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Unit information: Art in the Ancient World in 2017/18

Unit name Art in the Ancient World
Unit code CLAS12365
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Hales
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Traditionally, the history of ancient art is a story of stylistic development that culminates in the achievements of the Classical age, declines in the Hellenistic age and reaches its nadir at the end of the Roman period, only to be revived in the Renaissance. Using the Parthenon sculptures as a key example, this unit will ask why we think about classical art in these terms but its real focus will be on how art works in practice. We will think about how the audiences of the Classical and Hellenistic world engaged with the art around them. What roles did art, particularly sculpture, play in Greek life? Why did classical Greece produce such naturalistic art and why/how did later audiences continue to use the style in new contexts? And why did new styles and themes, that appear to challenge the values of classical art, come into existence?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will:

  • have developed a detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of art in the ancient world; its uses and contexts and an awareness of how these change over time.
  • be able to recognise and analyse critically the major artistic styles and media of the ancient world.
  • Be able to use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own researches to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject.
  • Have had an opportunity to further develop their skills in oral and written

communication, in small groups and general discussion, and in an essay and a written exam.

Teaching details

3 contact hours per week

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 2,000 words (worth 50%), and a 90 minute examination (worth 50%). Both elements will assess ILOs (1) (2) (3) and (4). The coursework essay in particular will offer students the opportunity to demonstrate ILO (3).

Reading and References

M. Beard & J. Henderson, Classical Art. From Greece to Rome (Oxford) 2001

R.T. Neer, Art & Archaeology of the Greek World (London) 2012

R. Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek

Art (Oxford) 1998

J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age (Cambridge) 1990

T.J. Smith & D. Plantzos eds, A Companion to Greek Art (Oxford) 2012

A. Stewart, Art, Desire & the Body in Ancient Greece (Cambridge) 1997