Classical Literature - CLAS3730

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Anne Alwis checkmark-circle


This module offers students a wide-ranging grounding in classical literature as a basis for the further study of Western literature within a comparative framework. Major works of ancient Greek and Roman literature are studied in order to enable students to appreciate literary engagement with the classical world: for example, myth; the relationship between human beings and the gods, between the sexes, and between the human and the animal; and the journey motif. Themes explored may include sexuality, violence, conceptions of justice, and metamorphosis.

The module introduces students to some of the major genres of Western literature (tragedy, comedy, the epic), and considers how these were theorised in antiquity. It also encourages students to reflect on questions of cultural transmission, and on why the myths represented in classical literature have proved to be such a rich source for the literature of the West.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (2,000 words) – 60%

Reassessment method:
100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative reading list:

Any edition:
Aeschylus, Agamemnon
Apollonius of Rhodes, The Voyage of the Argo/Jason and the Golden Fleece
Aristotle, Poetics
Aristophanes, Lysistrata
Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey
Ovid, Metamorphoses
Sophocles, Oedipus the King and Antigone
Virgil, The Aeneid

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an understanding of ancient Greek and Roman literature, with particular emphasis on its recurring thematic preoccupations and its cultural context;
2 Show familiarity with major classical myths and mythical figures, and their significance (e.g. the Trojan War; Odysseus' return from Troy; Prometheus; Oedipus; Jason and Medea; Aeneas and the founding of Rome);
3 Demonstrate a sense of the origins of some of the major genres in Western literature, including tragedy, comedy, and the epic, and how these were theorised in antiquity;
4 Engage critically with classical literature through close readings of works in different genres (poetry, drama, narrative);
5 Demonstrate understanding of key motifs in classical literature that prove important for Western literature thereafter;
6 Demonstrate an appreciation of the similarities and differences between ancient Greek and Roman literature.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an ability to synthesise, summarise, and present their arguments cogently about a literary text;
2 Demonstrate written communication skills, including the structuring of an original argument;
3 Demonstrate the ability to read closely and critically, and to apply a range of critical terms to literary texts;
4 Demonstrate the ability to undertake comparative analysis.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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