Classical Studies

Classical Studies engages our minds and imaginations.

Classical Studies encourages us to make links between past and present civilizations to imagine a possible future. By exploring diverse values and traditions, viewed from our own cultural perspectives and those of others, classical studies prepares us for informed and active citizenship in New Zealand and the modern world.

New Zealand continues to be influenced by the classical world.

By understanding the political, military, religious, philosophical, technological, artistic and aesthetic developments of the ancient Greeks and Romans, we learn how the past continues to inform the present. From the rise and fall of powerful individuals and empires to the creativity and invention of artists and engineers and to the formulation of ethical systems and the evolution of social justice, we become increasingly aware of the debt owed to classical Greece and Rome.

While the study of any civilisation is recognised as educationally beneficial, the case for including classical studies in the curriculum rests on two main grounds:

  • The historical importance of classical civilisation in the cultural tradition of Western Europe, which is an important part of contemporary New Zealand culture. In classical Greece and Rome are the origins of much of our art, science, literature, law, philosophy, politics and religion. Knowledge of the sources and development of a cultural tradition is essential to its continuing vitality.
  • The intrinsic quality and interest of the products of classical civilisation. The Greeks and Romans produced works of the intellect and creative imagination which are recognised to be of the very highest quality and which can still evoke a strong and enriching response in us.

Classical Studies teaches us to ask questions and challenge ideas.

Classical Studies fosters thinking and inquiry skills by exploring classical sources and by debating issues. We not only gain an enthusiasm for classical civilizations but also learn to select, organise and communicate information clearly and logically and to evaluate the reliability of evidence. By learning about the diverse and complex values of these societies, we develop the ability to form and reflect on our own viewpoints, respect the viewpoints of others and make informed judgments based on critical thinking.



Only offered at Year 13. A good pass in English or History at Level 2 is necessary to be able to cope with the amount of reading and analysis required in Classical Studies.

The units studied provide students with a knowledge and appreciation of the selected areas of Greek or Roman civilisation:

  • Virgil’s Aeneid (external) - Analyse ideas and values
  • Art and architecture (external) - Analyse significance of art and architecture
  • Alexander the Great (external) - Analyse impact of historical figure
  • Roman architecture (internal) - Demonstrate understanding of an ideology
  • Latin and Law (internal) - Demonstrate understanding of influences on cultures across time


Skills Objectives

Thinking critically about sources

To understand the complexity and diversity of social, political, artistic, and ideological aspects of the classical world and how these aspects influenced the lives of Greeks and Romans living in those times.

Examining values

To understand how and why ideas and values of the classical world have influenced other cultures, including New Zealand, over time.