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2013/14 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS3650 The Image of Sparta

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Emma Stafford

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2013/14

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module is suitable for Level 2 or 3 students with some basic knowledge of the ancient Greek world. Rather than attempting to provide a straightforward history of Sparta, it looks at ways in which ancient writers presented Sparta: as the ideal egalitarian state, its harsh education system and austere life producing an army of unsurpassed bravery, and women who sent their sons to battle with instructions to return either with their shield or on it. The module concludes with some consideration of the re-working of this image in modern media such as the film 300. The module is worth 20 credits and runs over both semesters, with one lecture per week and a total of four seminars. For further information contact the Department of Classics (email:; website:; telephone: 0113 343 6786).


Students completing the module should have a good general knowledge of ancient literature relating to Sparta, and of the various methodological approaches employed in its study. Through participation in seminar discussions and preparation of the essay students will develop their skills in critical analysis and communication.


This module looks at the enduring myth of Spartan austerity and military prowess, as developed by a variety of non-Spartan writers from the fifth century BC to the second century AD. Works to be studied include Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Xenophon's Spartan Society, Plutarch's lives of the great Spartan leaders Lycurgus, Agis and Cleomenes, and the Spartan Sayings; reference will also be made to the place of Sparta in the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, and in Plato's and Aristotle's discussions concerning the ideal state. Students will be encouraged to criticise the texts from a historical as well as a literary point of view, to which end factors will be considered which tend to undermine the image of Spartan austerity and egalitarianism, including material evidence from Sparta itself and its territory.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours176.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Informal monitoring of progress will be based on participation in seminar discussion. The short assignment will also provide an opportunity for feedback halfway through the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayBetween 2000-2500 words60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 30 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2014


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