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Unit information: Epic in 2021/22

Unit name Epic
Unit code CLAS12361
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Ian Calvert
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will examine a selection of epic poems from ancient Greece and Rome - all studied in translation - to trace the development of the genre from the oral tradition of Homer through the literary composition of later Greek and Latin poets. Authors and texts studied in this unit may include Homer, Hesiod, Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, and Statius. Themes studied in this unit may include genre, gender, myth, the gods, destiny, mortality, narrative technique, oral and literary culture, or paradigms of heroism. We will also reflect on the cultural and political contexts of these works, including differences between Greek and Roman epics.

Unit aims:

  • To introduce students to a range of specific authors and texts.
  • To introduce students to the cultural contexts of ancient epic and its postclassical reception.
  • To introduce students to the principal critical approaches to studying epic as a genre.
  • To give students an opportunity to develop their skills in detailed analysis of literary texts.
  • To give students an opportunity to develop their skills in oral communication.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

1. knowledge of a wide range of ancient epic texts, the cultural contexts of their production, and their reception;

2. an understanding of the principal critical approaches and issues involved in studying individual epic texts and epic as a genre;

3. skills in oral communication through class-based activities in small groups and general discussion, and in written communication at a standard appropriate to level C in an essay and a written exam;

4. an ability 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.

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

Exam (100%). [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. CLAS12361).

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.