MA Egyptology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Amarna Period

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE66611
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? No


Overview: This 15-credit module is an optional part of the part-time online master’s in Egyptology and will be taught during the first semester of the second year. The first part of the module is concerned with the precursors to the Amarna Age, the earlier 18th Dynasty and the reign of Amenhotep III. The module also discusses the religious, artistic and political reforms enacted by Akhenaten, including his decision to move the royal capital from Thebes to the newly founded city of Akhetaten (modern-day Tell el-Amarna). The settlement is examined in detail including its architectural lay-out, evidence of daily life, production and subsistence as well as the recently excavated North and South Cemeteries which provide an excellent source of information about the life of common inhabitants of the settlement. The module also provides a comprehensive overview of the chaotic post-Amarna interlude and the reigns of Smenkhare, Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb.




Historical Studies of Ancient Egypt; Urbanism in Ancient Egypt; Art and Artists in Ancient Egypt.


The unit aims to:

1. provide the students with detailed knowledge of the cultural and social changes to Egyptian society which occurred during the Amarna Period.

2. assess the impact of the Amarna reforms on ancient Egyptian society.

3. analyse the changes to 2- and 3-dimensional royal and private artistic expression during the Amarna Period.

4. provide an in-depth overview of the settlement of Tell el-Amarna, its architecture, foundation and later exploration.

5. provide the students with a detailed overview of the various scholarly theories concerning the royal succession after the death of Akhenaten.

6. assess the modern reception and impact of the Amarna Age and the historical figures of Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti.


Teaching and learning methods






Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate a knowledge of the political, social and cultural reforms to ancient Egyptian society which occurred during the Amarna Period. 

Show understanding of the limitations in the available evidence for this period due to later attempts by the ancient Egyptians to supress and destroy material related to the period.

Intellectual skills

Analyse, interpret and cogently present written research formed on the basis of fragmentary and confused datasets. 

Display an awareness of the modern-day interpretations and receptions of the Amarna Period and the ways in which they have coloured and biased scholarly interpretations.

Practical skills

Conduct independent research and present the results in an appropriate written format.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Interpret and assimilate jumbled and fragmentary datasets. 

Distinguish between scholarly secondary source material and more uncertain popular material.

Assessment methods

Discussion Boards 10%
Essay 3500 words 90%

Feedback methods

Discussion board - ongoing feedback

Essay - written feedback within 15 working days

Recommended reading

Dodson, A. 2009. Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian Counter-Reformation. AUC Press: Cairo. 

Dodson, A. 2014. Amarna Sunrise: Egypt from the Golden Age to the Age of Heresy. AUC Press: Cairo.

Freed, R. E., Y. J. Markowitz and S. H D’Auria (eds.) 1999. Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankamun. Thames and Hudson: London.

Kemp, B. J. 2013. The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and its People. Thames and Hudson: London.

Kemp, B. J. Busy Lives at Amarna: Excavations in the main City. EES: London.

Murnane, W. J. 1995. Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt. Scholars Press: Atlanta.

Shortland, A. J. 2000. Vitreous Materials at Amarna: The Production of Glass and Faience in 18th Dynasty Egypt. BAR: Oxford.

Stevens, A. 2006. Private Religion at Amarna: The Material Evidence. Archaeopress: Oxford.

Tyldesley, J. A. 1998. Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen. Viking: London.

Tyldesley, J. A. 2017. Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon. Profile: London.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joyce Tyldesley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

11 lectures; 11 seminar discussions. Written seminar discussions on Discussion Boards.

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