University Modules

Many departments at the University of Sheffield offer modules through which students can learn about the ancient world. On this page you can begin to explore the wide range of courses on offer:

Courses

Level One Modules

Level Two Modules

Level Three Modules

Postgraduate Modules

Languages

Courses

BA Classical and Historical Archaeology

From ancient Greece and Rome to the medieval worlds of the Mediterranean and Europe, this course will provide you with an understanding of how this aspect of the past bears heavily on our lives today. At level one, you’ll study archaeological evidence and its relevance to the study of prehistory and early history. Levels two and three explore how archaeological knowledge is generated, and you’ll develop detailed knowledge of key aspects of the classical and historic past. Read More…

MA Aegan Archaeology

The Aegean region — modern Greece, including the islands of Crete and the Cyclades, and western Turkey — saw the earliest development in Europe of agriculture, palace-centred complex societies, cities, early writing systems, and metallurgy, first in bronze, then in iron. It was also home to some of the earliest excavations on prehistoric sites, such as Troy, Mycenae, Tiryns and Knossos. Our MA in Aegean Archaeology draws heavily on wide-ranging and groundbreaking research – and combines it with the department’s strengths in landscape archaeology, in the integration of textual and material evidence, and in archaeological science. The programme will be of interest to all who want to deepen their understanding of the prehistory and history of this region – and will appeal especially to students who wish to create a strong platform for doctoral research in any aspect of Aegean archaeology. Read More…

MA Classical and Ancient World

This interdisciplinary programme is distinctive in the UK and draws together expertise from across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in the fields of history, archaeology, religion, philosophy and literature of the ancient, classical and late antique Mediterranean world. By engaging in this truly interdisciplinary approach to the classical and ancient worlds, students are encouraged to explore, transcend and challenge boundaries between material and text, succeeding chronological periods, and between the Greco-Roman World and the Ancient Near East. A particular focus lies on the relationship between the centre and the peripheries in the period 800BC to 600AD, for example on the relationship between the Greek heartlands and the colonies, and Rome and its provinces. Read More…

MA Archaeology of the Classical Mediterranean

The Classical Mediterranean is often approached through its rich textual record. This course is ideal if you want to deepen your understanding of the early history of the Mediterranean by systematically including the full range of archaeological data that sometimes complement and sometimes contradict the textual. It creates a strong platform for future doctoral research combining these approaches. You’ll study a series of specialist core and optional modules on the archaeology of classical antiquity and later prehistory in the Mediterranean and neighbouring regions, situated within a sophisticated and intellectually demanding theoretical and methodological context. You’ll also complete a dissertation. You can specialise in early history (classical antiquity) or later prehistory (Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age), but a diachronic perspective and broad range of approaches are encouraged. Read More…

Modules

Level One

AAP110 The Classical World and its Legacy

Greco-Roman classical civilisation (particularly the ‘high culture’ of art, architecture, literature and political institutions) has long been seen as the inspiration for, and yardstick against which to judge, modern European culture. The rich and varied evidence of modern archaeology is used to explore how this high culture was supported and experienced by ordinary people. The course will consider the nature of Early Iron Age Greece and its Bronze Age background, the nature of its colonies in the Mediterranean, and the development of the Athenian Empire. The exploration of Italy will begin with the Iron Age peoples of the Italian peninsula, following on to trace the rise of Rome and her empire in the East and the West. The late Roman Empire will be examined with reference to the rise of Christianity and other eastern religions, and this will be traced through to the Early Medieval Period in Europe. The role of Islam in the formation of Europe, and the dissemination of Islamic culture, will be considered. The course will conclude by exploring the place of the Classical world in both modern Europe and the New World.  Read More…

HST114: Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe

In this module, you will explore one of the central themes of European history between the 4th and 14th centuries: the shifting relations between power, religion, and identity. In the early part of the period, the dominant issue was that of conversion from ‘paganism’, a word labelling a great range of religious practices, to Christianity; in the middle part, questions of the right relationship between ‘secular’ and religious authority came to the fore, as did the question of violence; in the latter part, the balance that had emerged from previous struggles entered into crisis, as new and transformative forces were brought to bear. Read More…

REL101: Understanding the Old Testament

This module introduces the Old Testament as an ancient text. We look at the geographical, social and historical background of its production and consider the ways that modern readers understand this. Every Old Testament book is briefly introduced, and we examine the critical scholarship on its form and content. Read More…

