Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module CLAS2941: The City of Athens

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS2941: The City of Athens

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


  • • CLAS1601


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To explore the history, culture and society of Classical Athens, and the ways in which these shape and are shaped by the physical form of the city and its territory.
  • To introduce the physical and topographical setting of Athens and Attica and the material culture of the area.
  • To introduce an understanding of Athenian self-conceptions about their space and territory.
  • To help students develop their skills in studying the ancient world, particularly their ability to enagage with different types of ancient evidence.


  • The city of Athens was the political, cultural and economic hub of the ancient Aegean, and its history and legacy have fascinated scholars and tourists alike for centuries. This module looks at the ancient city from different angles, for instance, as a lived-in space, as a political space, as a site of religion and festivals. It also explores the relationship between the city and its countryside (the territory of Attica), and between the city and its neighbours. The module focuses on the Classical period (ca. 508/7–323 BCE), but we will also consider the histories (and stories) of the origins and early growth of Athens; in addition, we will look at the later reception and uses of the city, from its ‘discovery’ by 18th-century travellers to its transformation into the capital of the modern nation state of Greece.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An awareness of the history of the city of Athens and its surrounding territory, of different sorts of buildings and spaces in the city (and of the interactions between them); awareness of the ways in which the city of Athens developed over time; and an understanding of the major ancient and modern debates which are associated with these themes.
  • Understanding of key issues in Classical Athenian political, cultural and social history.
  • Knowledge of a range of types of ancient evidence relevant to this subject (literary, epigraphic and material), and an ability to interpret critically the contributions of these different types of material.
  • An introduction to approaches and debates in both ancient and modern scholarship on Athens in the classical period, and on its broader historical significance.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to analyse and draw conclusions from a range of primary sources from the ancient world, including material and epigraphic sources.
  • The capacity to evaluate the inherent values and problems associated with particular types of ancient sources and to use these sources judiciously to construct a careful and nuanced picture of antiquity.
  • The ability to engage critically with modern scholarship on Classical Athenian history.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to assess and compare a range of different arguments and approaches.
  • An ability to use diverse material and visual types of evidence to supplement textual evidence.
  • A capacity to produce tight, well-evidenced and clearly expressed arguments in scholarly language.

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

  • Lectures will provide an overview of the material and engage closely with relevant primary and secondary sources.
  • Suggested bibliography for each lecture will encourage students to develop their own areas of interest within the course as it progresses.
  • Seminars will guide students in a close reading of both textual and non-textual sources.
  • Summative Assessment will take the form of:
  • A basic webpage
  • A final (take-home) exam

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

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

Summative Assessment

Component: Webpage Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Webpage ca. 2500 words 100% yes
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Take-home 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