CL1TR-Texts, Readers, and Writers

Module Provider: Classics
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Prof Eleanor Dickey


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module explores the history of texts, reading, and writing in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. We shall look at literature, papyri, inscriptions, letters, Linear B, etc. Attention will also be given to the invention of the alphabet and to ancient writing materials and technologies. No knowledge of Latin, ancient Greek, or the ancient world more generally is required.


This module aims to give students the knowledge and skills needed for the Classical Studies degree. The knowledge includes an understanding of the major ancient writing and numeral systems and of the types of literary and non-literary texts produced in ancient Greece and Rome, their contexts, the materials and technologies used to create them, and the care needed when approaching them in translation. The skills include the ability to absorb large amounts of information in written form, to engage directly with ancient sources, to engage critically with secondary sources, to write academic essays using sources correctly, to follow complex instructions successfully, to deliver oral presentations effectively in front of an audience, to respond appropriately to oral presentations, to work independently and in groups, to manage workload, and to plan for deadlines. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • show a general understanding of the types of literary and non-literary texts produced in ancient Greece and Rome, and their contexts;

  • demonstrate understanding of the special issues concerning inscriptions, papyri, and Linear B;

  • demonstrate knowledge of the Greek alphabet;

  • demonstrate knowledge of some ancient numeral systems;

  • show acquaintance with the principles of syllabic and ideographic scripts;

  • demonstrate knowlege of some ancient and medieval technologies connected to ancient texts;

  • show awareness of the difference between a translation and an original text, and an ability to pick the best translation for a particular purpose;

  • demonstrate the ability to research for and write an academic essay using sources correctly;

  • demonstrate the ability to deliver oral present ations effectively in front of an audience, and to respond appropriately to oral presentations;

  • demonstrate the ability to follow complex instructions successfully;

  • demonstrate the ability to absorb large quantities of information from independent reading, to retain that information, and to use it effectively in addressing new questions.

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills, reading and oral comprehension skills, workload planning and deadline management, and the student's effectiveness in group situations. Students are also encouraged to develop their IT skills by use of computer resources. 

Outline content:

Topics studied may include:

• papyri;

• inscriptions;

• Linear B tablets;

• Vindolanda tablets;

• Greek literature;

• Roman literature;

• ancient scholarship;

• the transmission of ancient texts to our time

• translations and how to evaluate them.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module will be taught by seminars with two contact hours per week. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study: 180
Total hours by term 200 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Oral assessment and presentation 50
Set exercise 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Oral assessments:

1) One oral assessment of 20 minutes in length in or around the last week of autumn term, to be individually scheduled: 15%

2) One oral assessment of 40 minutes in length in the summer term, to be individually scheduled: 35%

Coursework and in-class tests:

1) Successful completion of the majority of the seminars and associated assignments as well as attendance at feedback sessions is required to pass the module, but these do not contribute directly to the final mark. Instead, receiving credit for the set exercise and for the essay is conditional upon meeting this requirement: students who do not meet it will receive marks of zero on the exercise and/or the essay as appropriate.

2) The set exercise, of c. 500 words, is due on Monday of week 5 of term.

3) The essay, of c. 2000 words, can be submitted for any one of three deadlines: Monday of week 7 of term, Monday of week 9 of term, or Monday of week 11 of term (the last Monday of term). Essays must answer one of the questions provided for that submission date, be based on the reading set for that question, and follow all other directions given. 

Formative assessment methods:

Seminar discussion, seminar presentations, written seminar work, written exercises in lectures, and Blackboard quizzes will be used for formative assessment.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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:

A grade of 40% overall. 

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-examination in August. Coursework 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: 14 September 2020


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