Module Catalogue 2019/20

CAH2036 : Greeks and Barbarians

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joseph Skinner
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module:
To explore ways in which the Greeks thought about both the wider world in which they lived and themselves.
To examine the history and origins of Barbarian stereotype and the degree to which this can/should be linked to the emergence of a wider sense of collective Greek identity.
To investigate the manner in which various different types of foreign peoples were represented in epic and lyric poetry, Attic drama and vase-painting, sculpture, and Historiography (Phoenicians, Thracians, Persians, Scythians, Amazons and the shaggy-haired, one-eyed Arimaspians).
To explore the degree to which these representations can provide us with an accurate reflection of day-to-day interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks.
To further develop your skills in source analysis and critical thinking in relation to current approaches to identity, race and ethnicity.

Outline Of Syllabus

The concept of ‘the Barbarian’ has proved hugely influential from antiquity until the present. To whom did the label ‘Barbarian’ typically apply, however, and what bearing did it have upon day-to-day interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks? The course will begin with a brief introduction to a variety of theories and methodologies in order to provide you with the intellectual tools necessary to successfully navigate the various case-studies e.g. theories of culture, gender, ethnicity and race, ‘Otherness’ and identity-construction, stereotypes and stereotyping.

The remainder (i.e. majority) of the module will consist of a series of case-studies examining topics such as foreigners in Athens, the representation of non-Greeks in iconography (vase painting and sculpture) and literature e.g. Trojans, Phoenicians and Thracians in Homer and Archilochus, Persians in Attic drama. Particular attention will be paid to the historical writings of Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon.

Seminars will explore topics such as the origins and function of ethnography in Greek thought, Greek attitudes towards People of Colour, the treatment of Trojans and Phoenicians in Homeric epic, Aeschylus’ Persians, Scythian archers in Athens, and whether Herodotus deserved to be styled philobarbaros (barbarian-lover).

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

During this module, you will:
•       gain knowledge of the range of Greek representations of non-Greek peoples, including a variety of peoples and a variety of forms of representation
•       develop an understanding of the complex nature of representations of those considered alien or ‘Other’ (in the modern world as well as the ancient) and of the relationship between the history of representations and the background history of events
•       deploy ancient evidence to answer historical questions, developing skills of critical analysis, interpretation and argument, whilst becoming aware of key problems in source interpretation and modern scholarship

Intended Skill Outcomes

The module will foster a variety of transferable skills (not all of which will be directly assessed), including: oral discussion, analytical reading of set texts, listening and note-taking, written exposition of a logically structured argument employing the appropriate primary and secondary materials, ethnographic description, critical self-reflection, and effective time-management.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture142:0028:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion751:0075:0045% of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading751:0075:0045% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Class discussions/close reading of set texts
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study141:0014:0010% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce you to key historical topics and how to approach them. Lectures are not merely intended to provide you with answers. Instead, they will provide you with the knowledge and skills that will enable you to both formulate and answer your own questions. Your listening and note-taking skills will play a key role in this process. The seminars are an opportunity for you to develop your understanding dynamically, e.g. by engaging in discussion of how you should go about addressing historical questions, the relative merits of different types of evidence or approach to the sources or by gaining clarification of any points that you do not understand. In doing so you will develop your analytical skills, oral communication skills and your ability to work as part of a team.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A251500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The set essay assesses knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module, the ability to compare and contrast set texts/passages, and the ability to expound and criticise a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space.
The unseen examination tests the students’ 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 purpose of (formatively assessed) written ethnography is to get students thinking about ethnography as practice, both in the ancient past and in the present.

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 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.