Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • Some knowledge of Latin poetry, and some work in literature at Level 3 is normally required.


  • 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 Latin literature for students who have received appropriate literary grounding in their undergraduate studies.


  • (1) Reading Propertius 1.1
  • Detailed reading of Propertius 1.1 (in Latin and a variety of translations, to be distributed by module leader); consideration of the themes, techniques and textual transmission of Latin Love Elegy
  • Propertius 1.1; the ‘new Gallus’ fragment; Catullus
  • Lyne (1980); Booth (1999); Ross (1975)
  • (2) Mythology in Propertius 1
  • How and to what effect does Propertius connect mythology to the personal in his poetry? What is new and distinctive about his treatment of myth?
  • Propertius 1.1, Catullus 68 b, Sappho fr. 16
  • (3) Propertius and politics
  • How does Propertius respond to contemporary political figures, thought and events? How far does the evidence support the idea that Propertius’ poetry on such themes is influenced by patronage?
  • (4) Propertius and poetics (Books 1-3)
  • What is Propertius’ poetic programme, and what authors have influenced this?
  • (5) Tibullus’ place within the genre
  • His place in the genre of Latin Love Elegy; to what extent is he in dialogue with the other elegists? What other factors influence his work?
  • Cairns (1979)
  • (6 and 7) Ovid’s place within the genre
  • The persona of the lover in the Amores; wit, irony and innovation; elegiac topoi; does Latin Love Elegy end with the Amores?
  • (8) The Beloved in Latin Love Elegy
  • How the Latin love elegists treat the figure of the elegiac domina/ puella

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module builds on previous knowledge of ancient literature to show how the Latin elegiac poets (primarily Propertius, Ovid and Tibullus) place themselves within a literary tradition and develop the genre of first-person subjective love poetry. By the end of the module, students should have acquired a close familiarity with the major first-person elegies in the genre, and be capable of using them to consider how the Latin love elegists develop earlier poetry and relate to contemporary political and social concerns.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will need to develop the literary and historical skills relevant to the handling of Latin love elegy in general. In particular, they will be asked to develop an understanding of the distinctive features that can be found in this genre.
Key Skills:
  • The analytical and interpretative skills required for the successful completion of this module are transferable to any field which demands close attention to written detail, and the analyses of others. 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

  • Teaching will be by fortnightly seminar, structured around a student presentation on the topic for the week. This will ensure that individuals engage in independent research and thought 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.
  • 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 the literary themes and techniques of our authors, 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 1 hour 16
Preparation and Reading 284
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two essays (one to be submitted in Michaelmas and one 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