Ancient and Medieval History (V116) module descriptions

First year

Practising History (A): Skills in History (Autumn Term)
Practising History (B): Approaches to History (Spring Term)

The main aim of this module is to give students a firm grounding in the skills, methods and principles needed for the study of the historical discipline at degree level.

Semester one, Practising History A: Skills in History will offer students the chance to develop their own personal research skills portfolio by giving them supervised practice at note-taking, referencing, group-work, participation in class debate, research and production of a extensive bibliography for their seminar group’s research project. Much of this material will be accessed through a VLE, and the fact that the students will have to collaborate and make research decisions for themselves as a group makes this a valuable introduction to enquiry-based learning techniques they will meet elsewhere in their degree programmes.

Semester two, Practising History B: Approaches to History focuses more on the methodological side of the historical discipline, with lectures on the major schools of historical thought backed up by seminars in which students can see how these schools are represented in their group’s particular project.

  • Value: 2 x 10 credits
  • Assessment: 2 x 2500 word essay (1 per semester) and Plagiarism quiz in Autumn Semester
  • Contact: 1 hour per week (mainly small group)

Discovering the Middle Ages

This module aims to introduce students to a broad range of topics from the earlier part of the Middle Ages understood as part of global history, with a focus on staff areas of particular expertise in political, social-economic, religious, cultural history and material culture. The module will include introductions to topics taught as modules in Year 2 and 3, each framed as a question about some person or concept with which students may be familiar. Students will examine these topics through lectures and analysis of relevant primary and secondary source material, including material culture, online resources and accessible locations, to gain first-hand experience of some of the issues involved in the scholarly study of this period.

  • Assessment: 2,500 word assessed essay and two hour exam
  • Value: 20 credits

Living in the Middle Ages

This module aims to introduce students to a broad range of topics from the later part of the Middle Ages understood as part of global history, with a focus on staff areas of particular expertise in social-economic, religious, cultural history and material culture. The module will include introductions to topics taught as modules in Year 2 and 3, each framed as a question about some person or concept with which students may be familiar. Students will examine these topics through lectures and analysis of relevant primary and secondary source material, including material culture, online resources and accessible locations, to gain first-hand experience of some of the issues involved in the scholarly study of this period.

  • Value: 20 credits
  • Assessment: 2,500 word essay and one two-hour exam

Ancient History Project A and Ancient History Project B

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.

Introduction to Greek and Roman History

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.

  • Assessment: 3 hr written examination

Ancient History/Classics/Archaeology Option module

  • Value: 20 credits
  • Assessment: Assessment Variable

Option modules may include:

Barbarians & the Transformation of the Roman World (Spring Term only)

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.

Byzantium & the Transformation of the Roman World (Autumn Term only)

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.

Early Civilisations: Egypt (Autumn Term only)

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.

Early Civilisations of Western Asia (Spring Term only)

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.

Introduction to Greek Literature (Autumn Term only)

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.

Introduction to Roman Literature (Spring Term only)

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.

Greek Art and Archaeology (Autumn Term only)

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.

Roman Art and Archaeology (Autumn Term only)

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).