Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to Q8K607


  • None.


  • Classical Research Methods and Resources (CLAS 40130).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To foster development of research skills and, in accordance with the general aims of the programme, to help prepare students for independent academic research in the field of Classics in general, and Ancient Historiography in particular.


  • Supervisions, according to a pattern agreed between student and supervisor; regular attendance at designated research seminar.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The topic of the dissertation will lie within the field of ancient historiography. It will be decided in consultation between the student and their dissertation supervisor, who will be an ancient historiography specialist. The student will be expected to develop and demonstrate in the dissertation good knowledge of the primary evidence relevant to their topic and the argument the develop, of the scholarly status quaestionis and relevant secondary literature, and of the research methodologies appropriate to the material and topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The dissertation provide the major focus for the practising and application of research skills acquired through other modules in the programme, especially those relevant to higher research in ancient historiography. Students are expected to demonstrate in it the ability to handle relevant evidence-types with a reasonable level of theoretical sophistication (including reflective awareness of methodology) and logical clarity; the ability to develop and locate work in a wider, reflective theoretical context; the ability to engage with 'unmediated' primary evidence, including ancient texts in the original languages; and the ability to locate and access relevant secondary literature, including, where relevant, secondary literature written in other modern languages; and the ability to plan larger-scale research projects on the basis of good bibliographical skills and reflective awareness of available methodologies.
Key Skills:
  • Successful completion of the dissertation requires effective time management and the capacity to plan a major piece of work over a long period of time; the effective use of libraries, and IT resources; the ability to engage in reflective and self-directed learning; the ability express the findings of research in clear written form, and according to appropriate stylistic conventions.

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

  • Summative assessment for the module is by 12,000 - 15,000 word dissertation, intended to represent a substantial enough piece of independent research relative to the length of the programme to allow the student to demonstrate the full range of their skill in research and written presentation, and their capacity for further independent research in the field of ancient historiography. Since the learning outcomes amount to the student’s becoming an independent researcher in this field, and since the module is intended to drawn on skills and knowledge acquired in other modules and, in particular, is very closely integrated with the Classical Research Methods and Resources module, the teaching and learning context for the dissertation is more one of student support than information delivery. Every student is allocated a supervisor, who will be an expert in ancient historiography. Tutorial-style supervision allows focused and detailed discussion of the student’s individual research project, and allows high-quality and specific guidance on relevant materials and methodologies, and personalised feedback on the progress of the argument. Supervisions are expected to cover matters such as the evidence and scholarly context of the student’s work, the theoretical analysis they bring to the primary evidence, and the manner in which their conclusions are written up and presented.
  • Contact with the dissertation supervisor is complemented by required attendance at the designated Department research seminar series (currently the Work in Progress Seminar), to which the student may be invited to make a presentation. Students are thereby encouraged to engage with other research projects, and in this way develop a deeper appreciation of the wider context of Classical Studies in which their work in ancient historiography is situated, and an insight into methodologies and approaches with which they might not have been familiar. Those who present material also gain opportunities to develop (through practice as well as observation) skills of presentation and exposition.
  • Formative work will be required in the form of drafts for the dissertation itself, or other preparatory work required by the supervisor. (The supervisor shall not, however, be allowed to comment on the final draft of the dissertation.)
  • The dissertation is to be submitted no later than the date specified by the Graduate School Office. One hard copy must be submitted, and one electronic copy. The word limit of 12,000 - 15,000 words includes footnotes, appendices &c. (unless specific dispensation has been allowed, for example to include primary texts in appendices), but excludes the abstract and the bibliography.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 5 As agreed 1 hr 5
Seminars 20 Weekly 1 hr 20
Preparation and Reading 575
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation (Ancient Historiography) 15,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

There is no formative assessment in this module, though of course the student will receive feedback on drafts of, or other preparatory work for, the dissertation, as presented for discussion at each tutorial. They will also receive feedback on an oral presentation of their work made to the designated 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