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.
Latin or Greek languages
Ancient languages can also play a prominent role throughout your degree. All our first-year students study Greek or Latin at an appropriate level: no prior experience is assumed. 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. Language work is not compulsory after the first year, yet all students have the opportunity to continue with Latin and Greek for the whole of their degree. It is possible to progress from beginners to post-A-Level Latin, for example.
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 analyse 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.
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).