BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Introduction to the History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt

Unit code CAHE21442
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics & Ancient History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The Pharaonic civilisation flourished in the Nile Valley for well over three-thousand years leaving behind significant archaeological, textual and iconographic evidence. This course will provide students with a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of Pharaonic Egypt from the Neolithic and the formation of the Egyptian state at the end of the Predynastic through to the arrival of Alexander the Great and the incorporation of Egypt into the Hellenistic World. Alongside the historical overview, students will also study aspects of Pharaonic culture such as royal iconography, mortuary and sacred landscapes as well as modern reception of the Egyptian civilisation in a series of seminars built around specific textual sources or scholarly articles providing a starting point for discussion and debate. The unit will be taught and assessed in English.


·         to introduce students to the historical development of the Pharaonic civilisation.

·         to encourage the development of a critical approach to textual source material.

·         to encourage the development of a critical approach to archaeological data.

·         to develop the ability to formulate and debate different scholarly viewpoints.

·         to discuss the development of the field of Egyptology and pre-modern exploration of Ancient Egyptian culture. 





Week 1

The Geography of Egypt

Royal Iconography

Neolithic and Predynastic

Week 2

State Formation and Early Dynastic Egypt

Feeding the Pyramid Builders

The Age of the Pyramids

Week 3

The First Intermediate Period

The Democratisation of the Afterlife

The Middle Kingdom I

Week 4

The Middle Kingdom II

The Medjay

The Coming of the Hyksos

Week 5

The Early 18th Dynasty

Trip to the Museum Stores: Senenmut in Manchester

The Female Pharaoh

Week 6

Thutmosis III to Amenhotep III

Nefertiti's Face

The Amarna Heresy

Week 7

The Post-Amarna Pharaohs

The Militarisation of the Elite

The Rise of the Ramessides

Week 8

Ramesses the Great: The Quintessential Pharaoh?

The Great Tomb Robberies

The Later Ramesside Period

Week 9

The Third Intermediate Period

Essay Feedback Session

The Late Period

Week 10

The Achaemenid Period and the Arrival of Alexander

Trip to the Museum Stores: An Introduction to Ptolemaic Coina

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lectures and seminars, Blackboard and two handling sessions in the Manchester Museum.

Knowledge and understanding

·         to understand the range and quality of textual, archaeological and iconographic sources used in the study of ancient Egypt.

·         to demonstrate knowledge of the ways in which other cultures in the eastern Mediterranean influenced and interacted with the Pharaonic state.

·         to understand how the development of a centralised state in Ancient Egypt compares and contrasts to state formation in other ancient societies.

Intellectual skills

·         to be able to construct an academic argument in written and oral form.

·         to conduct independent research.

·         to demonstrate an awareness of the usefulness and limitations of various types of historical source material.

Practical skills

·         to handle ancient artefacts in a controlled museum setting.

·         to engage critically and respectfully in written and oral debate.

·         to effectively and independently manage time.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

·         to discuss problems and questions in a group setting.

·         to conduct independent research.

·         to construct and present a clear, reasoned argument in written form.

Employability skills

This course involves several useful employability skills, primary of which is the ability to conduct independent research, to distil information from a variety of sources, to critically evaluate these sources and use them to underpin a clear and coherent argument in written form. Students will also gain experience of group cooperation and how to express and defend an oral argument in a respectful and appropriate manner.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)



2500 words




2 hours







Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback


Oral feedback in a dedicated seminar session and upon request during office hours





Recommended reading

 ·         Davies, W. V. (ed.) 1991. Egypt and Africa: Nubia from Prehistory to Islam. British Museum Press: London.

               ·         Dodson, A. and D. Hilton. 2004. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson:                           London

·         Grajetzki, W. 2006. The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society. Duckworth: London.

·         Hornung, E. 1999. History of Ancient Egypt: An Introduction. Cornell University Press: Ithaca.

·         Kemp, B. J. 1989. Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilisation. Routledge: London

·         Shaw, I (ed). 2003. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

              ·        Trigger, B. G. 1983. Ancient Egypt: A Social History. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicky Nielsen Unit coordinator
Joyce Tyldesley Unit coordinator

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