Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module CLAS2831: Living in the Classical World

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS2831: Living in the Classical World

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • CLAS1301 or CLAS1601 or one Level 1 History module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To study everyday life in Greece and Rome, and especially the variety and development of the social structures of the two civilisations.
  • To develop a sound understanding of Greek and Roman social history.
  • To explore and analyse in detail a variety of material, literary and visual sources, and the methodological challenges inherent in using them.
  • To examine the relationship between different social structures within a society, and the ways in which individuals encounter and experience them.


  • The module consists of the study of topics pertaining to everyday life in Greece and Rome, with an emphasis on social structures and the individual's interaction with them during their life. Topics studied may include birth and education, food and drink, military service, leisure activities, religious belief, crime and punishment, and old age and death.
  • These topics will be approached via a variety of different types of source material and evidence, including literary, epigraphic, papyrological, archaeological and visual evidence.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of key topics in Greek and Roman social history, including the basic social organisation of Greek and Roman society and the roles men and women assumed in public life.
  • A knowledge of a range of relevant textual and material sources, and the methodological considerations and difficulties involved in evaluating them.
  • A critical knowledge of current approaches and debates in the historiography of social life in the ancient world.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to analyse and draw conclusions from a broad range of primary sources which shed light on Greek and Roman society.
  • The capacity to evaluate the reliability and utility of ancient sources, to understand the various problems that arise from different types of source, and to deploy sources within an argument in a methodologically sound way.
  • A grasp of the problems inherent in handling translated texts.
  • The ability to make proper use of core reference tools and bibliography.
  • The ability to engage critically with modern scholarship on Greek and Roman social history, and to use and adapt relevant approaches and methodologies when formulating an argument.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to assess a range of different arguments and interpretive approaches, and apply appropriate methodologies.
  • The ability to combine close and detailed source criticism with a broader analytical framework.
  • The capacity to produce a clear, coherent and well-reasoned argument, both orally and in written form.

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

  • Lectures will introduce the key topics through carefully evaluated literary and material evidence. Seminars will allow students to hone their skills in close analysis of ancient evidence and interpretation of modern literature.
  • Through reading (for lectures and seminars), presentation (in seminars), and formative work, students will develop their own ideas and learn to present and evaluate their own and others' arguments in a critical manner.
  • Students will be assessed through summative essay (30%) and examination (70%). Both these forms of assessment will enable students to demonstrate skills in close source-criticism, the capacity to construct a coherent and well-reasoned written argument, and knowledge of key topics and themes in the social history of ancient Greece and Rome.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Tutorials 6 3 in Michaelmas, 3 in Epiphany 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100% Yes
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

One formative exercise

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