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Unit information: The Persian Empire in 2021/22

Unit name The Persian Empire
Unit code CLAS30010
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Knippschild
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The Graeco-Persian Wars are the beginning of the western tradition of Orientalism, the point of origin of preconceived archetypes describing the East as fundamentally different from and weaker than the West. The aim of this unit is to guide students towards the in-depth study of key events in the history of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and key aspects of its rich and varied culture. Special attention will be placed on understanding the creation of the first truly multi-cultural empire of the ancient world and of the politics behind it, such as the so-called first charter of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder. We will also study the intercultural communication and the mutual influences between East and West before turning to the culture clash between Persians and Greeks and Herodotus’ Histories, which constitute one of the roots of modern Orientalism. Finally, we will look at the reception of the Persian Empire in art and literature up to the present.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have:

  1. developed a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the history and culture of the Persian Empire.
  2. had some experience in handling and evaluating extracts from key pieces of literary and material historical sources concerning the Persian Empire.
  3. demonstrated the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument.

Teaching Information

This unit will involve a combination of independent investigative activities, long- and short-form lectures, and discussion. Students will be expected to engage with materials and participate on a weekly basis. Feedback will be provided for both formative and summative assessments, and this will be supported by meetings with tutors.

Assessment Information

3,000 word essay (100%).


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. CLAS30010).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.