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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • In accordance with the general aims of the MA in Classics, to promote self-motivated and self-directed research on the particular topic of the ethos and working of the classical Athenian democracy, within the sub-discipline of Greek History, for students who have received appropriate grounding in their undergraduate studies.


  • The democratic constitution of classical Athens, in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., was probably the constitution for which the word "democracy" was coined; and it is by far the best-documented of Greek constitutions, thanks to the survival of the Athenian Constitution written in the school of Aristotle, and to the facts that most of the Greek literature surviving from the classical period - ranging over history, drama, oratory, philosophy and more - was written in Athens and that the Athenians acquired the "epigraphic habit" early and from the middle of the fifth century inscribed public documents on stone to an unparallelled extent. This course will study the evidence for the working of that democracy and contemporary attitudes to it, engaging with the major problems in the interpretation of the evidence and the treatment of those problems by modern scholars.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the course students should have a good knowledge and understanding of a major body of material and scholarly interpretations of it, and of the working of a political system which offers a challenging mixture of resemblances to and differences from those of out own world.They will have explored in depth, through individual research, a number of major problems within the field. They will have encountered a wide variety of source material, both literary and epigraphic, and will have learned to assess critically that and modern discussions of it.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed the historical and philological skills relevant to the analytic evaluation of a wide range of sources. They will have been challenged to construct cogent arguments and to criticise the arguments of others; and to develop a wide variety of skills concerning the deployment and evaluation of evidence, including relevant evidence for other times and places, and the understanding of how people in particular contexts thought and behaved, and how procedural rules and assumptions offered and restricted possibilities of action
Key Skills:
  • The analytical and interpretative skills required for the successful completion of this course are transferable to any field which demands sophisticated understanding of texts and their meaning and the construction of cogent arguments about historical and literary evidence. The course also requires the effective use of library and I.T. resources and good written presentation skills.

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

  • Teaching methods and contact hours: 9 classes (forthnightly), each of 2 hours' duration: total contact hours: 18.
  • Summative assessment: one essay of 5000 words, due May = 100%.
  • Formative assessment: one formative essay (and students will do further formative work in preparing to lead and take part in discussion in the classes).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Classes 9 fortnightly 2 hours 18
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of 2,500 words (and students will do further formative work in preparing to lead and take part in discussion in the classes).

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