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Ancient languages

The ancient language modules are taught as part of the BA Classics and BA Classical Studies programmes.

Introduction to Ancient Greek

Module Convenor - Dimitra Kokkini

This is a course of Ancient Greek language for complete beginners. Teaching will be based on a combination of grammar and translation, allowing students to understand the inner workings of the language and providing them with the necessary tools to read and translate simple passages. There will be new grammar points to be learned every week, as well as translation practice and simple English into Greek composition.


Reading Greek, Text and Vocabulary AND Reading Greek, Grammar and Exercises (Cambridge University Press, 2007) *NB: this is the latest edition*

Entry Requirements

This module is open to anyone with an interest and enthusiasm for the subject. However, all modules are taught at university level, and students must be able to read, write and speak English fluently to benefit from their studies.


The aim of the course is the introduce students to the basic principles of Classical Greek. It provides a firm basis of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary of the language, through which the students will be able to read and translate into English simple passages of Greek prose.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will have gained sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to approach and successfully translate adapted passages of Greek prose.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching is varied and interactive, including practice in reading and translating Greek in each class, using texts in the textbook and, later, taken from actual Greek documents; with some further practice on points of grammar and vocabulary. Students will be encouraged, especially later in the course, to suggest Greek texts for use in class.

Course Content

(This is a provisional schedule. Changes may occur depending on class progress.)

Week 1: Introduction to Ancient Greek.

The alphabet and pronunciation. Diphthongs, double consonants, accents, and breathings. Grammatical terms, links with English grammar, endings, word order, terminology, translation techniques, etc. Definite article.

Week 2: Text 1A-B (Reading Greek)

Agreement. First/second declension adjectives. Present indicative active verbs in –ω.

Week 3: Text 1C-D (Reading Greek)

Present imperative active verbs in –ω. Conjugation, tense, mood, voice, person and number. Thematic and compound verbs. The vocative. Contract verbs: present indicative and imperative. Rules of contraction.

Week 4: Text 1E-F (Reading Greek)

Adverbs. Second declension masculine and neuter nouns. First/second declension adjectives.

Week 5: Text 1G (Reading Greek)

Prepositions. Particles. Enclitics. μεν and δε. Irregular verbs, present indicative. Complement. Omission of verb ‘to be’ (attributive/predicative position of the adjective). Adjectives as nouns. Particles.

Week 6: Text 2A-B (Reading Greek)

Middle verbs: present indicative and imperative. Contract middle verbs: indicative and imperative. First declension of nouns.

Week 7: Text 2C-D (Reading Greek)

Genitive case. Prepositions with the accusative and the dative. Personal pronoun.

Week 8: Text 3A-B (Reading Greek)

Third declension nouns (consonant stems). Irregular third declension nouns ‘Zeus’ and ‘ship’.

Week 9: Text 3C-E (Reading Greek)

Irregular first/second declension adjectives ‘many’ and ‘great’. Negatives. Idioms. Demonstratives.

Week 10 Third declension neuter nouns (consonant stems). Third declension nouns (vowel stems). Third declension adjectives.

Week 11: Text 4A-B (Reading Greek)

Indefinite and interrogative pronoun. Present participles active.

Week 12: Text 4C-D (Reading Greek)

Present participles middle and contract verbs. Elision and crasis.

Week 13: Text 5A-B (Reading Greek)

Imperfect indicative active and middle.

Week 14: Text 5C (Reading Greek)

Future indicative active and middle.

Week 15: Text 5D (Reading Greek)

Indefinite/interrogative words. Third declension noun ‘the king’. Third declension nouns ‘the trireme’, ‘Pericles’, ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘daughter’.

Week 16: Text 6A-B (Reading Greek)

First aorist indicative active and middle.

Week 17: Text 6C-D (Reading Greek)

Second aorist indicative active and middle. Indirect speech.

Past of ‘to be’, ‘to go’, ‘to know’.

Week 18: Text 7A-C (Reading Greek)

Present infinitive active and middle. Irregular infinitives. Verbs taking infinitive constructions. Comparative and superlative adjectives.

Week 19: Text 7D-E (Reading Greek)

Aorist participles active and middle. Aspect.

Week 20: Text 7F (Reading Greek)

Second Aorist participles active and middle. Intensive pronoun/adjective.

Verb “I am able”.

Weeks 21-24 Revision and Exam Preparation.

