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BA Latin and French

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Cities and Citizens

Unit code CAHE10231
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics & Ancient History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Cities and Citizens: Studying the Ancient Mediterranean


This course assesses the cities and communities of the ancient Mediterranean and its hinterland; these pre-industrial societies, set in an age before the invention of the nation-state, were organised in ways which seem sometimes quite alien to the modern world. Exploring the multi-dimensional concepts of the city and citizenship, this course introduces you to the sources, settings, cultures and identities that we encounter when studying the history of the ancient world. You will engage with the main scholarly interpretations of key themes important to life in a city (such as ethnic identity, imperialism, religion, citizenship, status, commemoration, and disease). This course will equip you with the analytical tools which you will be able to deploy in the further study of the ancient Mediterranean and its hinterland.



  • To introduce students on BA Ancient History and other degree-courses to the concepts of the city and citizenship in the ancient world
  • To introduce students to key techniques required for the study of ancient history (particularly the use of ancient evidence, literary and non-literary)
  • To introduce students to key aspects of interpretation and debate in the study of the ancient world
  • To introduce students to wide range of themes in the political, cultural and social history of ancient Greece and Rome.
  • To complement the other L1 (and, to a lesser extent, L2) course-units in Ancient History

Learning outcomes

Students who satisfactorily complete this course will have developed their ability:

  • To show familiarity with a range of types of ancient evidence, and an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of these different types of material;


Topics of lectures and seminars will include the following:

  • cities (basic concepts/theories);
  • citizenship (qualifications, rights, obligations);
  • slaves (and other non-citizens);
  • political institutions;
  • economy/commerce;
  • warfare;
  • religion;
  • death/dealing with the dead;
  • built environment. 

We will build in room for specific case-studies of cities which are not always on the forefront of the big L1 AH courses, e.g. Syracuse, Alexandria, Palmyra, Pompeii.


Teaching and learning methods

22 lectures; 11 classes, to include 4 introductory/concluding lectures

2 introductory/revision seminars

Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard)

Dedicated Office Hour

Feedback on written coursework

Knowledge and understanding

  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of important themes in the political, cultural and social history of ancient Greece and Rome
  • To show some awareness of modern debates on ancient historical subjects.

Intellectual skills

  • To construct an argument in written and oral form; to assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence; and to present the results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship.

Practical skills

  • To manage time, to work co-operatively in small groups, and to engage in critical discussion and debate.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • To manage time, to work co-operatively in small groups, and to engage in critical discussion and debate.

Employability skills

The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information, an ability to see both sides of an argument, the ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form, the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.

Assessment methods


Assessment task


Weighting within unit



750 words



Scholarly  Comparison


1000 words






Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on summative assessment (see above); all summative coursework feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assignments. Students are encouraged to seek formative feedback ahead of the first assignment of the unit by discussing work plans and approaches during seminars (where appropriate) and in consultation hours.
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

Parkin, T. and Pomeroy, T.J., Roman Social History. A Sourcebook, London, 2007.

Rhodes, P.J., The Greek City States. A Source Book, 2nd edition, Cambridge, 2007.

Zuiderhoek, A. 'The Ancient City', Cambridge, 2016


Beard, M., Pompeii, 2010.

Cartledge, P.A. Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities, 2009.

Cartledge, P. A., The Greeks, 1993.

Dodge, H. and Connelly, P., The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome, 1998.

Finley, M., The Ancient Economy, updated with a foreword by I. Morris, Berkeley and London, 1999.

Finley, M., Politics in the Ancient World, Cambridge, 1983.

Gates, C., Ancient Cities. The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, 2003, parts 2 and 3.

Hansen, M.H., Polis. An Introduction to the Ancient Greek City State, Oxford, 2006

Stambaugh, J., The Ancient Roman City, 1988.


Other introductory  reading:

Boardman, J., Griffin, J., Murray, O., Oxford History of the Greek and the Hellenistic World, 2001.

Boardman, J., Griffin, J., Murray, O., Oxford History of the Roman World, 2001.

Lane Fox, R. J., The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, 2003.

Osborne, R., Greek History: the Basics, 2014.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peter Liddel Unit coordinator

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