Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an introduction to ancient Greek and Roman historiography; to develop critical skills in handling the information conveyed in ancient texts.


  • The course will offer a broad sketch of the development of Greek and Roman historiography. Authors studied may include Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius, Diodorus of Sicily, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Sallust, Livy, Josephus, Tacitus, Appian, Ammianus Marcellinus.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A good grasp of the specific characteristics of Greek and Roman historiography.
  • A basic knowledge of key ancient historians to be read in translation only.
  • A clear understanding of the main issues in the scholarship on the subject.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to evaluate ancient sources in the light of the genre and of the prejudices, declared or otherwise, of the author.
  • Ability to handle a range of complex and diverse texts in such a way as to engage with their common features and idiosyncrasis.
  • Ability to deploy different modes of literary interpretation to the elucidation of the target texts.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to compare and evaluate evidence from different sources: the student should be able to appreciate the problems associated with evaluating evidence from other cultures.
  • Appreciation of the importance of contextualization and precise expression in the analysis of data.
  • Ability to think critically about other people's interpretation of evidence.
  • Ability to construct a clear and logical argument in support of a given case.

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

  • Most of the teaching will be done in plenary lectures, to ensure a wide basis of shared knowledge. These will be supplemented by four seminars in which the students will be encouraged to explore contrasting views and evidence. Tutorials will provide the opportunity for more specific feedback. Both formative and summative assessments test the students' ability to locate, exploit and discuss sources available to them, their assimilation and understanding of material across the breadth of the course, and their ability to construct clear and logical arguments on the basis of the evidence available.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 1 per week 1 hour 20
Tutorials 6 Spread throughout teaching year 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 174

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100% Essay
Component: Gobbets exercise Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Gobbets exercise 2500 words 100% Gobbets exercise

Formative Assessment:

1 formative gobbets exercise (1000 words); 1 formative essay (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