BA Art History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Living and Dying in the Ancient World

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC10602
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Drawing on literary, art historical and archaeological evidence, this course introduces you to key developments, concepts and ideas common to many ancient societies in and around the Mediterranean between the Neolithic and Roman periods. Intentionally designed to be interdisciplinary, you will explore how ancient people lived and died from a variety of angles and thus gain insights into theoretical approaches and philosophical underpinnings of core disciplines in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. Topics explored revolve around central issues experienced by mankind, and include the appearance of cities and resulting consequences of urbanisation, the emergence of writing and the social impact of literacy, the nature and importance of public entertainment, how societies cope with death and the legacy of the past. You will explore several central themes in lectures, seminars, and your written submissions, and engage directly with the ancient evidence at the heart of each issue. By doing so, you will gain a broad foundation in the ideas and concepts you will use throughout your degree programme.


  1. To introduce students to a range of issues at the very core of ancient (and indeed modern) societies through a series of case studies.
  2. To introduce students to a wide variety of pertinent literary, art historical and archaeological evidence from ‘Old World’ societies.
  3. To help students develop an awareness of the diversity of theoretical approaches, concepts and evidence available for the analysis and interpretation of social issues.
  4. To encourage students to develop critical skills by analysing a variety of key evidence types.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Acquired basic knowledge of core issues for different cultural and (pre)historical contexts from the ‘Old World’.
  • Developed an awareness of different types of evidence, as well as an appreciation of the problems involved in marshalling these different kinds of evidence.
  • Demonstrated some knowledge of the critical methods which link many of the disciplines within the School.

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrated an ability to evaluate and reflect upon different theoretical approaches and evidence types.
  • Acquired experience in summarizing ones intellectual position.
  • Acquired experience in marshalling the evidence to support one’s own argument.

Practical skills

  • Acquired experience in presenting and reflecting upon evidence orally in a group context.
  • Demonstrated an ability to utilize Blackboard.
  • Demonstrate an ability to research a topic using library and internet resources.
  • Developed an awareness of appropriate academic conventions for presentation of written arguments.
  • Acquired experience in planning, conducting and presenting an essay of 2,000 words.

Transferable skills and personal qualities


  • Acquired experience in contributing to group discussions.
  • Demonstrated an ability to communicate in written work.
  • Developed experience in a critical use of the Internet to retrieve information.
  • Gained experience in utilizing computer word processing software.
  • Gained practice in managing time and working to deadlines. 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Cognitive Skills: the critical evaluation of scholarly materials; summarising a body of literature; structuring and sustaining arguments vocally and in written form.
Generic Competencies: communicating in the seminar context; identifying the key aspects of arguments; use of library and online resources; essay writing and note taking. Practical and Professional Skills: this course unit provides an outline understanding of the ancient world by drawing on the contribution of many different disciplines. You gain a foundational knowledge of several case studies as well as the theoretical and philosophical frameworks utilised by different disciplines. Personal Capabilities: writing and oral presentation skills, group working, independent learning.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Portfolio preparation







Formative and summative



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Detailed formative written feedback is provided throughout the semester for each submitted seminar preparation assignment. These reflections, together with the feedback, form the basis for the subsequent summative Portfolio feedback.

Formative and summative

The seminars are a place for directed discussion and thus provide verbal formative feedback on the development and presentation of argument and interpretation.


The essay feedback form gives formative written feedback and a summative mark. Students are encouraged to submit an essay plan to their seminar leader ahead of the final submission for formative feedback.

Formative and summative

Recommended reading

Edwards, C. 2007. Death in Ancient Rome. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Garland, R. 1985. The Greek Way of Death. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Kyle, D.G. 2007. Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World. Oxford: Blackwell.

Marcus, J. and Sabloff, J.A. (eds), 2008. The Ancient City: New Perspectives on Urbanism in the Old and New World. School of American Research Press.

Powell, B.B. 2009. Writing. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Storey, G. (ed.) 2006. Urbanism in the Preindustrial World: Cross-Cultural

Approaches. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Thomas, R. 1992. Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

Vlassopulos, K. 2010. Politics: Antiquity and its Legacy. I.B. Tauris.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ina Berg Unit coordinator

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