Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module ENGL1031: Ancient Worlds and English Literature

Department: English Studies

ENGL1031: Ancient Worlds and English Literature

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 235 Location Durham


  • • A level English Literature or Literature/Language at nothing less than Grade B.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide a common foundation for students (including those with little or no previous knowledge of the Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions) by introducing them to some of the seminal texts (and formative ideas) of Western Culture.
  • By virtue of such a foundation, to facilitate and enhance students' appreciation of English Literature throughout their undergraduate careers.


  • Syllabus may vary from year to year, but is likely to be drawn from the following texts and topics: Classical Literature: Epic (Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil'sAeneid),Tragedy (Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Seneca's Thyestes), Comedy (Plautus' Menaechmi), Pastoral (Theocritus' Idylls, Vergil's Eclogues), Satire (Juvenal), Love Poetry (Catullus, Propertius, Horace, Ovid), Philosophy (Plato and Platonism), Literary Criticism (Aristotle's Poetics, Horace's Ars Poetica), Mythology (Ovid's Metamorphoses), Ancient Novel (Petronius’ Satyrica, Apuleius' The Golden Ass), Classical influences on English Literature.
  • The Bible (Authorized Version): examples of myth, history, wisdom literature, prophecy, gospels, epistles, and apocalyptic writing (Genesis, Exodus, 1&2 Samuel, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, St Paul's Epistles, Revelation).
  • Problems of interpretation, Biblical authorship, Biblical translation, the Bible as literature, Biblical influences on English Literature.
  • The fusion of the Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On the Classical side: to gain knowledge of, and engage critically with, outstanding examples (in English translation) of the main literary genres, having regard, where appropriate, to their subsequent influence.
  • On the Biblical side: to become acquainted with the main discursive modes (myth, history, wisdom literature, prophecy, gospels, epistles, and apocalyptic writing) of the Bible, and to be able to explore some of the problems of its construction and interpretation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • critical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts
  • an ability to demonstrate knowledge of a range of texts, authors, and critical approaches within this literary period
  • an informed awareness of formal and aesthetic dimensions of literature and an ability to offer cogent analysis of their workings in specific texts relating to this literary period
  • a sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects on communication of historical circumstances, and to the affective power of language
  • an ability to articulate and substantiate an imaginative response to literature
  • an ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to this literary period
  • skills of effective communication and argument
  • a command of a broad range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology
  • an awareness of literature as a medium through which values are affirmed and debated
Key Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • a capacity to analyse critically
  • an ability to acquire complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of distinctive interpretative skills derived from the subject
  • a competence in the planning and execution of essays
  • a capacity for independent thought and judgement, and ability to assess the critical ideas of others
  • skills in critical reasoning
  • an ability to handle information and argument in a critical manner
  • information-technology skills such as word-processing and electronic data access information
  • organisation and time-management skills

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

  • Lectures: enable students to gain subject-specific knowledge of cultural, aesthetic and intellectual issues in relation to individual works and authors, an area or period, or a theoretical or language-related topic; encourage students to be aware of the range and variety of approaches to literary study; present ideas and information to encourage, on the part of students, further thought and discussion
  • Tutorials: enable students to explore, in a selective way, through small-group discussion, specific texts and topics (many of which will be addressed by lectures); to focus on selected literary issues and problems; and guide them in developing subject-specific analytical skills and knowledge
  • Formative essays: are written on a text or texts, or a literary topic, and they require the student to demonstrate appropriate subject-specific knowledge and skills, such as the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to literary study. A considerable element of choice of essay topics encourages development in students of their capacity for independent thought and judgement.
  • Essay feedbacks: encourage students to reflect critically and independently on their work
  • Independent but directed reading in preparation for lectures and tutorials provides opportunity for students to enrich subject-specific knowledge and enhances their ability to develop appropriate subject-specific skills.
  • Examination: tests the student's ability to present subject-specific knowledge, to select appropriate materials, and to construct and manage clear and effective arguments in a timed period; to demonstrate independent thinking, and test that students have achieved stated learning outcomes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 Hour 21
Tutorials 7 1 Hour 7
Essay Feedback sessions 2 15 minutes 0.5
Preparation and Reading 171.5
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One three-hour written examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

2 tutorial essays (c.2000 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