Module Catalogue 2020/21

CAC8110 : Ancient Cultures in Context

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr John Holton
  • 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 module, one of the initial modules taken by entrants onto the MA programme, provides students with an advanced exposure to the different methods for interpreting ancient cultures (in the broadest sense) in a variety of different contexts. Emphasis is placed on acquiring a deeper understanding of the particular practices of various research fields, theoretical approaches, and different models for interpretation and reconstruction.

The overall aims of the module are threefold:

i) To encourage students of different disciplinary backgrounds to expand their skill-sets and conceptual horizons via exposure to different models of interpretation and contextualisation;
ii) To stimulate critical thinking about the robustness of integrated, interdisciplinary approaches to subject material in Classics and Ancient History;
iii) To foster (in common with CAC8000) 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.

• CAC8000: Research Skills and Development
• CAC8009: Performance and Text
• CAC8011: The Writing of History
• CAC8090: Dissertation

Outline Of Syllabus

Typically, this module will be structured around four major research case-studies relating to the active research expertise of Newcastle staff, which will be presented by that staff and discussed with students in a dialogic, seminar-style forum. An essay-planning workshop and individual drop-in session will be provided for in the schedule, and the module will conclude with an essay workshop, featuring research samples presented by the students as an opportunity for obtaining formative feedback on an essay topic.

1-2: Module introduction
3-6: Case-study 1
7-10: Case-study 2
11-12: Workshop on essay-planning
13-16: Case-study 3
17-20: Case-study 4
21: Essay-planning drop-in session
22-24: Essay workshop: student presentations

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. To appraise the models and approaches deployed in a range of scholarly sub-fields in Classics and Ancient History, and to demonstrate an informed awareness of how to pursue research using such models and approaches on an independent basis;
2. To review how different research skills in Classics and Ancient History are developed (especially relating to issues of modern interpretation), and to determine how these skills might be further enhanced and applied to a plurality of self-chosen areas of study;
3. To identify and investigate independently a self-chosen research topic inspired by a topic featuring in the conspectus of the module’s teaching programme, resulting in an extended written research-essay;
4. Overall, to recognise the value of integrating different disciplinary skill-sets and interpretative approaches, and to evolve an interdisciplinary perspective (distinct from previous UG study) that will be beneficial for the duration of the MA programme and beyond.

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 response to feedback of various kinds, in the pursuit of constructive academic improvement.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1001:00100:00Essay research and writing, plus presentation preparation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading721:0072:00Weekly readings (6 hours per week)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00Research-based seminar teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Student essay presentation workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Essay planning workshop
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity41:004:00Reflection for essay-planning workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Essay-planning drop-in consultation
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 research case-study (a ‘culture in context’) over two two-hour sessions. 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 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, & 4, and skills outcomes 1 & 2.

Workshops and a drop-in session will explicitly prepare students for the assessment component of the module, namely the research-essay, itself designed to assess the broader sets of knowledges and skills developed over the course of the module. In one workshop, a reflective task related to essay-planning will be assigned as work in advance, and for another a small sample of a proposed topic will be prepared and presented by each student. This type of learning activity aligns with knowledge outcomes 2, 3, & 4, 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
Essay1A100Research essay of 4,000 words
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 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 inspired by (but not necessarily featuring the same topic as) a contextualising approach featured in one or more of the case-studies introduced in the teaching and learning sessions, and they will do so with staff guidance but predominantly as an independent exercise (and thus as a structured step into autonomy); this question 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 three activities: (i) a two-hour essay planning workshop for which students will complete a reflective planning task in advance; (ii) a one-hour essay drop-in consultation with a specialist member of staff; and (iii) a three-hour workshop at which students present a sample of their proposed content. These three activities 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.


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.