Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • Elementary knowledge of Greek and of Greek social history and religion.


  • 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 in the sub-discipline of Greek religion and epigraphy for students who have received appropriate grounding in their undergraduate studies.


  • The module builds on knowledge of Greek language, social history, and religion to pinpoint the authorities and ways in which the actual religious practice was prescribed.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have acquired a close familiarity with and understanding of the most important types of sources pertaining to the category of sacred regulations, and will be able independently to formulate arguments and conclusions about the socio-historical mechanisms providing the norms for sacred regulations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop historical and epigraphic skills relevant to the handling of a number of sources (inscriptional, literary and archaeological), as well becoming acquainted with source-specific theoretical approaches and debates in general.
  • They will be able to comment on inscriptions relevant to a variety of major theoretical issues in the field, such as religious agency, norms and transgression, religious aesthetics, theatricality and reciprocity.
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop the analytical and interpretative skills paired with imagination required for epigraphic puzzling. These are transferable to any field which demands inference from limited evidence, and a capacity for reconstruction of other (and sometimes alien) views.
  • Students will also develop skills in 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 fortnightly seminar, which will be structured around a student presentation on the topic for the week. This will ensure that individuals engage in independent research and thought (viz. on the topics for which they make a presentation), and that they gain practice in articulating their conclusions. The presentation will be followed by a discussion in which there is an onus on everyone to engage in thought about the scope of the evidence and the coherence of the interpretation presented, encouraging critical reflection. The seminars are fortnightly and 2 hours long rather than (e.g.) weekly and one hour sessions in order to allow and encourage significant preparation, and detailed discussion.
  • Students will be encouraged to attend undergraduate lectures in appropriate subjects where available and an appropriate source of relevant material - e.g. 'Greek Gods' or 'World of Greek Rituals'.
  • Formative assessment will be based on essays written up from the seminar presentations - two during the year.
  • Summative assessment will be by one 5,000 word essay to be submitted at the end of the year. These exercises will foster the ability to provide clear and detailed written articulation of current interpretations of sacred regulations, 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 8 fortnightly 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 284
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two formative pieces of assessment will be required, based on essays written up from the seminar presentations.

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