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Classical languages (SL and HL)

The courses in Classical languages provide opportunities for students to explore the languages, literatures and cultures of ancient Rome and Greece. Latin and Classical Greek are separate courses but they share the same syllabus outline and assessment model. Both can be studied at Standard Level (SL) or Higher Level (HL). Prescribed authors and genre studies for each course are available in the Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme and on the OCC.

The SL and HL syllabus requirements share elements, including authors and genres, to allow joint teaching of SL and HL students. However, there is a difference between the levels in recommended teaching times (150 hours at SL and 240 hours in HL), breadth of study and the assessment objectives.

The course is organized into three parts: study of the language (comprehension and translation of classical texts in the original language), genre study (detailed study of selected writings of prescribed authors from two genres), and individual study (detailed investigation of some aspect of language or civilization).

The syllabus outline is the same for Latin and Classical Greek but the prescribed list of authors naturally varies depending on the language studied.

Classical languages syllabus outline

Part 1 – study of the language

Latin: The study of one of two prescribed authors in order to develop language skills. The focus of this part of the course is on comprehension and translation.

Classical Greek: The study of one prescribed author in order to develop language skills. The focus of this part of the course is on comprehension and translation.

Part 2 – genre study

A detailed study of two genres in the original language (with supplementary reading in translation) chosen from five prescribed genres.

Part 3 – Individual study

Option A: Research dossier

An annotated collection of source materials relating to a topic in classical history, literature, language, religion, mythology, art, archaeology or some aspect of classical influence

Option B: Oral presentation

Reading aloud of one or more passages in Latin or Classical Greek accompanied by a written commentary.

Option C: Composition

A translation into Latin or Classical Greek prose or verse of a passage of English, French or Spanish prose or verse. The translation is accompanied by a written commentary.


Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at standard (SL) and higher levels (HL)
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
  • External assessment consists of a translation of a specified part or parts of one unprepared passage from a prescribed author in part 1 of the syllabus, and b) a series questions based on the genre study (part 2 of the syllabus) requiring students to demonstrate comprehension of set texts, understanding of literary and stylistic features, and knowledge of contexts of the extracts
  • Internal assessment is associated with the individual study (part 3 of the syllabus) and requires students to choose one of three options (research dossier, oral presentation, composition).



Read about group 3: individuals and societies

Find out more

Order IB publications relating togroup 2.


Read about languages in the Middle Years Programme.


"The focus on global issues, world understanding, and the integration of these areas into the curriculum, provides IB students at Lee's Summit High School with a unique opportunity to view the world beyond the landlocked Midwestern United States."

Carleda Williams, Diploma Programme coordinator, Lee’s Summit High School, Missouri, USA