Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • Ability to read Greek independently, to such a level as would be expected from a student who has studied Greek for at least two years as an undergraduate.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • In accordance with the general aims of the MA in Classics, to promote independent reading and self-directed research in the study of a Greek text or texts for students who have received appropriate linguistic training in their undergraduate studies.


  • The precise content changes yearly, depending on the text(s) studied, but typically students will be asked to prepare approximately 80 lines of verse or 4 OCT pages of prose per week, and also to read two chapters or articles in the scholarly literature each week. By the end of the module, students will have read the equivalent in terms of length of two books of epic in verse or two forensic speeches in prose, and will also have read a substantial proportion of the relevant scholarly discussion of those works. Texts which are more difficult to read, because they are in a fragmentary or mutilated state, may be shorter than this.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module builds on the students' sound knowledge of Greek and on the particular texts they have previously read as undergraduates, and it consists of the intensive study of a particular Greek text or closely related group of texts. Since the background of the students varies from year to year, the text or texts chosen will be decided at the start of each year, taking into account the texts already read by the group, the research interests of the instructor, and the availability of interesting secondary literature. By the end of the module, students should have acquired a close familiarity with the linguistic, rhetorical, generic and literary aspects of text or texts studied, along with a comprehensive understanding of the scholarly literature on the transmission and interpretation of the text(s).
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop the ability to discover, by means of independent research, the outlines of scholarly debate on a particular text or set of texts, and to participate in that debate by marshalling textual, linguistic and historical data to support their positions, and to learn how to present a cogent interpretation of a Greek text. Students will also learn how to evaluate and criticize competing interpretations and reconstructions of Greek texts
Key Skills:
  • The analytical and interpretative skills required for the successful completion of this module are transferable to any field which demands the ability to evaluate widely disparate kinds of information, to weigh the merits of competing interpretations, and to formulate a cogent argument. It also requires the effective use of library and IT resources; and good written presentation skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching will be by weekly seminar, each of which will be divided into two parts. The first part will consist of close reading by the group of a set passage of the text(s) which poses a particular difficulty. This discussion will be led by the instructor, and will involve the students in translation and detailed discussion of the passage. The next part will consist of an oral presentation by a student in which he or she summarizes and critiques a work of scholarship that grapples with the problem under consideration in the first part of the seminar, to be followed by discussion of the evidence and the merits of the interpretation. This combination of both modes of participation will ensure that students develop skills of close reading of primary texts as well as skills in evaluating the secondary literature. It will also ensure that students prepare by reading carefully both the Greek text and the modern discussion.
  • Formative assessment will be based on essays written up from the seminar presentations - two during the year. These will include a close reading of a part of the text, along with a consideration of the relevant secondary literature.
  • Summative assessment will be by one 5,000 word essay to be submitted at the end of the year. This exercise will foster the ability to provide clear and detailed written articulation of textual and interpretive problems, provide practice for the use of appropriate conventions and style in setting out written research, and ensure that research and assimilation of secondary literature is carried out at the appropriate level.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 21 Weekly 1 hour, 20 minutes 28
Preparation and Reading 272
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two essays (one to be submitted in Michaelmas and one in Epiphany Term). These essays to be written up from oral presentations made in the seminar.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University