Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module CLAS3551: Greeks & Persians (c 560 - 336 BC)

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS3551: Greeks & Persians (c 560 - 336 BC)

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • CLAS1601 or one Level 1 History module.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To build on students' previous work in Greek history by making a detailed study of an interesting and important topic on the basis of the ancient evidence.


  • The module studies the history of the Persian Kingdom from the rise of Cyrus II (c. 560) to the beginning of the Macedonian / Greek invasion which led to the overthrow of the Persians (336), and of the contacts between the Persians and the Greeks, who particularly after the early fifth century provide most of our evidence for the Persians. This involves not only political and military history but also the cultural interaction of the Persians and the Greeks, as well as exploration of the ways in which Greek sources represent (and mis-represent) the history, culture and ideology of the Persian Empire.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the course students should have a good knowledge and understanding of a major topic in ancient Greek and near-eastern history based on the ancient evidence and modern interpretations of it.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed the skills relevant to the evaluation and deployment of textual and other forms of evidence, and of the interpretations of the evidence by modern scholars; and by studying peoples remote but not unbridgeably remote from our own world they will have enhanced their understanding of how people think and act in different circumstances, and with what results. By writing essays and commentaries and participating in seminars they will have enhanced their skills in the written and oral presentation of evidence, facts, hypotheses and arguments.
Key Skills:
  • The skills required for the successful completion of the course are transferable to any field which demands critical understanding of evidence, the construction of arguments to interpret and deploy it, and an understanding of the reasons for and the results of people's actions. The course also requires the effective use of library resources, and skill in the presentation of material.

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

  • Lectures will provide an evaluation of the literary, historical and visual evidence, and seminars will allow students to develop skills in interpretation of the evidence.
  • The formative assessment will allow students to develop their skills in analysing the ancient evidence relevant to this module, and more generally to monitor their progress.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

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

Summative Assessment

Component: Commentaries Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentaries 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
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