Encountering the Classical World

Module code: AR7053

  • How did ancient social systems work?
  • How can we investigate identities and individuals in the classical world?
  • How have modern assumptions and expectations shaped our interpretations of the classical past?

Understanding ancient societies requires not just a firm grasp of the evidence available, but also a sophisticated approach to thinking about different societies more generally. In this module we will explore some of the key theories and approaches for thinking about past societies, as well as taking a critical approach to the history of classics as a discipline, and surveying new and developing arenas for classical research. You will then apply this knowledge to classical research questions of your own choosing, developed in individual consultation with the module coordinator.

Topics covered

  • Conceptualising classical antiquity
  • Conceptualising the Mediterranean
  • Social theory, anthropology and the classical disciplines
  • Status, rank and socio-political organisation
  • Groups, ethnicity and cultural identity
  • Demography, gender and sexuality
  • Trade, exchange and economies
  • The politics of the classical past


  • 10 one-hour lectures
  • 10 two-hour seminars
  • 4 one-hour workshops


  • Essay (40%)
  • Presentation (10%)
  • Project (50%)