Module Catalogue 2023/24

CAH1012 : West meets East: Greek History and Society

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joseph Skinner
  • Lecturer: Dr Matthew Haysom
  • 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 aims to:

Introduce you to the broad sweep of Greek history (broadly defined) from the traditional date for the first Olympic Games (776 BC) until the Hellenistic period, highlighting key topics and themes (e.g. contact and interaction with 'foreign' peoples in Egypt, Italy or Ionia, the emergence and internal workings of the Greek city-state, Alexander's conquests and legacy).

Expand and significantly deepen your understanding of both the nature and internal workings of Greek society, including the experiences of marginalised or disenfranchised groups (women, non-resident aliens, and slaves) and the way in which modern attitudes and ideas have impacted the way we think about the past, whether this be the 'Hoplite Revolution' or concepts surrounding Race and identity.

Enable you to engage critically with scholarship dealing with historical questions which are of central importance to our wider understanding of that period (e.g. the so-called Black Athena debate, ideas about gender/sexuality).

Foster and further develop your core skills (and confidence) in using and evaluating a wide variety of literary and material evidence to answer historical questions (e.g. epic and lyric poetry, Greek coinage, painted pottery and epigraphy - the study of inscriptions).

Provide you with an accessible, exciting, and (at times) highly provocative introduction to the study of both the ancient Greeks and ancient history in general that will enable you pursue your interests successfully at Stages 2 or 3 irrespective of any prior knowledge or experience that you might possess.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will provide you with a broad introduction to history of the Archaic and Classical Greek world from 776 BC until the Hellenistic period. Key political events in mainland Greece and the Aegean will be set in their wider mediterranean context: a world shaped by mobility, inter-cultural contact and exchange that extended from the Rock of Gibraltar (known in antiquity as the Pillars of Herakles) to (following Alexander's conquests) the White Mountains in what is now Afghanistan.

Topics covered might include: the origins and nature of Greek identity, art and culture; Greek settlement overseas; contact and interaction with non-Greeks; political thought; the origins, development and internal workings of the Greek city state; Greek society (slavery, religious belief, gender and sexuality); the economy; the Persian Wars; the Delian League and the road to empire; Athenian democracy; Sparta; The Peloponnesian War; Athens’ downfall and its immediate aftermath; the causes of Sparta’s defeat and the rise of Thebes; the rise of Macedon under Philip, the conquests and legacy of Alexander the Great, and the age of the Hellenistic kingdoms.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, you will have:
1. A sound knowledge of the broad sweep of Greek history (broadly defined) from the eighth century BC to the Hellenistic period.
2. A comprehensive understanding of some of the major historical topics or themes that shaped the Greek world during this period.
3. A more nuanced appreciation of both the internal workings of Greek society, including a sensitivity to the marginalisation of disenfranchised groups, and the way modern attitudes have influenced the way the past is imagined and narrated e.g. the historical tendency to think of Greek civilisation as something 'pure' which developed in isolation from other cultures or to see Greek mobility and settlement overseas as operating along the same lines as modern settler colonialism.
4. Become accustomed to using a wide variety of literary and material evidence to answer historical questions, whether in the context of seminar discussions or written analysis.

Intended Skill Outcomes

In order to complete this module successfully you will need to demonstrate:
1. the ability to engage with both a wide variety of primary evidence and modern scholarship in an informed and critical manner
2. the ability to deploy a variety of primary evidence to support a logical structured and reasoned argument
3. the ability to communicate clearly and effectively through written prose using conventions appropriate to the subject area
4. the ability to absorb key information designed to facilitate future learning at an advanced level e.g. a broad familiarity with mediterranean geography or an understanding of core concepts or terminology.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Course intro, study skills and revision session.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00Lectures on core historical topics or themes.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading781:0078:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical21:002:00Object-handling sessions in Great North Museum or equivalent online activity.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities391:0039:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00Seminar discussions devoted to exploring set readings etc relating to core historical questions.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and associated readings will introduce you to key historical topics, themes or debates. Their aim is to provide you with core knowledge and skills and thus a point of departure for further independent study. Your listening, reading and note-taking skills will play a key role in this process.

The set tasks and ensuing seminar discussions are an opportunity for you to develop your understanding dynamically, e.g. by familiarising you with the various different forms of primary evidence selected and following the structured routes to a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the topic which will then be further developed and enhanced through discussions during the seminar itself. Active participation in the seminars will enable you to develop your analytical skills, oral communication skills and your ability to work collaboratively as part of a team.

Two hours of the course will be spent either in the Great North Museum or in an object-handling session in order to allow you to study the material evidence first-hand rather than relying on images published in books and articles (e.g. painted vases, silver coinage). The timing of this session will allow us to revisit and significantly deepen your understanding of key topics within the course (e.g. hoplite warfare, the place of women in Greek society, Greek identity).

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination28801A6548-hour Take Home Paper (students expected to spend 90 mins on it)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M351500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MMap and Class test administered via Canvas - this is Computer Assessment 1
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The commentary exercise gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to:
1. engage with both a designated piece of primary evidence and modern scholarship in an informed and critical manner;
2. communicate clearly and effectively through written prose using conventions appropriate to the subject;
3. employ primary evidence to support a logical structured and reasoned argument.

The take-home examination tests your acquisition of a clear, general and overall knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided and to write clearly and concisely.

The formative assessment (a class test delivered via Canvas) is designed to test your knowledge of Mediterranean geography, key terminology and core concepts (familiarising yourself with these at an early stage will make it far easier to navigate the course as a whole).

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 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 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.