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 Q8K307 MA Classics


  • None.


  • Classical Research Methods and Resources (CLAS40130).

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 Classics.


  • 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 be decided in consultation between the student and their dissertation supervisor according to the student's research interests and plans, and the expertise of the supervisor. 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 questions 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 practicing and application of research skills acquired through other modules in the programme. 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); 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 Classics. Since the learning outcomes amount to the student's becoming an independent researcher, 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 their chosen field. Tutorial-style supervision allows focused and detailed discussion of the student’s individual research project with an expert in the field, 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, as well as to explain their own, and in this way develop a deeper appreciation of the wider context in which their work is situated, a wider knowledge of the field and its potential, an insight into methodologies and approaches with which they might not have been familiar. They aslo gain further opportunities to develop (through practice as well as observation) skills of presentation and exposition.
  • The student's presentation to the research seminar will be based on their dissertation work, and constitute part of the formative assessment for this module, with feedback from the dissertation supervisor. Other 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 second Friday in the last September of the student’s registration. 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 hour 5
Seminars 1 1 hour 1
Preparation and Reading 594
Total 600

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Seminar presentation. Other work required by the student's supervisor.

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