GRC20220 Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians

Academic Year 2024/2025

This is the core module for Stage 2 Greek and Roman Civilisation. The study of Greece and Rome has long been championed as the foundation of the 'west' and its values, yet neither civilisation existed in a vacuum, and both reflect remarkable receptivity to, and interaction with, non-Greek and -Roman cultures. These 'other' cultures were often dismissed rhetorically as 'barbarian', and as an existential threat to Greek and Roman normative values. As such this module explores identity formation and alterity, i.e., the creation of the 'other' in antiquity. It introduces students to debates about race and ethnicity, as well as how various cultures interacted, and sometimes clashed, with the cities of Greece or the Roman empire. Students will be introduced to the sources and methodologies that historians and literary scholars use to study alterity and the development of Greek and Roman identity, as well as how and why this rhetoric remains relevant in contemporary debates. You will explore literary, material, and visual culture and engage critically with modern scholarship. To this end the course is intended to prepare students to achieve the learning outcomes for the programme as a whole.

In Autumn 2023 the module will focus on two case studies: Greek and Roman engagements with Persia and Egypt. Unit 1 will focus on Greeks, Romans, and Persians. Unit 2 will focus on Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module students should be able to:

* synthesise information from a range of ancient and modern sources concerning Greek and Roman cultural identity;
* demonstrate an awareness of periodisation for Classical antiquity and how this relates to interactions with non Greek or Roman populations;
* analyse ancient evidence, place it in its context, and critically assess it;
* critically engage with modern scholarship and representations of ancient civilisations in popular culture, be able to contextualise them and critically reflect on them;
* apply this knowledge to submit written work that is coherently argued, backed up by evidence, well-presented, and documented in an academic format appropriate to the discipline
* apply this knowledge to group discussions in online fora, tutorials, and, where relevant, lectures.
* demonstrate awareness and understanding of diverse academic viewpoints on the interpretation and evaluation of Greek and Roman cultural identities.
* demonstrate awareness and understanding of diverse academic viewpoints on the interpretation and evaluation of non-Greek and non-Roman cultural identities.

Indicative Module Content:

In Autumn 2023 the module will explore Greek and Roman engagement with ancient Persia from the late Archaic/early Classical period until the early Roman Empire, and with Egypt from the Late Bronze Age to the early Roman Empire.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, and independent study. Students should engage fully with lectures and readings. The module develops academic writing and transferable skills such as critical thinking, engaging with problems, and synthesising knowledge to formulate arguments for verbal and written communication. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Dr Martin Brady Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Joanna Day Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Philip De Souza Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Helen Dixon Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Aude Doody Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Christopher Farrell Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Michael Lloyd Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Suzanne Lynch Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Bridget Martin Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Alexander Thein Lecturer / Co-Lecturer