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CAH3035 : The World of Herodotus (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2022/23
  • 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


The aim of this module is to use the first major piece of historical prose to survive from antiquity as a vehicle both for exploring key aspects of Greek culture and society and the thought-worlds and histories of the various non-Greek peoples that feature in the text (e.g Achaemenid Persians, Scythians, Late Period Egypt).

The focus upon both the role of ethnographic description within the Histories and the light this sheds on what it meant to be Greek in the first place will lead to wider consideration of the politics of representation/related concepts (race, ethnicity and culture as well as an opportunity to reflect on the place of Herodotus (and Classics more broadly!) within wider debates e.g. surrounding decolonising or Climate Change.

The module also aims to equip you with the necessary skills and experience to be able to communicate complex material to a non-specialist audience via the medium of powerpoint.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered may include: The relationship between Herodotus’ Histories and the wider intellectual/cultural milieu from which they emerged; his views on religion and science; Geographical knowledge; Herodotean ethnography, its function and purpose; Herodotus’ treatment of Egypt and Scythia in the light of material evidence from these regions; Herodotus’ narrative of the rise of Persia under Cyrus the Great, the palace coup that led to Darius’ succession and the Persian invasions; Herodotus on Ionia; Herodotus’ relationship with Athens; his views on democracy, tyrants and despots; gold-digging ants and bearded ladies; crime and punishment in Herodotus’ Histories; the reception of Herodotus’ Histories both in antiquity and during the long 19th century (aka ‘The Age of Empire’).

Seminars will address topics such as: A ‘Serious’ historian? (Gold-digging ants and other tall tales); True lies? (Sources and veracity); Herodotus and the Persian Empire; Empire and tyranny; Herodotus the barbarian-lover?; Ethnographic writing; Brave and bold? (Herodotus’ women); Herodotean identities and the nature of Greek identity; Race and the Barbarian; Herodotus and the Anthropocene.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Part of student contact hours (e.g. 1 hr of recordings/related activities p/w)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture41:004:00Module intro + skills training (delivering presentation/revision session)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading621:0062:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00Seminars.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities451:0045:00Seminar preparation - av. 5 hours per week.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and associated materials will introduce you to key 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, reading and note-taking skills will play a key role in this process. The seminar discussions 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 and oral communication skills and your ability to work collaboratively as part of a team.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A5048-hour take home exam.
Oral Presentation102M20Deliver a 10 minute conference-style presentation, supported by handout/powerpoint, followed by >5 mins of questions.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj2M30A piece of ethnographic writing (2000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written assignment assesses knowledge and understanding of both the text which provides a focus for the module, Herodotus' Histories, and related themes such as the function and purpose of ethnographic description (whether in the Histories or more broadly). The assignment will also test your ability to respond creatively to a set brief in clear, succinct prose.

The take-home exam 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 write clearly and concisely.

In addition to testing the students' knowledge of a particular aspect of the course, the oral presentation tests the students' key skills in research, written and oral communication together with their ability to develop and employ visual/other materials effectively.

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.

Reading Lists