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Unit information: What Does it Mean to be Human? II: From Modern to Ancient in 2021/22

Unit name What Does it Mean to be Human? II: From Modern to Ancient
Unit code AFAC10006
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. John McTague
Open unit status Not open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to introduce students to a broad range of topics from, and some of the intellectual questions raised by, disciplines across the Faculty of Arts. It further aims to help students develop a range of skills required for study in the Arts and Humanities and to gain an understanding of how particular disciplines may be studied in more depth at undergraduate level. The unit will use the academic content it provides as the vehicle for this development of these skills.

In more detail, the unit has the following aims:

• To introduce students to significant events, movements, ideas, and works of arts, literature, philosophy, and music from Antiquity and the medieval period through to the nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on understanding how these historical episodes and works contributed to our present day society and its culture.

• To introduce students to primary and secondary source material; to introduce them to the skills required to analyse and evaluate the primary material, to understand the secondary material and critically evaluate it, and to formulate their own ideas in response to this.

• To introduce students to the various disciplines in the Faculty of Arts from which they may wish to choose an undergraduate course as a result of progression from the Foundation Year in the Arts and Humanities.

• To introduce students to seminar-style discussion lead by a member of academic staff, and to help them develop the skills required to contribute productively in these discussions.

• To help students develop certain skills required for study in the Arts and Humanities, such as writing an essay, critical thinking, or responding to feedback.

• To help students develop an understanding of how to present written work in a style appropriate to undergraduate study and to introduce them to relevant academic conventions.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

(1) good knowledge and understanding of some of the major episodes in the history of ideas from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century;

(2) ability to relate these episodes to our current society and its culture;

(3) the acquisition of relevant skills, such as, essay writing, critical thinking, responding to feedback, contributing to seminar-style discussions, and critical appraisal of philosophical arguments, works of music, art, and literature, theological texts, and historical documents.

(4) an understanding of the aims and academic content of a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities.

(5) an understanding of how to present written work to an appropriate standard for undergraduate study and of relevant academic conventions.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, 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

2 x written assessments of 1,500 words in total (each as 50% of unit mark).

The written work will assess ILOs (1), (2) and (4) and it will also assess many components of ILO (3), especially essay writing, critical thinking and critical appraisal skills. An attempt will be required for each assessment. The work should be presented to a standard appropriate for undergraduate study and should show evidence of an understanding of relevant academic conventions (5).


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. AFAC10006).

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.