Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module CLAS42630: Latin Text Seminar on Roman Epic

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS42630: Latin Text Seminar on Roman Epic

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


  • Ability to read Latin independently, to such a level as would be expected from a student who has studied Latin 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 Roman epic for students who have received appropriate linguistic training in their undergraduate studies.
  • In accordance with the aims of the MA pathway in Ancient Epic, to promote in-depth study of Roman epic, its relationship to Greek models, its self-definition against other genres of poetry, and its development in the course of time.


  • The precise content changes yearly, but will always be based on a selection of Roman epic texts. Typically students will be asked to prepare approximately 100 lines of verse per fortnightly seminar, and also to read selections from the scholarly literature and from other relevant primary texts each fortnight. By the end of the module, students will have read the equivalent in terms of length of one book of epic, and will also have read a substantial proportion of the relevant scholarly discussion on the selected text.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module builds on the students' knowledge of Latin and on the particular texts they have previously read as undergraduates, and it consists of the intensive study of Roman epic. By the end of the module, students should have acquired a close familiarity with the linguistic, rhetorical, generic and literary aspects of the texts under examination. They should be able to relate them to ancient Greek models, and to discuss them in relation to other genres of poetry. They should also have a comprehensive understanding of the scholarly literature on the transmission and interpretation of the texts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop the ability to discover, by means of independent research, the outlines of scholarly debates on Roman epic, and to participate in those debates by marshalling textual, linguistic and historical data to support their positions, and to learn how to present a cogent interpretation of the texts under examination. Students will also learn how to evaluate and criticize competing interpretations and reconstructions of Roman epic poetry.
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 oral and 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 led by the instructor at first and then by each of the students in turn. The seminar leader will preside over the reading and discussion of a particular section of the text, which will ensure that individuals engage in independent research and thought, as well as providing the opportunity to develop skills of oral presentation. During the discussion 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 seminar leader will be able to take this material and rework it further in the written assignments. 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.
  • Formative assessment will be based on an essay on a specific aspect of the text and on a practice commentary on a passage of the text (of about 100 lines), written up from the seminar presentations.
  • Summative assessment will be by one 5,000-word submission comprising: a short introductory essay on a key issue in the interpretation of the text being commented upon and a commentary on about 100 lines of the text. Submissions should demonstrate the connection between close reading (as exemplified by the commentary) and overall discussions of key aspects of Roman epic (as explored in the essays).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 Fortnightly 2 hr 16
Preparation and Reading Time 284

Summative Assessment

Component: Commentary assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentary on Roman Epic. 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Practice commentary and introductory essay. These will 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