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The Ancient World


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenors: Ben Gray (autumn), Professor Catharine Edwards (spring) 
  • Assessment: a 500-word object or source analysis (20%), an 800-1000-word article summary (20%), a 1500-word essay (20%) and a 48-hour online examination (40%), with a 60% attendance requirement

Module description

The aim of this course is to provide you with a basic knowledge of the history of the Greek and Roman worlds. There will be a particular focus on classical Greek history (fifth and fourth centuries) and the Roman Republic and empire. The lectures are arranged thematically and chronologically, and are followed by classes focusing on a particular aspect of the subject and/or dealing with sources related to the subject.

You will be introduced to the analysis of different kinds of evidence from the ancient world, including texts, archaeological remains, and visual culture. You will also acquire some familiarity with different methodological approaches.

Indicative module content

Part 1: the Greek World

  • Introduction - the world of the polis
  • The sixth century - legislators and tyrants
  • East and west: Ionian Greeks and the Persian wars
  • The Athenian Empire
  • Athenian democracy
  • Athenian religion and festivals
  • Men and women
  • Spartan society
  • Greek slavery
  • Greek religion

Part 2: the Roman World

  • Introduction - the Roman constitution
  • Imperial expansion
  • The late Republic - politics
  • The late Republic - decline?
  • Augustus
  • Nero
  • Men and women
  • Trajan and the army
  • Freedmen and freedwomen
  • Religion

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand key issues in ancient Greek and Roman history
  • discuss the history, culture and politics of the ancient world
  • analyse both primary and secondary evidence
  • assess the conflicting claims made by primary and secondary sources.