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The Ancient World


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenors: Dr Benjamin Gray (autumn), Professor Catharine Edwards (spring) 
  • Assessment: a 500-word primary source analysis (20%), 500-word modern scholarship summary (20%) and 1500-word essay (60%)

Module description

This module will provide you with basic knowledge of the history of the Greek and Roman worlds, focusing particularly on classical Greek history (fifth and fourth centuries) and the Roman Republic and empire.

You will learn how to analyse different kinds of evidence from the ancient world, including texts, archaeological remains and visual culture, becoming familiar with different methodological approaches. Lectures will be arranged thematically and chronologically, and followed by classes focusing on a particular aspect of the subject and/or sources related to the subject.

Indicative syllabus

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.