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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS2900 Ancient Empires: Power and Control

20 creditsClass Size: 72

Module manager: Dr Roger Brock

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Prior study of ancient history, through CLAS 1300 and/or 1400 (typically) or equivalent experience

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides an overview of the hegemonic and imperial regimes of the classical world, covering Greece, Rome and Persia, and focussing particularly on the hegemonic leagues of Sparta and Athens, the Achaemenid empire and the rise of Rome as an imperial power. Topics covered will include the growth and development of these regimes and the underlying reasons in each case, the diverse range of administrative structures and mechanisms of control which they employed and the reasons for their success and, in each case, eventual failure.


On completion of this module, students should be able to reflect on the diversity of ways in which imperial powers came into being and of the various underlying causes and motivations, the range of administrative systems and mechanisms of control which they employed, and the reasons for success and failure in each case.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students will be familiar with the hegemonic and imperial regimes which exercised power in classical antiquity, in particular Sparta, Athens, Achaemenid Persia and Rome, and the wider developmental context of their rise, heyday and fall, and with the range of administrative structures and mechanisms of control which they employed.

Skills outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students are expected to be able to:
- understand and articulate the nature of ancient empires, the circumstances in which they developed or broke apart and the range of power structures which underpinned them, and think critically about them in comparative terms
- identify and critically analyse the major primary sources normally used in the study of ancient empires
- critically engage with the major secondary literature on the subject


Topics covered may include: early political organisation in the Mediterranean world; Sparta and the Peloponnesian League; the ‘Athenian empire’; Persia under the Achaemenids; Alexander the Great; the world of the Hellenistic monarchs; the Roman Republic; the Roman empire.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Writing up/consolidating lectures 16x1 = 16 Hours
Seminar preparation 4x2 = 8 Hours
Wider private reading/research = 86 Hours
Researching and writing coursework = 35 Hours
Comparative essay preparation = 35 Hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored formally through the coursework assignments and informally and more regularly by participation in classes.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words40.00
Essay2,500 words comparative essay60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The first coursework essay (40%) will require students to discuss in detail one of the individual empires covered in the module. The final, longer comparative essay (60%) will then require students to think critically about a range of empires from across the module in comparative terms. 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: 05/10/2022


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