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Unit information: Introduction to Ancient History in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Ancient History
Unit code CLAS12321
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. D'Costa
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Studying ancient history at university has less to do with learning lots of facts about the ancient world than with learning to be a historian, above all by developing a range of skills of critical analysis and argument. This unit does not offer an introduction to the ancient world, a grand (and so vague and superficial) survey of the whole of antiquity, but rather an introduction to the practice of ancient history. It will focus on different approaches to the study of Roman slavery, as a test case for developing and practising the skills, and the habits of thought, that one needs to become a successful ancient historian.


To develop students' understanding of and abilities in the critical skills required of an ancient historian.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students should:

  • have developed their skills of critical analysis, both of ancient sources and of modern historiography;
  • be familiar with the main tools of historical research and able to make use of them to research particular topics in ancient history;
  • be familiar with the conventions of historical writing, in particular referencing, and able to put these into practice in their own work;
  • have developed their skills in written and oral presentation.

Teaching Information

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment Information

  • One essay on 'the scope of ancient history' (1000 words, 25%),
  • Group exercise: encyclopaedia article (2000 words total, 25% for a group mark).
  • Analysis of a piece of evidence (1000 words, 25%)
  • Critical book review (1000 words, 25%),

Reading and References

  • Beard, M., Henderson, J., Classics: a very short introduction, (Oxford, 2000).
  • Bradley, R.R., Slavery and Society at Rome (Cambridge, 1994).
  • Joshel, S., Slavery in the Roman World (Cambridge, 2010).
  • Morley, N., Writing Ancient History (1999).
  • Wiedemann, T., Greek and Roman Slavery: A Source Book (London, 1980).