Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module CLAS44730: Independent Research Topic

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS44730: Independent Research Topic

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • Advanced subject knowledge/skills in the proposed topic area (usually at Level 3).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with an opportunity to undertake in-depth research into a topic which matches Departmental expertise but is not otherwise available in the Department’s taught provision in any given year.
  • To provide students with advanced, in-depth knowledge of the key literature, theories, concepts, arguments and debates that comprise the relevant topic.
  • To provide students with the knowledge and skills required to pursue self-directed research on a specific topic, under the direction of a member of staff with relevant expertise.
  • To equip students with extended research training in the form of one-to-one supervisions suitable to enhance their research preparation for PhD study.


  • Content will reflect the teaching and research expertise of members of staff as demonstrated in our current module provision, staff research interests and Departmental research activities. Students should propose a topic and potential supervisor, and demonstrate that at the point of entry to the programme they have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete the project successfully.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced, in-depth knowledge of research in the student’s chosen topic, including comprehensive understanding of previous scholarship and a sense of the current state of the field.
  • Deep familiarity with all relevant source material for the chosen topic, including, as relevant, epigraphic, archaeological, numismatic, visual and literary sources.
  • Knowledge of research methodologies appropriate to the material and topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to plan and pursue effectively independent research in the student’s chosen topic area of Classics or Ancient History.
  • The ability to engage in a theoretically sophisticated way with ‘unmediated’ primary evidence, including, where relevant, ancient texts in the original languages.
  • The ability to locate, access and evaluate relevant secondary literature, including, where relevant, secondary literature written in other modern languages and theoretical or methodological work.
  • The ability to use libraries, online databases and other subject-specific resources necessary for graduate-level research in the student’s chosen field.
Key Skills:
  • Critical assessment of different approaches, source types and methodologies.
  • Self-discipline, responsibility and autonomy in pursuing a research project.
  • The ability to produce independent research and to communicate its results with sophistication in both written and oral format.
  • Effective use of IT resources, including word processing software and bibliographic databases.

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

  • The module will involve 5 one-to-one supervision sessions. After initially agreeing a research topic, subsequent supervisions will further develop a student’s understanding and offer detailed feedback and guidance both in verbal form and in writing.
  • A formative essay of 2000 words will be submitted as preparation for the summative.
  • Summative assessment will usually be by a 5000-word extended essay or commentary; alternative assessment may be accepted if appropriate for the topic.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
One to one supervisions 5 As arranged with supervisor 1 hr 5
Preparation and reading 295
Total 300

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

One 2,000 word essay or commentary (or other formative task agreed with the supervisor) which builds towards the summative assessment.

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