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Level 4

4AACAH01 Introduction to Ancient History (c. 1200 BC-AD 600)

Credit value: 30 credits
Module convenors 2019/20: Dr Irene Polinskaya and Dr Lindsay Allen (sem 1) and Prof. Domoinic Rathbone (sem 2).
Teaching pattern 2019/20: 40 x 2-hour lecture (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 2 x 2,000 word essays (60%, based on the higher of the two marks; failure to submit 2 essays will be penalized by capping essay component of module mark at 40%); 1 x 2-hour examination (40%).

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Single semester versions, available in Semester 1 or 2.
  • 4AACAH1A Introduction to Ancient History (The Eastern Mediterranean & the Near East, c. 1200-200 BC) - Semester 1
  • 4AACAH1B Introduction to Ancient History (Rome & the Mediterranean to c. AD 600) - Semester 2

Single semester versions of the module, split into the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East (semester 1) and Rome and the Mediterranean (semester 2), are available to Graduate Diploma in Classical Studies and other students from outside the Department.

Undergraduate students in the Department of Classics may also be allowed to take a single semester version to make up their required credits. For example, if they wish to take 15 Credits with another Department in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, or the 15 Credit module 4AACHB01 Receptions of the Past: the Hellenic World from Antiquity to Today (in 2018/19, this module runs in Semester 1).


  • 4AACAH1A and 4AACAH1: 2 x  2,000 word essays (100%, based on the higher of the two essay marks; failure to submit 2 essays will be penalized by capping module mark at 40%).
  • Students will answer essay questions taken from the list of questions set for module 4AACAH01, chosen from the appropriate semester (e.g. students enrolled on 4AACAH1A will answer questions from the Semester 1 list for 4AACAH01).
  • Full year Study Abroad students: as for 4AACAH01, above.

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module provides you with an introduction to the history of the ancient world across three continents and 1800 years. It shows how the classical world of Greece & Rome developed alongside, and was influenced by, the civilizations of the Near East and beyond. It shows you the evidence, literary and material, on which the history of the period is based, and introduces you to the most recent interpretations of the past.

In semester 1 you will examine the period from the fall of the empires of the Bronze Age Near East until the time when the city of Rome began to expand its power into the Mediterranean, as well as exploring the eastern Mediterranean, including Egypt, and the Near East.

In semester 2 you will follow the rise of Rome first in Italy and then in the Mediterranean and northwards as far as Britain, also exploring its cultural impact in different parts of the Empire.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

A weekly programme of readings will be provided throughout the module. The following are recommended as background, to give some idea of what will be covered.

  • S. Price & P. Thonemann, The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine (Penguin 2011)
  • M. van de Mieroop, A History of the Ancient Near East, 3000-323 BC. (Routledge, second edition, 2007).
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