CL3AB-Ancient Biography

Module Provider: Classics
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Timothy Duff


Type of module:

Summary module description:

A study of ancient biographical writing from its beginnings to its developed form as seen in Plutarch, based on a series of case-studies of texts relating to key historical figures.

This module aims to introduce students to the genres of ancient biographical writing from its beginnings to its developed form as seen in Plutarch, and to teach students to evaluate biographical texts relating to Pericles, Alcibiades, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
• Demonstrate knowledge of the ancient genre of biography and discuss ancient concepts of it;
• Discuss and evaluate the content, structure and purpose of selected biographical texts;
• Demonstrate knowledge of other literary evidence for selected figures;
• Discuss the content, structure and themes of Plutarch's Parallel Lives.

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills, through student participation in and presentation of seminars. It also aims to encourage critical thinking, through the assessment of ancient and modern texts, and to develop skills in presenting ideas and arguments logically and persuasively.

Outline content:

This module studies the devlopment of ancient biography. It begins with the history of biographical writing from 4th century texts such as the enkomion to its developed form in Plutarch. Then the careers of several major political figures are used to explore ancient conceptions of character and the varieties of ancient biographical writing: the careers of Agesilaos of Sparta, Pericles, Alcibiades, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and others are examined through their presentation in Plutarch, Xenophon, Thucydides, Suetonius and other ancient sources. Themes which we will examine include the relation of ancient biographical writing to oratory, ancient views on education, character, power, ambition and sex, and ancient conceptions of what made a man great.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Two hours a week, consisting of either lectures or seminars. The module is divided into roughly two-week sections, for each of which there is a set text, which must be read by all students before or during the relevant section. Seminars also require preparatory reading by all students.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Seminars 4
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 67
Written assignment including essay 33

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One three hour paper

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Students will write one essay of about 2,500 words to be submitted by 12 noon on the last day of term.

Relative percentage of coursework: 33%

One three hour paper requiring the completion of three essay questions.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
• where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
• where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
40% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed grade of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted in August.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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