CLA2001 - Greek History: Problems and Sources

2015/6 Module description

Staff - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module introduces the exciting history of the Greek world from the Archaic period to the rise of Rome. It explores who the ‘Greeks’ were, where they came to settle and what aspects these remarkably diverse settlements had in common. To do so the module introduces you to general themes such as religion and intellectual life. We also examine at warfare, political, social and economic history. These include the major conflicts between Greeks and other Greeks (e.g. the Peloponnesian War), as well as Greeks with non-Greeks, (e.g. the Persian Wars). You likewise look at Alexander and how the successors to Alexander shaped the Mediterranean and Western Asia politically until the conquests of Rome, and culturally long after the last Hellenistic kingdom fell.

Module aims

The module provides an introduction to Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Greek history. Through a close study of ancient evidence and modern scholarship students will come to understand the limitations of textual evidence, as well as the general themes and problems of the periods and regions covered.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Possess a detailed knowledge of the history of the Greek world from the Archaic period to the end of the Hellenistic kingdoms and an ability to compare this to Roman history.
  • 2. Critically analyse some of the major sources and problems pertaining to the study of these periods

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Acquire knowledge of historiographical method and apply this to solve simple historical problems
  • 4. Critically analyse, evaluate, synthesise land compare literary and material evidence

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Communicate ideas orally in seminars and in writing thesis-driven essays and exams, thereby demonstrating a capacity to review, assemble, and evaluate ancient and modern evidence.
  • 6. To construct and defend arguments (both in written form and orally)
  • 7. Manage their time and work to deadlines

Syllabus plan

Indicative topics and themes:

Term 1 explores the general background of the varied cultures and geographies of the ‘Greek’ world and how these fit in their broader Western Asian and Mediterranean contexts. You will explore aspects of Greek political history and traditions surrounding lawgivers, the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, as well as the hegemonic struggles of the 5th and early 4th centuries BC. You also will be introduced to the incredible variety of Greek settlements from problems surrounding Greek ‘colonisation’ to the dominance of a handful of poleis in the Balkans and Sicily during the Classical Period, especially Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Syracuse. Special emphasis is also placed on interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks, especially with Persia, Egypt, and Phoenician settlements. We likewise will discuss themes in Greek culture such as religion, theatre and festivals, as well as women, slaves and other muted groups.

Term 2: builds on this foundation and broadly explores the rise and consolidation of Macedonian Hegemony and the ‘Hellenistic’ period that followed the conquests of Philip and Alexander the Great. We will refer back to the general themes and topics examined in term one so as to evaluate aspects of change and continuity, e.g. especially with women and religion. In particular we will examine what became of the Greeks in the Balkans, Sicily and S. Italy, as well as the continued expansion of Greek settlements into Asia. Particular emphasis is placed on the conquests of Alexander, the Wars of the Successors (323-276 BC), as well as the nature of the resulting Hellenistic kingdoms, especially the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, the Antigonids, the Attalids, and Pyrrhus of Epirus, as well as how each ultimately came to confront the rise of Rome.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activity44Lectures (22 x 2 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching activity8Seminars (8 x 1 hour)
Guided independent study248Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
1x gobbet/analysis of an ancient text/object800 words1-4, 6-7Written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay402000 words1-6Mark and written comments
Exam602 hours1-6Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6August ref/def period
ExamExam1-6August ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

1. Indicative Ancient Texts:


Herodotus Histories

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

Xenophon Hellenica

Polybius, Histories

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History

Plutarch, Lives

Appian, The Foreign Wars


2. Examples of General Introductions:


J.K. Davies, Democracy and Classical Greece 2nd edition (London, 1993)

A. Erskine (ed), A Companion to the Hellenistic World (Oxford 2003)

S. Hornblower, The Greek World 479-323 BC 3rd edition (London, 2002)

P. Levi, Atlas of the Greek World (Oxford, 1980)

R. Osborne, Greece in the Making 1200-479 BC 2nd Edition (London, 2009)G. Shipley, The Greek World after Alexander 323-30 BC (London, 2000) - to be bought.

F.W. Walbank, The Hellenistic World 2nd edition (London, 1992)

A. Erskine (ed) A Companion to the Hellenistic World (Blackwell, Oxford, 2003).

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Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

Classics, Greek History, Sources

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