Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module CLAS44630: Greeks and the East: 800-100 BCE

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS44630: Greeks and the East: 800-100 BCE

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • In accordance with the general aims of the MA programmes in the Department, to promote self-motivated and self-directed graduate research.
  • To explore the varied and complex interactions between the ancient Greek world and neighbouring cultures of the Near East, in particular those of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • To explore and evaluate a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives from which cross-cultural connections between the Greek world and Near East are studied and modelled.
  • To study and analyse (in translation) a wide variety of sources relevant to the study of cultural contact between the Greek world and the cultures and societies of the Ancient Near East.
  • To enable students to develop the specific skills required to pursue higher-level interdisciplinary research in the area of Greek-Near Eastern cross-cultural connections and comparisons.


  • This module aims to equip students with core knowledge and methodological and theoretical approaches needed for the interdisciplinary study of interactions between Greek and Near Eastern cultures in antiquity, with a particular focus on Egypt and Mesopotamia. Through a series of case studies selected in consultation with the module convenor, students will explore and analyse a range of contexts and modes of cross-cultural interaction (e.g. settlement; imperial rule; literary borrowing; material or intellectual exchange), as well as the ways in which members of each culture conceptualised the other(s). Students will also be introduced to and encouraged to test the principal modern theoretical and methodological approaches which have dominated work in the field and recent reactions against these.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed knowledge of a range of case studies relevant to understanding the relationship between the Greek world and the cultures of the Near East in antiquity.
  • Familiarity with a range of relevant literary, epigraphic, numismatic, archaeological and visual sources, and associated modern scholarship.
  • An understanding of scholarly debates surrounding the nature of interactions between the Greek world and Ancient Near East in antiquity, and the major methodological and theoretical positions taken by scholars working in this field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to evaluate in an analytically sophisticated way a range of source materials which shed light on the nature of the connections (or lack thereof) between the Greek world and the Ancient Near East
  • Ability to make appropriate use of relevant subject-specific reference and bibliographic tools
  • Ability to produce interdisciplinary research at the interface of Classics and Near Eastern studies which is methodologically sound and well grounded in the evidence and scholarship from all relevant disciplines.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to analyse a wide range of source material in an intellectually sophisticated and methodologically sound way.
  • Ability to assess critically a range of different methodologies and theoretical approaches.
  • Ability to produce independent research and communicate it in a clear and well-structured fashion in both oral and written form.
  • Capacity to produce independent, persuasive and clearly formulated arguments in both oral and written form.

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

  • Teaching will be by fortnightly seminars organised around specific case studies chosen in consultation with students.
  • The seminars are fortnightly and sessions last for 2 hours to allow and encourage in-depth preparation and discussion.
  • Formative assessment: (i) a formative presentation during Michaelmas term; (ii) a short essay (2000 words), submitted at the start of Epiphany term.
  • Summative assessment: a 5000-word essay on a topic of each student’s own choosing.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 4 in Michaelmas term; 4 in Epiphany term 2 hours 16
Tutorials 2 1 in Michaelmas term; 1 in Epiphany term 1 hour 2
Preparation and Reading 282
Total 300

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

1 formative seminar presentation 1 formative essay (2,000 words)

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