Ancient History (V110): Selected Module Descriptions

First year

You will gain a thorough grounding in Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Near Eastern culture and societies, as well as opening up some wider interdisciplinary perspectives.

Compulsory Modules

Early Civilisations of Western Asia (10)

An overview over the prehistoric cultures of Western Asia sets the scene. In the historic period covered (c3000-300 BC) the principal civilisations taught are the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Elamite, Hittite and Syrian Neo-Hittite (Luwian). Particular attention is given for each of these cultures, as appropriate, to social history, technological advances, architectural, artistic and literary achievements.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Early Civilisation: Egypt (10)

This course provides an introduction to the history and archaeology of ancient Egypt from the introduction of writing and the first unification of the country to the beginning of the Ptolemaic Period. Within the framework of a chronological outline, and incorporating a survey of Egyptian thought, it presents an overview of ancient Egypt’s rich artistic and architectural achievement. The distinctive features of each period will be identified and discussed, with a strong emphasis on visual appreciation and understanding of material culture. The course provides the necessary background for those pursuing Egyptian studies in their second year, and a general awareness of this fascinating civilisation for others.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Introduction to Greek and Roman History (20) 

The module provides an introduction to key aspects of Greek and Roman Classical Antiquity. Students will look at a representative sample of primary materials. Semester 1 introduces key themes in Classical Greece, including for instance democracy, the role of women, Greek education. Semester 2 introduces key themes in ancient Rome including: the rise of empire, the relationship between Greece and Rome, changes in Roman society, the destruction of the Republic and the creation of the Imperial system. Semester 1 and 2 may be reversed depending on staff availability.
Assessment: 3 hr written examination

First Year Project (20)

A series of in-depth studies of key types of evidence (eg texts or other historical sources, archaeological sites and material culture) associated with problems of source analysis and interrogation. These will familiarise students with the centrality within the discipline of primary evidence and the existence of multiple ways of looking at that evidence. Each student will be allocated to a small group led by a member of staff (also his/her personal tutor) who will offer a set of topics drawn from his/her speciality appropriate to the degree programme.
Assessment: 2500 word essay

Optional Modules

Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World (10)

The course surveys the history and archaeology of Western Europe between AD c400 and c800 - the period when the Roman Empire collapsed and the Early Medieval kingdoms started to emerge. In particular, it will examine the interaction of the Romans and non-Roman groups, the movements of the tribal groups, their impact on the areas they settled, and the way that new identities were forged. We will look at how post-Roman Europe was organised - how political and social structures were shaped and what religious beliefs began to take hold. We will examine the way that networks of contacts stretched across this 'new Europe', resulting in diverse trading patterns, episodes of violence and artistic development. Sources used in this course include literary material, settlement archaeology, artefact study and funerary evidence.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Introduction to Greek Literature (10)

The module provides an introduction to key aspects of Greek Literature. Students will be introduced first to the Homeric epics and progress through archaic lyric poetry to the performance texts of democratic Athens.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Introduction to Roman Literature (10)

The module provides an introduction to key aspects of Roman Literature. .Students will be introduced to key Roman texts and authors, including the Aeneid, speeches by Cicero, and some Roman elegy and satire.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Greek Art and Archaeology (10)

This module focuses on the art and archaeology of the Greek world between the Bronze Age and Hellenistic period. It has a broadly diachronic approach intended to provide students with a chronological framework within which specific themes and bodies of evidence will be examined, together with relevant theoretical and methodological approaches appropriate to the study of Mediterranean cultures.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Byzantium and the Transformation of the Roman World (10)

A survey of the history of the East Mediterranean from ca 300 to ca 850 tracing the transformation of the Roman world, the emergence of the (Christian) Byzantine Empire, and the rise of Islam. Lectures focus on the lands, peoples, cultures (including material and visual cultures), beliefs and socio-political history of the Late Antique, Byzantine and, to a lesser extent, Islamic worlds. Critical reading of the secondary literature is encouraged in class discussion.
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Roman Art and Archaeology (10)

This module focuses on the art and archaeology of the Roman world. It has a broadly diachronic approach intended to provide students with a chronological framework within which specific themes and bodies of evidence will be examined, together with relevant theoretical and methodological approaches appropriate to the study of Mediterranean cultures, with particular emphasis on Rome itself but also incorporating case studies drawn from other areas of the Roman Empire (which may include Roman Britain).
Assessment: 1.5 hr written examination

Module outside the Main Discipline (20)