BA Ancient History

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Living Latin

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE30390
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


With its approach and its focus on using Latin as a living language, this course-unit is ground-breaking and unique in UK university classics departments. By total immersion, and by learning to use the language in the spoken and the written word, we only aim at one purpose: to make you more able to fully understand and translate authentic Latin texts, and so to get closer to, and more fluent and comfortable with Roman authors’ thoughts and intentions.

In order to achieve these ambitious aims, we proceed as follows:

The first semester is dedicated mainly to independent study, with just one contact-hour a fortnight (plus supportive office hours). At your own pace (though with a ‘pacemaker’ to help you along), you will read in its entirety – as you read a normal book in English – Hans H. Ørberg, Lingua Latina per se illustrata. Pars I. Familia Romana (Grenaa, 2003). A recorded CD and solutions of all grammatical exercises are provided on Blackboard – and once a fortnight you have a meeting with the course supervisor to demonstrate your progress and to take the first steps in speaking Latin.

This pattern continues in semester 2, building towards the highlight of the course-unit:

one week (9 days) at the Accademia Vivarium Novum (Frascati, Italy), the only institution in the world entirely dedicated to total immersion in Latin and the liberal arts OR (pending Government/University advice) delivered in UK or virtually, as a full week’s equivalent experience, led by the Module Director.. During eight mornings (9 am – 1 pm) we read Latin prose texts, which will be explained in Latin. Also, we practise Latin composition by writing simple stories and fables.

The afternoons are dedicated to visits to famous sites in the fascinating surroundings of Rome: Tusculum, Grottaferrata, Praeneste – as well as to a visit of the Urbs Aeterna itself. The guided tours are conducted in Latin.

During your free time in the evenings at the Vivarium Novum, you are encouraged (and gently supported) to converse in Latin as much as possible.


Pre-Requisite: Students must have already passed either A-level Latin or CAHE30182 Intensive Latin 2.


To continue the study of Latin language acquired at Intensive Latin 2/A Level, developing skills of reading prose texts, further consolidating knowledge and understanding of vocabulary and grammar, and developing active knowledge of the language, through translation both into and out of Latin.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will have/be able to:

  • read selections from one Latin prose set text;
  • translate and understand passages from the set text unaided;
  • demonstrate consolidation of an understanding of Latin grammar;
  • demonstrate a deepened understanding of Latin grammar;
  • apply knowledge and understanding in the translation of English sentences into Latin.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will have/be able to:

  • increased their capacity to translate unseen passages of Latin into English, with reduced assistance;
  • show ability in prose composition in the translation of sentences from English to Latin.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to

  • make fast and skilful use of language aids, such as dictionaries and grammars.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will have/be able to show:

  • self-discipline;
  • organisation;
  • developed problem solving skills.


Employability skills

The course supports the development of a large number of important employment skills, most notably the ability to understand, commit to memory, and successfully deploy the elements of a complex communication system. Conscientious study of an ancient language enhances understanding of English grammatical structures and broadens vocabulary, thereby enhancing the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and eloquently. Students of ancient languages also learn how to extract key elements from complex information and to identify, make sense of, and solve associated problems.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Exam (2 hours January)


Exam (3 hours)


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

additional one-to-one feedback (during the    consultation hour or by making an appointment), if desired









Recommended reading

J. Morwood (1999) Latin Grammar, Oxford, plus any good Latin-English/English-Latin dictionary, e.g., DP Simpson, Cassell’s Standard Latin Dictionary (John Wiley & Sons, 1977)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 3
Tutorials 7
Work based learning 60
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christian Laes Unit coordinator

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