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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS3790 Greek Tragedy

20 creditsClass Size: 22

Module manager: Prof. Malcolm Heath

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is mutually exclusive with

CLAS2790Greek 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:
- discuss, orally and in writing, major themes in these play, and aspects of their dramatic technique
- relate the plays to their literary, social and cultural contexts
- critically evaluate secondary sources relating to Greek tragedy
- give explanatory comment on passages from representative plays of Greek tragedies

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 each other and their historical and cultural context, an understanding of modern scholarly approaches to the interpretation of Greek tragedy, and an ability to engage critically with relevant scholarly literature.
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.

Skills outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students should be able to provide informed textual commentary on passages from the prescribed Greek tragedies, and discuss key aspects of the literary, dramatic and cultural aspects of the texts in discursive form.


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

Seminar participation. Feedback on assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2200 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
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

n/a [was previously paired with CLAS3791, which no longer exists]

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 19/10/2018


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