General Reading

J. Morwood, Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek (Oxford University Press, 2001)

N. Marinone, All the Greek Verbs (Duckworth, 1998)

J. Morwood, The Pocket Oxford Greek Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2000)


Advanced Greek

Module convenor - tbc

This course further develops competence and confidence in Classical Greek language for those students who have already studied Intermediate Greek or equivalent (e.g. A-Level Classical Greek). The aim is to enable students confidently and accurately to translate unadapted Greek texts, to develop sensitivity to stylistic aspects of literary Greek (both verse and prose), to practice prose composition in Greek and to engage in the detailed study of a range of set texts.

The course comprises revision and consolidation of Greek grammar, unseen translation, prose composition and the close study of a number of Greek texts. Set texts studied will include selections from Plato’s Symposium, selections from Euripides’ Bacchae, selections from Herodotus’ Histories Book 1 and selections from Homer’s Odyssey Book 9.

BA students will be assessed through an end-of-year examination (70%), a mid-course test in January (15%) and a 2,000-word essay (15%), normally submitted in March.

Essential books:

North, M. and A. Hillard (1997), Greek Prose Composition (2nd ed, London), available online for free at

Abbott, E. and E. Mansfield (1997), A Primer of Greek Grammar (London)

Suggested reference books:

J. Morwood (2001), Oxford Greek Grammar (Oxford)

H. W. Smyth (1984), Greek Grammar (London)


Set texts will be distributed as handouts.


Introduction to Latin

Module Convenor - Dimitra Kokkini

This course introduces you to the basic principles of Classical Latin. It provides a firm basis of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary of the language, through which you will be able to read and translate into English Roman drama in adaptation. We will be using the texts provided in Reading Latin, as well as additional material depending on progress and the needs of the class. By the end of the year you will have gained sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to approach and successfully translate adapted passages of Latin prose and drama.

No prior knowledge of the language is necessary.


•        Jones, P. and Sidwell, K. (2016) Reading Latin: Grammar and Exercises. Cambridge [Cambridge University Press].

•        Jones, P. and Sidwell, K. (2016) Reading Latin: Text and Vocabulary. Cambridge [Cambridge University Press].

On successful completion of this module you will be expected to be able to:

  • understand the basic grammar and syntax of Latin
  • read simple (or adapted) Latin prose
  • construct simple sentences in Latin
  • understand translation processes
  • locate, retrieve and process information
  • work in groups/teams

Intermediate Latin

Module Convenor - Robert Machado

This course continues the study of the Latin language for those students who have completed Beginner’s Latin or an equivalent course (e.g. GCSE Latin). The course will cover the grammatical constructions covered in Sections 4 and 5 of Jones and Sidwell’s Reading Latin textbook, and aims to prepare students confidently to translate and understand literary Latin texts in both prose and verse. Students will practice Latin grammar through translation exercises both from Latin into English and from English into Latin, and will additionally (in the second term) undertake a close reading of selected portions of an unadapted literary text, the second book of Virgil’s Aeneid.

BA students will be assessed through an end-of-year examination (70%), a mid-course test in January (15%), and two translation exercises (15%).

Essential books:

P. Jones and K. Sidwell (1986), Reading Latin (Cambridge – two volumes, both essential)
(From January) R. H. Jordan (1999), Virgil: Aeneid II (London)

Suggested reference books:

B. Kennedy, The Revised Latin Primer
J. Morwood (1999), A Latin Grammar (Oxford)

Intermediate Greek

Module taught by: Dr Ioannis Lambrou (

Module Description

This course is a study of Greek language for students who have completed the Beginners Greek course or an equivalent (Greek to GCSE standard). It aims to develop their knowledge of Greek grammar, to widen their vocabulary, and to enable them to master all regular syntactical constructions. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to read and translate unadapted Greek prose and verse texts and to demonstrate an enhanced ability to translate from English into Greek.


Coursework Requirements

Weekly completion of grammar exercises; preparation of passages for translation from Greek into English; translation from English into Greek; in-class and take-home tests.


-       BA/MA Students:

one in-class test (20%), one take-home translation assignment (20%), and one three-hour examination at the end of the year (60%)

-       Certificate Students:

two take-home translation assignments (one in December and one in March)


-       Joint Association of Classical Teachers (2007) Reading Greek, Text and Vocabulary AND Reading Greek, Grammar and Exercises (CUP) *NB: this is the latest edition*


Reference Books:

-       Morwood, J. (2001) Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek (OUP)

-       Morwood, J. and Taylor, J. (2002) The Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary (OUP)

-       Smyth, H. W. (1920) A Greek Grammar for Colleges (available at

Course Content

(This is a provisional schedule. Changes may occur depending on class progress.)






