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Reading classical Greek: language and literature

This module combines an introduction to classical Greek language with the study of classical Greek culture and literature in translation. It is intended for beginners in Greek and assumes no previous experience of language learning. The module teaches you basic vocabulary and grammar, and sets you on your way to reading Greek texts in the original. The module uses the JACT Reading Greek series, augmented by Study Guides. Your language learning is also supported by specially designed interactive resources. Alongside your language work, you study set texts in English (Euripides’ Medea, Aristophanes’ Clouds and Plato’s Defence of Socrates) from literary, cultural and performance angles.

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

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Module code
Study level
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

All references to the Greek language in these notes are to classical Greek, not modern Greek.

This module looks at the language and literature of classical Greece. It provides an introduction to the basics of classical Greek and allows you to lay solid foundations on which you can later build if you want to go on to read Greek authors in the original. It also develops your knowledge of the culture and literature of the classical era and includes the study, in translation, of three of the era’s most enduring texts: Euripides’ Medea, Aristophanes’ Clouds and Plato’s Defence of Socrates. No previous knowledge of Greek is required. This module is ideal both for students new to the discipline of classical studies and for anyone wising to expand their knowledge of the rich thought-world of classical Greece.

The structured approach of this module will enable students with a variety of backgrounds to develop an awareness of the cultural and linguistic characteristics of classical Greece. Its specially designed grammar and vocabulary materials make it accessible to people who have not studied an ancient language before. It will also be of particular interest to those who are already taking classical studies modules. It complements other OU level 2 modules, especially Exploring the classical world (A219)

While this module is designed in such a way as to be suitable for students wishing to cover only the basics of classical Greek, it also provides a sound foundation for more language-orientated students wanting to study authors in the original, such as Plato, Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles, Herodotus and Homer. It also offers a suitable grounding in language if you want to go on to postgraduate work in areas such as classical studies or philosophy. Also, as this module examines the culture and literature of classical Athens, it is ideal preparation for studying OU level 3 modules such as Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds (A330).

The linguistic core is based around the second edition of the textbook Reading Greek where you get to grips with the language by reading passages adapted from Greek authors. This emphasis on reading means that new vocabulary and grammar is always met in context, with the added advantage that while studying the language you gain an important insight into the literature and history of classical Greece. The passages you read are adapted from a number of authors such as Thucydides, Plato, Herodotus and Aristophanes.

The Language Study Guide is specially developed for independent learners. It will help you to understand the structure of Greek in greater depth and develop strategies for reading and understanding the language. It is designed to support all students, regardless of whether or not you have any previous experience of language learning. It offers important guidance in using the Reading Greek texts, helps you to pace your learning effectively and provides support throughout your studies.

The Literature Study Guide introduces you to a number of texts that you will read in translation, with special attention given to their authors’ use of language and to key cultural concepts. The key works you read are: Euripides’ Medea, a tragedy about betrayal and bitter revenge; Aristophanes’ Clouds, a bawdy comedy about Socrates and the changing intellectual climate in Athens in the 420s BCE; and Plato’s Defence of Socrates, a version of Socrates’ defence speech delivered at his trial in 399 BCE. During the module you will then study the Greek theatre and the changing thought world of classical Athens as well as gaining an overview (in translation) of some of the major authors of the classical Greek world.

The Language Study Guide is also backed up by another key resource: simple-to-use, interactive, web-based exercises that allow you to consolidate the language learning you have done and hone your knowledge. In addition, there is a Language Reference Book that sets out clearly, for quick reference, all the Greek grammar you will need for your study.

CDs provide short audio lectures that cover various aspects of the history, literature, thought and culture of the Greek world and also allow you to hear how classical Greek may have been pronounced using a number of readings from texts you will encounter in the module. There are also audio and DVD resources that support your study of the texts you read in translation. These include a filmed production of Euripides' Medea and specially recorded versions of Aristophanes' Clouds and Plato's Defence of Socrates. This module aims to provide a unique insight into Greek language and literature and the rich culture from which they originated.

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 or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

You must use the online eTMA system to submit some of your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). Your assignment booklet will tell you which method of submission you should use for each assignment.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


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

Course work includes:

7 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is a 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. AA100 also introduces the Greek world with a case study of Seamus Heany’s The Burial at Thebes, a modern version of Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone

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.

Your regional or national centre can advise you on where you can see reference copies of OU level 1 study materials. Some are also available from Open University Worldwide Ltd. We particularly recommend looking at these materials if you have not successfully completed OU level 1 study or studied at an equivalent level elsewhere.

Although you don’t require any knowledge of the Greek language, this module does demand consistent work and commitment from the beginning. If you have experience of learning an ancient language you will be aware that regular study sessions are the only way to gain and retain a reading knowledge of the language.

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

Preparatory work

The specially prepared website Interactive Introduction to Ancient Greek provides you with an excellent introduction to the study of the language. If you would like our preparatory leaflet, please send an A4 self-addressed envelope without a stamp to the A275 Curriculum Manager, Faculty of Arts, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2020.

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 you register.

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.

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

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. 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 qualification 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 modules.  

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 that is 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 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 01/08/2015.

What's included

Books, other printed materials, DVD, DVD-ROM, audio CDs, website.

You will need

CD player, DVD player.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Osborne, R. (ed) The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture (2nd edn) Cambridge University Press £23.99 - ISBN 9780521698535
  • Euripides: Harrison, J. (ed) Medea Cambridge University Press £7.95 - ISBN 9780521644792
  • Plato: Gallop, D. (trans.) Defence of Socrates, Euthyphro, and Crito Oxford World's Classics £6.99 - ISBN 9780199540501
  • Aristophanes: Sommerstein, A.H. (trans.) Clouds Aris & Phillips £19.99 - ISBN 9780856682100

Note: You need to purchase the specified editions of the set books. The module materials make close reference to these editions and include other information which you are required to read as part of your studies.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Sample pages of text are available from the A275 Curriculum Manager at the address above.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.