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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS2790 Greek Tragedy

20 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Professor Malcolm Heath

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is mutually exclusive with

CLAS3790Greek Tragedy

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module focuses four Greek tragedies: Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes, and Euripides’ Medea and Heracles. The plays will be read in English translation. In the course of the module we will consider: - themes and issues shared by the four plays - making sense of texts composed in a culture different from our own- issues of staging, performance, structure and dramatic technique- how the dramatists innovated in their use of traditional stories


On completion of this module, students should be able to ...This module aims to introduce students to the genre of Greek tragedy through a detailed study of four representative plays, encompassing close reading and focus on techniques and major themes, as well as the relationship between the set plays and their literary, social, and cultural contexts.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should have gained:
- an understanding of four representative Greek tragedies, and of a Greek tragedy as a dramatic and literary genre;
- an understanding of the relationship between the four plays and historical, social and cultural contexts;
- an understanding of issues and problems involved in the interpretation of Greek tragedy.
They will be able to demonstrate a range of subject-specific skills, including an ability to interpret primary texts in relation to their historical and cultural context, and familiarity with modern scholarly approaches to the interpretation of Greek tragedy.
They will also be able to demonstrate a range of transferable skills, including the exercise of independent critical judgement, written communication, participation in oral discussion, and the organisation of personal study.


This module will study four tragedies by Sophocles (Ajax, Philoctetes) and Euripides (Medea, Heracles) in English translation. The introductory lectures will highlight important themes and issues in the four plays; outline their transmission and reception; and discuss some of the problems of interpretation posed by texts composed in a culture different from our own. In the subsequent lectures and seminars the plays themselves will be studied with a view to: performance and staging; dramatic technique and structure; innovations in the stories dramatised; religious and ethical issues.
The recommended translations are: Sophocles: Electra and Other Plays, tr. D. Raeburn (Penguin 2008); Euripides: Heracles and Other Plays, tr. R. Waterfield (Oxford World’s Classics 2003); Euripides: Medea and Other Plays, tr. J. Morwood (Oxford World’s Classics 1998).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours177.00
Total Contact hours23.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading primary texts: 4 x 20 hours
Lecture preparation: 18 x 1 hours
Seminar preparation: 5 x 3 hours
Essay: 45 hours
Exam preparation: 42 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through attendance and participation in lectures, seminar contributions and through a detailed module questionnaire.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1800 words40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Exam with advance information on questions2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

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: 28/06/2018


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