CLA3264 - Ancient Science and Society

2022/3 Module description

StaffDr David Leith - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesNone
Co-requisitesNone
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

Was there such a thing as science in antiquity? If so, what did it look like, and who were its practitioners? Why did they do science, and what methods did they employ? For example, did they carry out what we would recognise as experiments? This module will explore a variety of different kinds of scientific research carried out in the Greek and Roman worlds. It seeks to understand why and how particular projects were formulated and developed, how exactly they were pursued, the diversity of ways in which the results were disseminated, and how all of this was influenced by specific historical and cultural conditions. It also looks at what distinctive features there might be in Greek and Roman science, and how ancient scientists grappled with the problems of convincing their audience and constructing authority.

All texts will be studied in translation, and there are no formal prerequisites for this module.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To expand knowledge of different forms of ancient scientific research
  • To develop understanding of its specific cultural roots
  • To interrogate assumptions about what counts as scientific progress
  • To engage critically with a range of forms of scientific writing in antiquity

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of different scientific disciplines in antiquity
  • 2. Demonstrate awareness of how scientific research is influenced by cultural contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate critical and analytical skills which can be applied to the analysis of texts of any culture
  • 4. Demonstrate advanced appreciation of the issues involved in using texts as historical material, and relate texts to their socio-historical context

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Demonstrate the ability to think critically and independently on a range of crucial issues and to construct an interesting and consistent argument
  • 6. Demonstrate the ability to speak clearly, engage in public debate and respond critically to observations and objections

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction - what is ancient ‘science’?
  • Hippocratic Corpus
  • Plato’s Academy and the Timaeus
  • Aristotle’s invention of biology
  • Epicurus’ Letters
  • Hellenistic mathematical letters
  • Aëtius’ Placita
  • Lucretius’ On Nature
  • Seneca’s Natural Questions
  • Pliny’s Natural History
  • Conclusions

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

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
221280

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars (1 x 2 hours a week)
Guided Independent Study128Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Close study of key primary texts and scholarship, with broader discussions of issuesWeekly1-6Oral feedback from lecturer and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
70030

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation3015 minutes1-6Oral feedback and written comments
Essay703000 words1-5Written comments Individual feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Oral presentationTranscript of presentation (1500 words) with accompanying handout and/or visual aid1-6Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-5Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • M. Asper (ed.), Writing Science. Medical and Mathematical Authorship in Ancient Greece (Berlin 2013).
  • T.D. Barnes (ed.), The Sciences in Greco-Roman Society (Edmonton 1994).
  • T. Barton, Knowledge and Power. Astrology, Physiognomics and Medicine under the Roman Empire (Ann Arbor 1994).
  • S. Cuomo, Technology and Culture in Greek and Roman Antiquity (Cambridge 2007).
  • G.E.R. Lloyd, Greek Science after Aristotle (London 1973).
  • —, Magic, Reason and Experience (Cambridge 1979).
  • —, Science, Folklore and Ideology (Cambridge 1983).
  • —, Methods and Problems in Greek Science (Cambridge 1991).
  • E. Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (London 1985).
  • L. Taub, Aetna and the Moon. Explaining Nature in Ancient Greece and Rome (Corvallis 2008).

Module has an active ELE page?

Yes

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

04/03/2016

Last revision date

04/08/2020

Key words search

Ancient Science

Important please note

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the module descriptors for the Online Module Selection process, please be aware that on rare occasions it may be necessary to remove proposed modules for reasons beyond our control. In addition, there are still some new modules going through the accreditation process. These will be offered in due course by the relevant discipline.

All modules displayed below have been approved by the approval process but may require further minor amendments before the commencement of teaching.

We are committed to providing an outstanding education and high quality teaching. You can find out details of your modules and any potential changes on these pages. If you are a returning student, joining after the first year or a postgraduate student details of your module changes will be provided in August. 

Foreign Language Centre modules

Term 1 module codes listed above ending with C, i.e. FLF1115C, are only available to outbound students who are away in Term 2. Students studying all year must select the standard module across both Term 1 and 2.