Section 8A-C

the genitive case and its uses; further comparative and superlative adjectives; present optative, active and middle: παύοιμι, παυοίμην; ἄν + optative; ἀνίσταμαι ‘I get up and go’



Section 9A-E

the dative case and its uses; time phrases; more optatives: δυναίμην, ἀνισταίμην; principal parts: ἐρωτάω, λέγω, λανθάνω



Section 9F-G

aorist infinitives, first and second, active and middle; aspect in the infinitive; aorist imperatives, first and second, active and middle; present imperatives: εἰμί, εἶμι, οἶδα, δύναμαι, ἀνίσταμαι; ἔξεστι, δεινός; vocatives; adjectives: πᾶς



Section 9H-J


third person imperatives, present and aorist, active and middle, including εἰμί, εἶμι, οἶδα; future infinitive and its uses; root aorists: ἔβην, ἔγνων; ἐπίσταμαι ‘I know’; principal parts: αἱρέω, αἱρέομαι, πάσχω, φέρω, πείθω, πείθομαι



Section 10A-E

(Part A)

aorist optative, active and middle; verbs: δίδωμι, γιγνώσκω



Section 10A-E (Part B)

adjectives: ἀμελής, γλυκύς; relatives: ‘who/which/what/that’



Section 11A-C

present and imperfect passive; genitive absolute; comparative adverbs and two-termination adjectives; optative of φημί ‘I say’



Section 12A-D

aorist passive; verbs: ἵστημι, καθίστημι



Section 12E-F

infinitives in indirect/reported speech; τίθημι ‘I place, put’ δείκνυμι ‘I show, reveal’



Section 12G-I

‘would-should’ conditions: future ‘remote’ and present ‘contrary to fact’; wishes: ‘would that/O that…’; ὅπως + future indicative ‘see to it that’; optative forms of εἰμί ‘I am’, εἶμι ‘I shall go’, οἶδα ‘I know’; participial constructions in reported speech; the future passive



Section 13A-B

aorist infinitive passive; future participles active, middle and passive; ὡς + future participle; πρίν + infinitive



Section 13C-D

conditional clauses: past ‘unfulfilled’; ‘mixed’; and 'open/simple’ (no ἄν); gerunds (verbs used as nouns): τό + infinitive



Section 13E-F

the perfect indicative active, ‘have -ed’; the aorist optative passive; the use of the optative in indirect speech; sequence of tenses; the future optative



Section 13G-I

more forms of the perfect (perfect indicative middle and passive, perfect infinitive, perfect participle); some irregular perfects



Section 14A-F

the subjunctive mood: present, aorist and perfect; indefinite constructions with ἄν



Section 15A-C

the future perfect



Plato, Apology



Section 16A-D

the pluperfect ‘I had -ed’; imperatives using μή + the aorist subjunctive; verbs of ‘fearing’: φοβοῦμαι μή + subjunctive; verb-forms in -τέος, expressing necessity; the accusative absolute; ὡς + the superlative; ἵνα or ὅπως + subjunctive or optative



Plato, Apology



Section 16E-H

indefinite clauses in secondary sequence; the perfect optative; ἁλίσκομαι ‘I am being captured’; ‘jussive’/’hortatory’ subjunctive; ἕως ἄν ‘until’;

φοβοῦμαι μή + optative



Plato, Apology



Section 17A-B

ἕως + optative ‘until such time as’; (ἀφ)ἵημι; ἕως + indicative ‘while, until’; πρίν ἄν + subjunctive and πρίν + optative ‘until’; διατίθημι, διάκειμαι



Plato, Apology



Section 17C-E

ὥστε clauses ‘so as to, so that’ + indicative and infinitive; numerals; aorist passive imperatives; root aorist imperatives; middle verbs which take passive forms in the aorist; deliberative subjunctives; χράομαι; correlatives



Plato, Apology



Library and study skills resources

You may find the following web links helpful for your studies.

  • For information on the resources available for history students through Birkbeck College Library, including on-line books, reference works, journals, catalogues, and search tools, go to: Note for Certificate and Diploma students: some of the access schemes shown on these pages are only available to degree students. For further information, please refer to Aubrey Greenwood, History Subject Librarian.
  • For guidance on study skills, including essay and report writing, research, and referencing, go to
  • For specific guidance for historians and history students on getting the best out of the internet, go to


Course Evaluation

During the course, students will be asked to complete an evaluation form, which gives the opportunity to provide feedback on all aspects of their learning experience.

Further Information

For further information on issues such as student support, plagiarism, and procedural guidelines, please consult the History and Archaeology Student Handbook available on Moodle: