latin and Ancient Greek those of Classical Studies do not typically learn the classical languages but study classical civilisation through translations of ancient texts, archaeological evidence and architectural remains.
There is such vast scope within the syllabi for students of Classical Studies at both Junior and Senior Cycles that it is impossible to pigeon hole the subject into any one discipline. Indeed a recent survey (brings you to the survey in the resources section) revealed that that was precisely what students value about the subject. Classical Studies is quite simply unlike anything else students ever study in school and that makes it unique.
Typically, a student of Classical Studies can expect to study a selection of Greek or Roman poetry, drama, history, philosophy and archaeology as part of the one subject, which makes for an excitingly creative and fascinating study at school.