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Level 6

6AACAR16 The Classical Art of the Body: Greek Sculpture and its Legacy

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor 2018/19: Dr Michael Squire
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour seminar (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x essay of 3,000 words (25%); 1 x 3-hour exam (75%)

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

Assessment pattern for single semester Study Abroad students
  • 6AACA16A The Classical Art of the Body: Greek Sculpture

A Semester 1 only version of the module may be available in certain years to Study Abroad students. Students should check the Study Abroad module catalogue for the relevant year for availability.

Assessment: 1 x museum object critical description of 2,000 words (40%) and 1 x essay of 3,000 words (60%)

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

Assessment pattern for Graduate Diploma students

Assessment: 3 x 3,000-word essay (100%, essays worth 1/3 each)

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.

The Classical art of the human body is arguably the most important legacy bequeathed to us by Graeco-Roman antiquity. Not only has it directed the course of western image-making, it has also shaped our collective cultural imaginary – as ideal, antitype, and point of departure.

This course provides an introduction to the Greek art of the body in all its many manifestations. It examines a wide range of different materials (including bronze and marble statues in the round, architectural sculpture, figurines, terracottas and reliefs), and across a broad chronological spectrum (focusing above all on the Archaic and Classical materials of the sixth, fifth and fourth centuries). While keeping one eye on historical political, social and cultural contexts, the module also emphasises the importance of reception: if we only strip down our aesthetic investment in the corpus of Graeco-Roman imagery, these materials can shed light on numerous aspects of both ancient and modern thinking.

The first half of the course is structured chronologically. The second then adopts a series of more thematic approaches in an effort to situate Greek sculpture in its various social, cultural, political, economic and indeed theological contexts. Throughout the course a strong emphasis is placed on first-hand analysis of the studied materials through guided visits to relevant museums and galleries in London and elsewhere.

The course is designed to complement different degree programmes offered within the department of Classics. Although focusing on archaeological resources, it also makes use of various literary as well as epigraphic sources in the effort to situate the Classical art of the body in its various historical contexts.


In 2018/19, this module will include a fieldtrip to Greece (currently scheduled for Saturday 8 – Wednesday 12 December 2018): this will be guided by the module leader and others in Athens, and will include access to sites and monuments usually closed to the public. 

The flight on Saturday 8 December departs from Heathrow at 8am, and students will be responsible for getting themselves to the airport by 6:30am at the latest.

All expenses for departmental students will be paid thanks to the generosity of the Department’s Rumble Fund. Students are responsible for getting to Heathrow; lunches (and one dinner in Athens) are not covered by the Fund. 

The module 6AACAR16 The Classical Art of the Body: Greek Sculpture cannot be chosen without participation in the field trip unless this is discussed with the module convenor in advance.

The number of students on the course is capped at 15 with priority given to certain students (as outlined in the Classics module choices documentation).

Due to the complexities of organising the trip (including organising access to sites and monuments closed to the public), undergraduate students will be asked to confirm their place on the trip by submitting a signed declaration of intent (please note the following deadlines do not apply to MA students taking the 7AACM821 version of the module): 

  • The declaration form will be emailed to students who are allocated a place on module 6AACAR16 by the Department, after students are notified of their allocations in May.
  • You must sign and return this form to the Department of Classics – either in hard copy, or as a scan to – no later than 22 May.
  • If you fail to confirm your place on the trip by 22 May, the place will automatically be offered to another student.  You will be reallocated to alternative modules once the timetables become available in August 2018.  This will mean that your choices will be limited.

Students who fail to confirm their participation will be de-selected from the module; any student who wishes to change this module selection from June 2018 would likewise be required to pay a penalty of £100 so that their place can be offered to another student.

NB: Students should be aware that the Department currently intends to offer up to 2 places to Graduate Diploma students registering on 6AACAR16 The Classical Art of the Body in September, and up to 6 places for MA students taking 7AACM821 The Classical Art of the Body. These students will join the undergraduates on the trip.

The 2018/19 Rumble fieldtrip & this module are only open to KCL Department of Classics students. The module is not available to intercollegiate students, Study Abroad students or students from any other KCL Department.

Suggested introductory reading

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

  • M. Beard and J. Henderson (2001) Classical Art: From Greece to Rome
  • L. Burn (1991) The British Museum Book of Greek and Roman Art
  • F. Haskell and N. Penny (eds.) (1981) Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500–1900
  • R. Neer (2010) The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture
  • R. Neer (2011) Greek Art and Archaeology
  • R. Osborne (1998) Archaic and Classical Greek Art
  • R. Osborne (2011) The History Written on the Ancient Greek Body
  • N. Spivey (1996) Understanding Greek Sculpture: Ancient Meanings, Modern Readings
  • N. Spivey and M. Squire (2008) Panorama of the Classical World, second edition
  • M. Squire (2011) The Art of the Body: Antiquity and its Legacy
  • A. Stewart (1997) Art, Desire and the Body in Ancient Greece
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