Undergraduate modules in Classics and Ancient History
Whether you’ve studied Classics at A level, or are coming to the Classical world afresh, you’ll develop a solid basis of knowledge in your first year for further study.
All our degrees feature core modules that support the rest of your learning. Each module has two to three contact hours per week combining lectures, smaller group seminars, and interactive learning sessions. You will be required to complete preparatory work, inlcuding reading ancient and modern texts, learning vocabulary and grammar, and preparing presentations.
Below is a selection of core and optional modules in the department and here you can see a list of all our modules.
First year modules
Greek culture and society
This module introduces students of all backgrounds to the vast panorama of Greek culture, from Homeric times to the coming of Rome. It explores some of the most distinctive features of Greek culture and its social institutions, from the polis, festivals and religion, to mythology, sport and the performance of poetry, while encouraging students to consider the degrees of continuity and difference between ancient Greek culture and their own beliefs and practices. The module is designed to provide a framework within which you can develop your own individual interests in the following years of your course.
Roman culture and society
This module explores what was distinctively ‘Roman’ about Roman culture and society, both in Rome itself and throughout its empire, from Britain to Bulgaria, and from the Nile to the Euphrates. The module introduces students of all backgrounds to topics from the late first century BC to the early third century AD, investigating the impact on Roman society of the emergence of sole rulers and dynastic powers, and the gradual opening up of society to provincials. It considers a range of evidence, from poetry to graffiti, monuments to religious artefacts, and is designed to provide a framework within which you can develop your own individual interests as the course progresses.
Ancient thought: philosophy, politics, science
This module introduces students to the breadth and variety of ancient thought – investigating the ways in which the ancient Greeks and Romans articulated their thinking and their beliefs, about themselves and the worlds around them. We survey the cultural and intellectual contours of the ancient Graeco-Roman world from the presocratics through to late antiquity, and investigate not just the origins and development of philosophical thinking, but also developments in scientific investigation.
Encounters with Greek texts
This module, taught in translation, introduces students to many different kinds of ancient Greek texts across a wide variety of genres and forms, including epic, drama, lyric, historiography, rhetoric. The module will also allow students to explore critically the range of methodologies and approaches used in the interpretation of ancient texts both within and beyond original cultural and political contexts.
Encounters with Latin texts
This module, taught in translation, introduces students to many different kinds of Latin texts written in a variety of genres and forms, including historiographical, epigraphic and rhetorical texts, and literary texts in poetry and prose, from the canonical to the marginal and ‘sub-literary’. As well as expanding awareness of the Latin texts classicists study across different sub-fields (for instance, philology, archaeology, ancient history), the module will explore critically the range of methodologies and approaches used in the interpretation of ancient texts in their cultural and political contexts, and allow students to test out these skills in their own responses to texts.
Encounters with material culture: objects and archaeology
This module provides you with the tools you need to approach and interpret the material culture of the ancient world, including buildings, art-works, inscriptions and everyday objects. We look at objects and buildings from their creation to their use and rediscovery, considering issues such as the materials used, production and consumption; style, form and iconography, and contexts of discovery and use. We explore the many questions we can ask of material culture, and the insights it provides into the history and society of the ancient Mediterranean.
Introduction to Greek and Roman history
You will be introduced to the central themes of Greek and Roman history, from the Greek Archaic Period to the beginning of the Roman Empire. You will gain a broad chronological understanding of the ancient world, and good knowledge of the range of evidence and methodologies used to study its historical events and cultural practices. You will also develop advanced skills in analysing evidence, crafting an argument and presenting your ideas coherently and fluently. Students taking Ancient History and Classical Archaeology study this as a year-long module, while others can choose to take either Greek or Roman history as a separate module.
Latin or Greek languages
Ancient languages can also play a prominent role throughout your degree. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to study a classical language, as getting to grips with Latin and Greek gives us insights into ancient thought - including political and philosophical concepts, ways of understanding the self, sensory experience - that we miss in translation. For this reason all first-year students can choose to begin study Greek or Latin. If you wish, there is then the opportunity to progress onto an accelerated course, allowing you to reach post-A level standard and proceed onto reading texts in the original. Those entering University with an A-level in an ancient language can also continue with the language/s, taking advanced Greek or Latin in their first year.
Modules in later years
The Hellenistic world
The campaigns of Alexander the Great transformed the Greek world, creating an empire that stretched from the Adriatic to the Himalayas. Through this module, you will explore the political histories, power structures, cultural developments and ideologies of the period, and gain critical insight into the evidence from which our understanding of Hellenistic culture and history is constructed. This will lead to an increased appreciation of how the Hellenistic world helped shape the Roman world and beyond.
This is the core module which is designed to offer final-year honours students the opportunity to produce research on a topic of their interest. Students on the Dissertation module will be provided a unique one-to-one research supervision with expert academics who will help students to craft their ideas into a significant research paper. This module enables our students to examine and explore any aspect of the Classical world that they found particularly fascinating.
Sexuality and gender in antiquity
The study of gender and sexuality in the classical world is a relatively new field of enquiry. It remains one of the most vigorous and challenging areas of classical scholarship, a battleground where many claims are still contested. It is also one of the most truly interdisciplinary research areas, where theories and methodologies drawn from politics and sociology, anthropology, feminism, psychoanalysis and lesbian and gay studies can all be validly employed. This module studies the nature of Greek sexuality and the position of women in Greek society, assessing ‘modern interpretations of Greek sex and gender’ as much as ‘Greek sex and gender’.
The Roman Empire from Tiberius to Hadrian
This module explores the politics, culture, and society of Rome and the provinces, AD 14-138, looking at art, archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics, and literature. It considers how the power of emperors was consolidated and developed after the death of Augustus, and how the relationship between Rome and its provinces changed during this period.
Africa and the making of classical literature
This module considers the import of north Africa in the shaping of Western Classical Literature in the Mediterranean, and investigates the simultaneous erasure of Africa from the Western Classical canon - an erasure which originated in the ancient Greek and Roman texts and was further crystallised in their subsequent critical history. Over the course of the year, students analyse both Greek and Roman portraits of Africa and Africans (with an emphasis on Berbers, Egyptians and Ethiopians) and the various ways that the relationship between centre and periphery affects the works of north-African authors writing in Greek and Latin. The module explores the history of equating the Classical world with modern (and colonialist) Europe, and the more recent attempts to 'decolonise' the Western Classics. It also considers the effects that preconceptions about the Graeco-Roman heritage have on the engagement with classical literature by people of African descent, both in Africa and in the Western World.
Many of our modules are assessed through essays in the first and second terms, and a final exam in the third term. In addition to this, some modules offer other modes of assessment, including object biography and digital storytelling (Hellenistic World), review writing (Introduction to Greek and Roman History), blogs (Roman Laughter), video presentations and practical criticisms (Space and Place in Ancient Greek Theatre).