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Unit information: Peoples and Places: Knowing the Ancient World in 2021/22

Unit name Peoples and Places: Knowing the Ancient World
Unit code CLAS30047
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Edwin Shaw
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The societies of the classical world were profoundly shaped by contact with "outsiders": Greek and Roman identities were themselves defined against other cultures and peoples of the Mediterranean. The wider "known world" of the Mediterranean and beyond remained a subject of fascination to both Greek and Roman writers from Homer through to Late Antiquity. But what did ancient authors actually know about the world and peoples which surrounded them? This module explores the ways in which Greeks and Romans constructed and deployed knowledge about the world, particularly via the textual means of ethnography and geography (writings about peoples and places), and considers the ways in which discourses about other peoples and places shaped their own societies and attitudes. It focuses on themes of identity and power, and engages critically with the limitations and ideological dimensions of Greek and Roman knowledge about the world. It also offers an opportunity to read a range of unusual and interesting texts, from the Greek sailors' handbook of Pseudo-Skylax and early texts of Greek medicine through to the late Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.

This unit therefore aims to:

  • Provide students with a detailed knowledge and understanding of Greek and Roman sources which illustrate how they understood other cultures and peoples.
  • Encourage reflection on the ways in which those sources can be used to shed light on issues of identity and knowledge.
  • Further develop skills in oral and written communication.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Analyse key primary sources relating to Greek and Roman perceptions of other cultures and peoples.
  2. Evaluate those sources in light of the contexts in which they were composed.
  3. Reflect intelligently on issues of identity and power in the ancient world.
  4. Construct a persuasive argument appropriate to level H.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class and small-group discussion, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

Summative Assessments:

1 x 3,000 word essay (100%, testing ILOs 1-4).


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. CLAS30047).

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.