BA History and Russian

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Constructing Archaic Greek History

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE10011
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course-unit introduces students, especially those beginning the study of ancient history, to the politics, society and economy of the Greek world and its relations with neighbouring peoples in the archaic period (800-478 BC). As well as giving a self-contained introduction to the subject, the course also provides a basis for further study in more advanced courses in Greek history at Levels 2 and 3. The principal themes of the course are: the emergence and character of the leading Greek city-states and their geographical spread throughout the Mediterranean world; the rise of powerful non-Greek neighbours, especially Persia, during the sixth century; and the interaction between them, culminating in the Persian Wars. Particular attention will be paid to the nature of our evidence for the period: we will study the first work of western historiography, the Histories of Herodotus; we will also investigate the potential and problems of using other sorts of archaeological, documentary, and literary evidence to write the history of this period.


  • This course aims to introduce students to the study of Ancient History in general, and Greek history in particular.
  • It explores the most important developments in Greek political, cultural and social history from end of the Dark Ages to the Persian Wars.
  • It will introduce students to the most important sources for the study of archaic Greek history and the skills in analysing those sources that are core to the study of Greek history.
  • The course focuses on the Greeks and the lands they inhabited.
  • Attention will be paid also to the relationship and interactions between Greek communities and their neighbours in the Mediterranean and Near East.

Teaching and learning methods

•    2 x 1 hour lectures per week;
•    1 x 1 hour seminar per week;
•    1 dedicated consultation hour per week;
Blackboard: course material, handouts, online formative tests, and other supporting materials.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the principal events and important themes in the political, cultural and social history of Archaic Greece;
  • show familiarity with a range of types of ancient evidence, and an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of these different types of material.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

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

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • research, with guidance, an ancient historical topic.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • develop their ability to manage time;
  • work co-operatively in small groups;
  • 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

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on formative and 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

•    Herodotus, The Histories (Penguin Classics or Oxford World Classics editions)
•    M. Dillon, L. Garland (Eds.), Ancient Greece, 3rd edition (London 2010)
•    O. Murray, Early Greece (London 1993)
•    S. Pomeroy et al, Ancient Greece. A political, cultural and social history, 3rd edition (Oxford 2012)
•    R. Osborne, Greece in the Making, 2nd edition, (London 2010)
•    J. Hall, A History of the Archaic Greek World, 2nd edition (Malden 2014)

    Study hours

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

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