Module Catalogue 2020/21

CAC8000 : Research Skills and Development

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr John Holton
  • Lecturer: Dr Sally Waite, Dr Claire Stocks, Dr Susanna Phillippo, Professor Jakob Wisse, Professor Federico Santangelo, Dr Simon Corcoran, Dr Micaela Langellotti, Dr Joseph Skinner
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This introductory module to the MA programme provides students with an induction to the diverse world of research practice in Classics and Ancient History. Emphasis is placed on acquiring a deeper understanding of various research skills, particularly regarding different bodies of ancient source material and systems for their arrangement and interpretation.

The overall aims of this module are threefold:
i) To provide a sufficient level of advanced research training as to enable enrolled students to cross the threshold into doctoral programmes, or, via its transferrable value, to equip students with the attributes beneficial in the professional world;
ii) To encourage students to reflect on and take ownership of their own personal development trajectories, and in doing so take steps down structured routes into autonomy;
iii) To foster (in common with CAC8110) a broad, dynamic set of skills with respect to sources, models, and interpretation, ultimately ensuring that each student is equipped with a diverse toolkit for pursuing subsequent study and research in Classics and Ancient History.

In the context of the MA programme, this module’s learning outcomes anticipate and are complementary with the following other modules.

• CAC8110: Ancient Cultures in Context
• CAC8009: Performance and Text
• CAC8011: The Writing of History
• CAC8090: Dissertation

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will have 24 contact hours, and typically will be structured into 12 separate 2-hour sessions. 10 of these will be framed as small-group teaching sessions, and these will consist firstly of a briefing and then skills-specific teaching and learning sessions. Based on the staff expertise particular to Newcastle, and with the commitment to research-led teaching, these teaching and learning sessions may involve focuses on:

• Epigraphy
• Numismatics
• Papyri
• Material culture
• Manuscripts and textual transmission
• Poetry and intertextual relationships
• Classical reception
• Commentaries and reviews
• Digital Humanities
• The Shefton Collection of antiquities (housed at the campus-adjacent Great North Museum)

2 separate 2-hour workshops make up the remainder of the 24 contact hours. These will focus on preparing for the assigned work for the module, namely a Personal Development Plan (PDP) and a research essay, and will involve group tasks and student-led presentations.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. To appraise the research practices of a diverse range of scholarly sub-fields in Classics and Ancient History, and to demonstrate an informed awareness of how to pursue research in these fields further on an independent basis;
2. To review how different research skills in Classics and Ancient History are developed (especially relating to different corpora of evidence), and to determine how these skills might be further enhanced and applied to a plurality of self-chosen areas of study;
3. To devise, through a combination of staff guidance and self-reflection, an individual trajectory of development for the year-long MA programme, including a strategic evaluation of a dissertation topic, research/professional training needs, and progress onto pathway-specific modules (CAC8009/8011);
4. To identify and investigate independently a self-chosen research topic drawn from the conspectus of the module's teaching programme, resulting in an extended written research-essay;
5. Overall, to recognise meaningfully the advanced level of the skill-sets and knowledge bases that are involved in studying on the MA programme (and how they are distinct from previous UG study), and how these might be claimed in the pursuit of future research or professional opportunities.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. To discuss, analyse, evaluate, and integrate the advanced research skills relating to a range of sub-fields in Classics and Ancient History in which Newcastle staff have expertise;
2. To practise and recognise the learning value of collaboration and discussion with student peers and teaching staff throughout the module’s teaching and learning activities, including student-led content;
3. To apply advanced research skills learnt during the module to a self-chosen area of study;
4. To consolidate and expand competence with respect to the presentation of individual work in written and oral forms;
5. To utilise structured opportunities for personal and professional reflection in (i) identifying objectives for the duration of the MA programme, (ii) planning against training needs and learning obstacles, and (iii) appraising how the skills learnt in the module can become stepping-stones to future opportunities.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1001:00100:00Essay research and writing, plus completion of PDP
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading721:0072:00Weekly readings (6 hours per week)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00Skills-based seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Workshops on PDP and research essay
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity41:004:00Reflection and rough draft for PDP workshop
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The learning outcomes, both knowledge and skills, for this module fundamentally underpin the teaching and learning methods employed.

Seminars will principally consist of teacher-introduced material which will serve as the basis for discussion of a particular set of skills over a single two-hour session. Reading will be assigned in advance and will inform this discussion. Ultimately, the aim is to create a learning environment in which students take an active role in their own skills-development, and indeed support each other’s development, while being guided by staff expertise and experience. This type of learning activity aligns with knowledge outcomes 1 & 2 and skills outcomes 1 & 2.

Workshops will explicitly prepare students for the two assessment components of the module, namely the Personal Development Plan (PDP) and the research-essay, themselves designed to assess the broader sets of knowledge and skills developed over the course of the module. For the former, a reflective task and the completion of a rough draft will be assigned as work in advance, and for the latter a small sample of a proposed topic will be prepared and presented by each student. This type of learning activity aligns with knowledge outcomes 3, 4, & 5, and skills outcomes 3, 4, & 5.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A10Personal development plan (PDP) - 1,500-word reflective assignment
Essay1A904000 word research paper (Topic to be agreed with a member of staff)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment for this module has been designed in tandem with the learning outcomes and with the chosen teaching and learning activities.

The Personal Development Plan (PDP), 1,500 words long and due towards the end of the semester, is intended to encourage students to take ownership of their learning trajectories and to think reflectively about their objectives within and beyond the MA (including for the dissertation and for the signature modules CAC8009/8011), and about what obstacles and training needs need to be addressed for the successful achievement of these objectives. This activity will be supported by a two-hour workshop, with a reflective task and the completion of a rough draft assigned beforehand, and by staff guidance throughout the module. This assessment component aligns with knowledge outcomes 2, 3, & 5, and with skills outcome 5.

The written research-essay, 4,000 words long and due after the close of teaching for the semester, builds on the skills content introduced in the module. Students will be asked to devise a research question on the basis of one (or more) area of this skills content, with staff guidance but predominantly as an independent exercise (and thus as a structured step into autonomy), which will then serve as the basis for their essay. All research questions will be approved, including the issue of their level-appropriateness, by the module leader. Staff guidance will be available throughout the module for this exercise, but it will also be supported by a two-hour workshop at which students present their plans and a sample of their proposed content; this will enable students to obtain both staff- and peer-feedback ahead of the formal completion of the task, and will ensure that the aims of the assignment are fully clarified. This assessment component aligns with knowledge outcomes 1, 2, & 4, and with skills outcomes 1, 2, 3, & 4.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.