Course Descriptions

Standing in the Catholic liberal arts tradition, New Oxford Collegiate Academy offers a STEM-rigorous education that includes four full years of Latin, science, mathematics, history, philosophy and theology.  Students learn by observation, experiments, and directed reading of the greatest authors of Western Civilization.  Students come to see Euclid, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri, Newton, Copernicus, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as their companions in a life of virtue, intellect and faith.  Scripture studies are integrated into the entire curriculum, helping students see how revealed truth completes every other field of study.  We intentionally forgo “electives” and concentrate our curriculum on those elements of a liberal arts education which have been proven to prepare students for personal, professional and academic excellence—and a joyful life of confident faith.

Our tutorial-based approach allows us to offer a variety of enrichments and remedial courses tailored to the unique needs and gifts of your student.  The course descriptions below are representative of our courses for each year, but admit of variation depending on student needs and interest.  We encourage you to be in touch about the many ways we support our students in their educational journey.

Ninth Grade

Algebra and Geometry:  A study of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, as well as classical texts in algebra.  By following Euclid’s method of proofs, students learn the essential characteristics of magnitude or quantity and how mathematical knowledge is captured in language and demonstrated in proofs.  This course lays the foundation for further mathematical studies as a source of delight.  Rather than simply “learning formulae,” the students learn to see the presence of mathematical reality in the world around them.  Courses in Algebra I are also offered to incoming freshman.

Literae Humaniores or ‘Greats’ (European History & Literature): A study of the history and literature of Western Europe and formal logic, the language of thought.  Key texts include works from Virgil, Cicero, Plutarch, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The student develops his or her depth of reasoning, writing and discussion skills.  The nature of both the imagination and the intellect, and the role of each in knowledge and delight, are emphasized.

Latin I:  A study of the “heart language” of Western Civilization and the Church by reading Latin texts, after covering the essential elements of Latin grammar.  Foundational knowledge is absorbed and developed by reading, writing and reciting Latin in the works of classical and medieval authors.  Advanced freshman courses are available for students with sufficient prior background.

Physical Sciences:  A study of science and its methods by reflection on biological and astronomical bodies, the same kinds of reflection that led to the birth of modern science.  In this course, students reflect on the nature of science and how it can be a joyful expression of the image of God through the systematic and disciplined use of our observation and explanatory powers.  Texts include works by Aristotle, Ptolemy, St. Thomas Aquinas, Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo.

Tenth Grade

Introduction to Counting and Probability, Algebra II:  Students take their knowledge of classical algebraic and geometrical method and apply these to counting and probability topics such as permutations, combinations, Pascal’s triangle, geometric probability, basic combinatorial identities, the Binomial Theorem, inclusion-exclusion, recursion, conditional probability, generating functions, graph theory, and more.  Algebraic instruction also continues in traditional topics of Algebra II: functions, complex numbers, quadratics, conics, and polynomial division and roots.  Courses in Geometry are also offered to sophomore students.

Literae Humaniores or ‘Greats’ (American History & Literature):  A study of American history, literature and philosophy from colonial times to the present.  We read classical texts surrounding the founding of the American republic, including its strongest European influences.  Students master the various forms of traditional logic and rhetoric, and build on earlier progress in writing and speaking.  Questions surrounding what it means to be a person of faith in contemporary America will also be addressed.

Latin II:  The students translate passages authored by Cicero and Julius Caesar and achieve an intermediate, expanded ability with Latin grammar, syntax and vocabulary.  They begin to be able to differentiate easily between all of the various verb conjugations and noun/adjective declensions.  Students become comfortable with the subjunctive mood and other intermediate grammatical structures.  Advanced sophomore courses are available for students with sufficient prior background.

Biology:  A study of the “science of life” and its unique methodologies.  A variety of dissections are performed, as students build their knowledge of living things by reading classical biological texts and making careful observations of biological systems.  Students learn the relation of physical matter to biological life through a reading of Aristotle, Aquinas and others. The course seeks to develop students’ powers of systematic observation and explanation under the guidance of their tutors.   

Eleventh Grade

Trigonometry & Precalculus:  Building on prior mathematical studies, students study the basics of trigonometric functions (the Unit Circle, radians, graphs, transformations), trigonometric identities, parameterization and trigonometric coordinate systems, and applications to geometry.  The course also covers the geometry of complex numbers, and vectors and matrices in two and three dimensions.  Courses in Algebra II are also offered to junior students.

Literae Humaniores or ‘Greats’ (Greek Literature, History & Philosophy):  Students read, discuss and write on the most important texts we have from the classical Greek and early Christian eras: Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, and St. Augustine.  In their written work, discussions and presentations, logical argumentation is ready to be supplemented by the application of classical rhetorical principles, a unique personal style and authorial voice.  The dialogue of faith and reason in the life of culture and individuals will be addressed in a special way during this course.

Latin III: After two years of dedicated study, students are now ready to translate some of the greatest works of the Western literary tradition and compose works of their own.  This course involves study, in Latin, of St. Augustine and Cicero. Students also read Petrarch, selections from Catullus’ poems, John Calvin, Thomas More, Jerome’s Vulgate and selections from various catechisms, in Latin.  Advanced junior courses in classical Greek or modern French are also available to students with sufficient prior background.

Chemistry: A study of the principles of chemical science by experiment, observation and following its development in Robert Boyle’s The Skeptical Chemist, Antoine Lavoisier’s The Elements of Chemistry and Isaac Newton’s Principia.  Topics include measurements and calculations in chemistry, atoms and the periodic table, ionic compounds, molecular compounds, chemical reactions, energy, rates and equilibrium, and topics in organic chemistry.

Twelfth Grade

Calculus and MATLAB:  Our capstone mathematics course is a study of single-variable calculus with routine applications in a MATLAB computing environment.  MATLAB is the industry-standard programming language and numeric computing environment in engineering and the sciences. Calculus topics include limits, continuity, derivatives, integrals, power series, plane curves, and differential equations.  No prior knowledge of programming is required to excel in the course.  Courses in Trigonometry and Precalculus are also offered to seniors.

Literae Humaniores or ‘Greats’ (Contemporary Philosophy & Theology): After a long and dedicated preparation, students are equipped to encounter classical philosophers and theologians—and their modern interlocutors—for a wonderful, capstone Literae Humaniores course. Authors discussed:  Aquinas, Maritain, Gilson, Feser, Wallace, Locke, Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, Marx, Lewis, Tolkien, Kreeft, and F.J. Sheed.  Excellent thinking, writing and speaking becomes a routine practice in each encounter with a new text.  The beauty of the Gospel as a solution to humanity’s deepest needs is a primary theme of the course.

Latin IV:  In this capstone course, students continue to read and translate some of the greatest works in the Western literary tradition from Livy, Horace, Virgil, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Along with these more well-known works, medieval hymns and papal encyclicals are also read to explore the prayerful and reverent depth of the Latin language.  Advanced senior courses in classical Greek or modern French are also available to students with sufficient prior background.

Physics: Following our methodology of scientific study in previous years, we study the principles of physics by experiment, observation and reading classical texts.  Having encountered classical mechanics in Newton’s Principia as juniors, seniors are ready to tackle Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory, Weinberg’s The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe, and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Topics include kinematics, conservation of energy and momentum, rotational dynamics, Coulomb’s Law, Gauss’ Law, drift velocity, electricity, magnetism, relativity theory and quantum mechanics.