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Alexander the Great - Essays



FIRST ESSAY: deadline for submission is Monday 14 November. Essays are to be handed in to the Departmental Office, room 222, by 12.00 noon.

Assessed essay titles, autumn term:

1) How important is hunting and drinking in Macedonian culture?

2) Do the royal tombs of Vergina tell us anything about Macedonia that we did not know before their discovery?

3) How important a role do women seem to play in Macedonian society?

4) Did the League of Corinth limit Greek freedom?


SECOND ESSAY: deadline for submission is Tuesday 31 January. Anonymised essays are to be handed in to the Departmental Office, room 222, by 12.00 noon.

Assessed essay titles, spring term:

1) Can the contradictions between Arrian and the Vulgate be satisfactorily resolved?

2) Why was Alexander's army so successful?

3) Did Alexander seek to harmonize Macedonians and Asians?

4) Is the word 'terror' appropriate to describe the last years of Alexander's reign?



If you think that you will have difficulty in meeting a deadline, it is vital to inform either the Head of Department or the Director of Undergraduate Studies well in advance; otherwise you will be penalized in line with University policy (deduction of 5% per day). You will almost certainly be required to provide medical evidence or a letter proving exceptional circumstances.

Extensions are almost never granted for:

  • a. coincidence of essay deadlines for different modules
  • b. problems with computers or printers


  • c. availability of books

Deadlines are announced well in advance and it is your responsibility as students to organize your work to ensure that you meet your different commitments in the time allowed. These measures may seem draconian but they have been introduced at the request of students who thought it was unfair if extensions were granted too readily or without documentation.


On submission of all assessed work, students are required to sign a statement to the effect that the submission represents their own work, with no unacknowledged or disguised quotations taken from secondary sources. For more information see the Departmental Handbook.


The key point to remember is that you are NOT supposed to present ‘the right answer’ to the question, with ‘illustrative’ material from ancient sources and modern authors, but TO PRESENT YOURSELF AS INVESTIGATING A RIGHT ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, gathering relevant data interpreting it, comparing modern scholars’ interpretations, analysing how those interpretations were arrived at, how and why they differ, and finally drawing your own conclusions. Every page should have references to ancient materials and/ or to modern authors. There should be few claims which are not supported by references. Feel free to use the 'Essay check-list' at the end of your Module Booklet to assess your own work before submitting it.

Criteria for Assessment

1. Presentation: Marks will be awarded for good English expression; points will be deducted for poor presentation, including poor grammar and spelling. Marks will be awarded for correct presentation of footnotes and bibliography [for which see Departmental Guide to Essay-Writing, a relevant excerpt from which is appended below].

2. Clarity of analysis: Marks will be awarded for work which is organised coherently on the basis of arguments and deducted for work which is incoherent or presents a mass of amorphous material. The case the student is arguing should be clear to the assessor in every paragraph - don't fall automatically into a chronological arrangement of your material, or a line by line examination of a text, unless you are making a specific point, narrowly argued, about development or change over time.

3. Primary data: Marks will be awarded for good use of a range of ancient texts and other materials – inscriptions, images, coins, archaeology etc. - and deducted for unsubstantiated arguments and opinions. Marks will be awarded for pertinent quotation and for thoughtfulness about its usefulness as evidence. Don’t use quotations of primary materials or images merely as illustrations. Think about what contribution they make to your argument, what role they play as evidence, where the producers of the text or artefact are 'coming from'.

4. Secondary material: Marks will be awarded for isolating the main issues and debates in modern scholarship on the subject. Marks will be deducted for overdependence on a single unquestioned modern authority. Think also about where modern scholars are 'coming from', e.g. by reading reviews of their work from JSTOR, bmcr, or Project Muse.

5. Originality and Sophistication: Marks will be awarded for thoughtfulness, well-founded scepticism and original ideas which attempt to surpass the issues and debates found in modern discussions in order to take the argument in a new direction.