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The University of Southampton

HIST1155 Introduction to the Ancient World

Module Overview

The Ancient World has profoundly influenced subsequent generations of history, and helps us to understand the foundations of today’s world. This module provides an introduction to this momentous period of history from Dark Age Greece to the emergence of Islam. We will explore major civilisations including Classical Greece, the Hellenistic world, the Roman Republic, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire up to the rise of Islam. This module will introduce you to central themes in Greek, Roman and Byzantine history, assessing political processes, socio-cultural changes and ideological developments. A wide array of evidence will be investigated from the literary to the material and visual, such as historical writings, art, architecture, archaeology, inscriptions, and philosophy. Throughout we will ask major questions: what were the key turning points and markers of change in the Ancient World? What were the distinctive features of the major ancient civilisations? How did the dominant civilisations interact with other cultures and societies under their rule? Importantly, we will also investigate the reception of the Ancient World: how has it been understood by subsequent generations and what is its significance and impact throughout history? In this way, the module will provide you with an overview and important background knowledge that will support you in the rest of your degree and beyond.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The chronology, history and societies of the Ancient World from Dark Age Greece to the emergence of Islam
  • Key characteristics of Bronze Aegean, Greek, Roman and Byzantine societies
  • The relationships between the Graeco-Roman world and other contemporary societies (e.g. Jews, Christians, Egyptians, Persians, Arabs, Celts, etc)
  • The relationship between textual and material evidence
  • Debates on the factors that affected political, social and ideological developments in the Ancient World
  • The latest research on the history of diverse contexts and societies in the Ancient World
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Compare the characteristics of key periods within the Ancient World
  • Assess potential contributing factors to change within the Ancient World (social, political, cultural and religious)
  • Analyse diverse forms of interaction between different societies
  • Express familiarity with and interpret critically a variety of primary sources from the Ancient World
  • Identify and evaluate different historical interpretations of the Ancient World
  • Understand the significance of the Ancient World for subsequent periods of history
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a range of perspectives in problem-solving
  • Critically analyse a diverse range of source material
  • Organise and structure material to write and present confidently
  • Participate actively in group discussions and debate
  • Communicate a coherent and convincing argument in both oral and written formats


An indicative list of the topics covered in the module includes: 1. Minoan/Mycenaean to Dark Age Greece 2. Classical Greece 3. Hellenistic world 4. Greece and its Neighbours 5. Republican Rome 6. Roman Empire 7. Rome and its Neighbours 8. Constantine and the fall of Rome 9. Byzantium and the rise of Islam 10. The reception of the Ancient World (including a visit to the British Museum)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • One-hour lectures. The lectures will provide you with general knowledge and understanding about chronology, events, societies and key concepts. The lectures will also provide an introduction and context for interpreting the set texts, which will be discussed and debated in detail in the accompanying seminars. • One-hour seminars. Seminars will focus on detailed reading and analysis of primary sources, along with major questions of debate in scholarship. Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument. Such discussions will also allow you to reflect on the historiography and on broader attitudes towards the period in question. • Opportunity for individual consultations with seminar tutors and feedback on assignments Learning activities include: • Preparatory reading before each seminar • Participation in group and seminar discussion • Independent reading of the sources provided and of related secondary works • Preparing and delivering presentations in seminars • Independent research of additional information and source materials

Completion of assessment task79
Preparation for scheduled sessions112
Follow-up work30
Wider reading or practice30
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Mitchell, M.M and F.M. Young (eds) (2006). The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 1: Origins to Constantine. 

Shipley, G (2000). The Greek World after Alexander 323-30 BC. 

Cameron, A (1993). The Mediterranean world in late antiquity, AD 395-600. 

Kleiner, D (1992). Roman Sculpture. 

Goodman, M (1997). The Roman World 44 BC - AD 180. 

Cornell, T.J (1995). The Beginnings of Rome. 

Crawford, M (1992). The Roman Republic. 

Kraus, C.S. and A.J. Woodman (1997). Latin Historians. 

Wells, C (1992). The Roman Empire. 

Elsner, J (1996). Art and Text in Roman Culture. 

Gill, C (1995). Greek Thought. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics. 

Cameron, A (1993). The Later Roman Empire. 

Beard, M., J. North and S. Price (1998). Religions of Rome. Vol. 1, A history. 

Brown, P (1993). The making of late antiquity. 

Erskine, A., (ed) (2003). A Companion to the Hellenistic World. 

Marincola, J (1997). Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography. 

Hornblower, S (2002). The Greek World 479-323 BC. 

Champion, C.B., (ed.) (2004). Roman Imperialism: Readings and Sources. 

Rohrbacher, D (2002). The historians of late antiquity. 

Price, S. and P. Thonemann (2011). The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine. 

Walbank, F.W (1992). The Hellenistic World. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise 20%
Essay 30%
Presentation 20%
Written assignment 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

There will be costs associated with the trip to the British Museum, London (including coach hire, congestion charges etc). Some of this cost will be undertaken by the Faculty.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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