REL118: Introduction to Islam

This module offers an introduction and overview of the religion of Islam. We will look at the formative life of the prophet Mohammed in his social, religious and cultural context as well as the early history of the Islamic faith and its central pillars of faith. We will find out more about some of the major historical events and periods of Islam up to the present day and we will explore the Koran and Hadith. We will also pay attention to the history of Christian-Muslim relations and to the form and influence of Islamic art and architecture. Read More…

REL123: The World of Early Judaism

This module will introduce you to some of the beliefs and practices of formative Judaism, from around the fourth century BCE to around the third century CE. You will be introduced to: the historical and cultural contexts of different Jewish groups and individuals; Jewish sects (e.g. Pharisees); writings (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls); and ideas (e.g. end times and apocalypse) and look at how different Jewish groups interacted with the wider Mediterranean world through the following topics: cosmology and heavenly journeys; monotheism and the supernatural world; Torah and Law; magic, exorcism and healing; death and afterlife; Temple and sacrifice; prophecy and banditry; and ethnicity and social interaction. Read More…

Level Two

AAP218 Archaeology of the Greco-Roman World

This module traces the development of the Classical world in the Mediterranean, the Near East and Europe, from the establishment of the early city states through to the transformation of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity.  Themes covered will include: processes leading to urbanisation and the accompanying transformation of the rural landscape; technology, production and trade; the organisation of warfare and conquest; the archaeologies of identity, social display and political unification; and the archaeologies of empire and colonialism. Throughout these themes, the place of the Classical world within a larger global perspective will be maintained. Read More…

HST294: Rome and its Empire (14-235AD) (Dr. Julia Hillner)

As one of the most enduring among past empires, Rome has cast a long shadow. British colonial forces, the architects of American independence, and Italian Fascists have all looked to Rome for historical lessons and inspiration. Yet, what was life really like in an empire that grew from a small city-state in central Italy to stretch from Hadrian’s Wall and along the deserts of North Africa all the way to the Euphrates? How ‘Roman’ did the inhabitants of the empire become and did it matter? This module provides an introduction to the themes, sources and methods involved in studying the Roman empire at the height of its power, between the consolidation of a monarchical style of government at the death of Augustus and the beginning of this government’s ‘crisis’ in the third century. Read More…

PHI217: Plato (Dr. James Lenman)

The Philosopher and Mathematician A N Whitehead once characterized western thought as a “series of footnotes to Plato”. The thought of Plato and his teacher Socrates, who both lived in Greece around 400 years before the start of the Christian era, set the agenda for much subsequent philosophy and did much to define our ideas of what philosophy is. This course will introduce students to the study of the philosophy of Plato through a close and critical study of some of the most important dialogues in English translation. Read More…

PHI223: Topics in Ancient Philosophy (Socrates) (Dr. Stephen Makin)

Socrates has come to represent the ideal of a life devoted to philosophy. He engaged in searching discussion with his contemporaries. He was prosecuted for impiety, condemned to death, and accepted his sentence willingly. The main (but not the only) source for our knowledge of Socrates is Plato. This module examines the picture of Socrates that Socrates presents in some of his earlier dialogues. Read More…

Level Three

AAP324 Rome: Capital, Hinterland and Periphery

This unit provides the student with a detailed knowledge of the archaeology of the Roman Empire, from the city of Rome to settlements in Italy and other regions of Europe.  The module embeds Rome in its later prehistoric Italian and Mediterranean context and traces the creation and development of the city of Rome as a cosmopolis. It also explores the transformation of towns in Italy, the Mediterranean and Europe in emulation of Rome.  The module investigates and discusses the profound changes in society from Republic to Empire, the political and economic culture of Empire, and the visual and material expression of imperial ideology.  The dialogue between the living and the dead and its cultural and social implications for Roman Europe will also be examined. Read More…

AAP377 Athens, Empire and the Classical Greek World

This unit provides the student with a detailed knowledge of the archaeology of Athens during the Classical period (479-323 BC) and an active appreciation of this city-state’s role in the Greek world. The module introduces the topography of Athens and investigates the ways in which Athenian democracy and empire were experienced in the city and in other city-states. It explores and discusses archaeological models of democracy and empire and the ways in which Classical Athens fulfils expectations. The legacy of Athens in the Hellenistic and Roman periods as well as in the early modern and modern world are also examined and related to concepts of cultural identity. This module incorporates a variety of opportunities for shared and research-based learning, including in-class problem-based activities and presentations. Read More…

PHI340: Aristotle (Dr. Stephen Makin)

This module will examine some major themes in Aristotle’s metaphysics. There will be an introduction to, and sustained discussion of, such central Aristotelian notions as form, matter, cause, nature, substance, actuality and potentiality. Read More…

