Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module CLAS42230: The Classical Tradition: Art, Literature, Thought

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS42230: The Classical Tradition: Art, Literature, Thought

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap None.


  • 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 in the sub-discipline of the Classical Tradition for students who have received appropriate grounding in their undergraduate studies.


  • The Classical Tradition, i.e. the reception of Greco-Roman antiquity in later centuries, is a diverse and important field, the object of study across the spectrum of the humanities. The course seeks to provide an overview of this field, with special attention to the following: • the coherence of a central, but usually fragmented, field of investigation in the humanities • the integration and interrelation of visual, literary and intellectual material • theoretically informed coverage that is actively engaged in current debate on a variety of topics, from hermeneutics to gender, from reception studies to cultural poetics The course will also address the ideological implications of the Classical Tradition, such as the relation between high culture and low and the interplay between the Classical Tradition and the histories of scholarship and education.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the course students should have a basic understanding of a diverse field of study and, in outline, the dynamics of ca. two-thousand years of cultural history.
  • Apart from the broad overview, they will also have explored in depth, through individual research, select aspects of the Classical Tradition.
  • They will have encountered a wide variety of source material and learned to assess it critically, with the help of a range of theoretical and methodological tools.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will need to develop the historical and philological skills relevant to the analytic evaluation of a wide range of sources, both written and visual.
  • They will be challenged to construct plausible arguments about complex historical data and develop a wide variety of skills to do with the sophisticated understanding of cultural traditions (such as textual hermeneutics, the function of institutions, or the interface of written and visual material).
Key Skills:
  • The analytical and interpretative skills required for the successful completion of this module are transferable to any field, which demands sophisticated understanding of texts and their meaning and the construction of plausible arguments about historical and literary evidence. It also requires 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

  • The class will meet nine times; class time will be split between survey introductory lecture given by the instructor, and student presentations based on in-depth individual research.
  • Assessment will take the form of one formative essay (c. 2500 words), based on an in-class presentation, and to be handed in after Christmas and one summative essay (5000 words), based on a second in-class presentation, to be handed in in May.
  • Classes and introductory lectures will help the students to orient themselves in the field; student presentations offer the opportunity for early and constructive feedback before the written assignments are due; formative essay after Christmas ensures writing practice and early written feedback, in good time for it to be of use for the summative work.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
class 9 fortnightly 2 hours 18
Preparation and Reading 282
Total 300

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of 2,500 words, due early in Epiphany Term.

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