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Exploring the classical world

This module is for anyone interested in ancient Greece and Rome. You will investigate a wide range of topics such as Homer’s poetry and the society where it was created; 5th century Athens; republican Rome; and Roman social history. This module explores ancient poetry, drama and historical texts in English translations along with art, architecture and archaeological evidence, to build an understanding of the classical world. Whether your interest in Greece and Rome is long-standing or new, this module will give you a fresh perspective, develop your skills in analysis and evaluation and lay a firm foundation for further exploration.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
A229
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

The civilisations of classical Greece and Rome are in many respects far removed from our own, but are nevertheless highly relevant to modern western culture.
You'll begin with the overall geography and history of the era to gain a framework in which you can situate the individual cultures and periods that you'll study in this module. It will also provide background knowledge for further modules in classical studies that you may wish to take in the future.

After this introduction, the module is organised historically, allowing you to study a range of different topics in chronological order, moving from Greece to Rome. However, it isn't simply a survey module, as you will engage, in depth, with a selection of particularly interesting aspects of the classical world. The common theme running throughout the module is an exploration of what made different places and times culturally distinctive, and how we can try to understand them so many years later. The module is divided into the following six sections:

Introduction 
This will help you think about the methods that we can use to study the classical world, and introduce you to the sources at our disposal. It will also let you familiarise yourself with key features of Greek and Roman geography and history.

Block 1 Homer and the Early Greek World 
This block focuses on early Greek culture and society by looking at literary texts and material evidence from the period from around 800 to 500 BCE. You will explore the epics which relate to the stories of the Trojan War, and which are attributed to the poet Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey – and other poetic texts from this early period of Greek history, as well as material culture (archaeological remains, sculpture and vase painting).

Block 2: Classical Athens 
This block looks at Athens in the fifth century BCE. You will explore four major cultural products of the fifth century BCE: Aeschylus' tragedy, the Persians; the buildings on the Acropolis; Pericles’ Funeral Speech; and Aristophanes' comedy Lysistrata. These sources have a shared focus: the Athenians' understanding of their own identity as Athenians.

Block 3: The Roman Republic 
This block examines Roman cultural identity stating from Greek settlement in Italy the expansion of the Roman Republic in Italy, the organisation of the Roman Republic, reputations of members of the Roman elite and the city of Rome. Your work then explores four important figures from Roman history: Spartacus –the leader of a slave revolt; the poet Catullus, the orator Cicero and the general Julius Caesar.

Block 4: Rome – City and People 
This block turns to social history. This block turns to social history. You will learn about the population of Rome, how it was organised socially, slavery, family life and mass entertainment shows, in the city of Rome. You will work closely with ancient sources including the letters of Pliny the Younger and of Cicero and inscriptions on tombstones.

Block 5: Revision and Retrospection 
This block will help you to look back and pull together the threads that run through the module in preparation for the end-of-module assessment that is an extended essay.

You will learn

As you go through the module, you will:

  • acquire a broad knowledge of the political, social and cultural history as well as the geography of the classical world
  • acquire a broad knowledge and understanding of the various disciplines that make up classical studies, and develop your ability to practise the methods of enquiry used by these disciplines
  • develop your ability to examine critically different kinds of ancient material and modern interpretations of this material
  • develop skills to communicate your knowledge and understanding in an appropriately scholarly manner.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials and day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Exploring the classical world starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2029.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    2 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 2 module and builds on the OU level 1 modules The arts past and present (AA100), and Voices, texts and material culture (A105). These OU level 1 modules develop skills such as logical thinking, clear expression, essay writing and the ability to select and interpret relevant materials. They also offer an introduction to a range of subjects in the arts and humanities. If you have not studied at university level before, you are strongly advised to study at OU level 1 before progressing to OU level 2 study.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    If you have not taken an OU level 1 module in the arts, you will find it useful to have The Arts Good Study Guide (E. Chambers and A. Northedge, The Open University), which will help you to develop your study skills.

    Register

    Start End Fee
    - - -

    No current presentation - see Future availability

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2029.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 16/12/2018.

    What's included

    Books, other printed material, and website including audio and video materials.

    You will regularly use online audios and videos. The teaching features a balance of printed materials and online study. It also provides its own user-friendly website, including maps of the ancient world, and an audio pronunciation guide of ancient names. The use of all these materials is straightforward and carefully introduced in the module.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    Materials to buy

    Set books

    • Pomeroy, S.B., et al. (ed) A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society, and Culture (International 3rd edn) Oxford University Press £32.99 - ISBN 9780199981564
    • Radice, B. (trans.) The Letters of the Younger Pliny Penguin £9.99 - ISBN 9780140441277
    • Homer: Verity, A. (trans.) The Iliad Oxford University Press £8.99 - ISBN 9780199645213
    • Gwynn, D.M. The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction Oxford University Press £7.99 - ISBN 9780199595112

    Note: for 'A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society and Culture', please ensure that you purchase the International 3rd edition, ISBN 9780199981564, for October 2018 module presentation.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying A229 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.