PHI366: Plato’s Symposium (Dr. Angela Hobbs)

The Symposium is a vivid, funny and moving dramatic dialogue in which a wide variety of characters – orators, doctor, comic poet, tragic poet, soldier-cum-statesman, philosopher and others give widely differing accounts of the nature of erotic love (eros) at a banquet.  Students should be willing to engage in close textual study, although no previous knowledge of either ancient philosophy or ancient Greek is required.  We will be exploring the origins, definition, aims, objects and effects of eros, and asking whether it is viewed as a predominantly beneficial or harmful force.  Are some manifestations of eros better than others?  Is re-channelling either possible or desirable, and if so, how and in what contexts?  What happens to eros if it is consummated? Read More…

Postgraduate

AAP6068 Greeks, Romans and ‘Others’ in the Ancient World

Investigates European societies from the beginning of Greek colonisation in the 8th century BC through the rise and fall of the Roman empire, drawing on material from the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and central and northern Europe, and looks at the ways in which these societies were transformed. Read More…

AAP6074 Mediterranean Landscapes

This module, based on lectures and seminars, explores the interaction between human societies and physical landscapes in the Mediterranean region through time. It covers how we investigate change and continuity in physical and cultural landscapes, how Mediterranean landscapes have been exploited and understood in various different ways by humans throughout history and how the particular forms of Mediterranean landscapes that exist today have come into being. Read More…

HST6033: Crime and Punishment in Late Antiquity (Dr. Julia Hillner)

This module will examine the complex late antique developments concerning the definition of crime and practices of punishment by analyzing a range of sources, including secular and ecclesiastical law, papyri, historiography, educational literature, sermons and monastic rules. It will investigate topics such as the relationship between Christianity and imperial law; new types of crime concerning sexual behavior and religious identity; the relationship between legal norms and court practice; the rise of episcopal jurisdiction; and the beginning of a concept of punishment as reform. Read More…

HST6842: The Transformation of the Roman World (Dr. Simon Loseby)

In around AD350 a vast area stretching from northern Britain to the Arabian desert lay under the authority of the Roman empire. The ensuing centuries saw the fragmentation of this uniquely powerful political entity into smaller units. Traditional perceptions of this period as one of `decline and fall´ have recently been challenged by a new emphasis on the progressive political, religious, cultural and economic transformation of the Roman world. This module explores the lively debates about the nature of the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, and the factors which influenced the different development of the various states which eventually succeeded the Roman empire. Read More…

PHI6355: Plato’s Symposium (Dr. Angela Hobbs)

The Symposium is a vivid, funny and moving dramatic dialogue in which a wide variety of characters – orators, doctor, comic poet, tragic poet, soldier-cum-statesman, philosopher and others – give widely differing accounts of the nature of erotic love (erôs) at a banquet. Students should be willing to engage in close textual study, although no previous knowledge of either ancient philosophy or ancient Greek is required. We will be exploring the origins, definition, aims, objects and effects of erôs, and asking whether it is viewed as a predominantly beneficial or harmful force. Are some manifestations of erôs better than others? Is re-channelling either possible or desirable, and if so, how and in what contexts? What happens to erôs if it is consummated? Read More…

PHI6710: Aristotle (Dr. Stephen Makin)

This module will examine some major themes in Aristotle’s metaphysics. There will be an introduction to, and sustained discussion of, such central Aristotelian notions as form, matter, cause, nature, substance, actuality and potentiality. Read More…

Languages

REL6011: Biblical Hebrew

You will be introduced to the basic vocabulary, grammar and syntax of the Hebrew language and you will build on this so that you can begin reading biblical texts in the original language. By the end of the module, you will be able to approach the Hebrew Bible in its original language with some confidence and will be familiar with the language resources you will need for the rest of your degree. Read More…

BIB 6095: Selected Old Testament Texts in Context

Students who have reached an appropriate level of competence in Hebrew will be introduced to readings from the Hebrew bible, which will enable them to enhance their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary and also to tackle the problems of producing a coherent translation of a biblical text. The choice of text will reflect the research interests of the tutor.. Read More…

REL6012: New Testament Greek

This module will introduce you to Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary so that you will be able to read the New Testament in the original language. You will also be introduced to essential tools and resources for reading the Greek New Testament. Read More…

MLT116A/B: Latin Beginners

For students with no previous knowledge of the language. Read More…

MLT2116/2117: Latin Post-Beginners

The module continues with the study of the language and elements of the culture and literature of ancient Rome, covered in the beginners 1 course. Students will deepen their awareness of the workings of grammar and syntax, and develop the ability to manipulate the language fluently. Read More…