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Classical Greece: Art, Life, Death and Politics

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From the Parthenon in Athens to the sanctuary of the sacred oracle at Delphi, the cities of Vergina and Olynthos, and the religious centres at Delos and Olympia, the archaeological remains from Classical Greece in the 5th and 4th century BC exert an enduring fascination.

We will examine the art of this period, including finds such as sculpture, architecture, painted pottery, and wall painting.

We will consider the artistic developments of Classical Greece in their social, political and historical contexts.

In so doing we will explore topics such as gender, the household, everyday life in cities like ancient Athens, landscape and the countryside, sanctuaries and religious practice, and what the study of burial reveals about society.

Above all, we will learn of the values, customs and conventions of Classical Greece, highlighting the powerful connections between artistic endeavor and wider culture.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught online, through ten sessions incorporating recorded lectures and online seminars and workshops involving class discussion and group work on specific topics relating to the module. The discussion and group work will enable students to think critically and to contribute to the debates and topics presented during the lectures. The discussion-led sessions and the lectures will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.


  • Introduction: What is Classical Archaeology?
  • Classical Architecture.
  • Classical Painting and Pottery.
  • Polis and Sanctuaries.
  • Classical Sculpture and Sculptors.
  • The Periclean Building Programme, the Parthenon and its Sculptures.
  • Burials, Society and Iconography.
  • Classical Houses: Domestic Space and Gender.
  • The Countryside: Rural Settlement in Attica and Beyond.
  • The Greeks in the West.

Coursework and assessment

You will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • a short critical review
  • a 1000-word essay.

Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • M.D. Fullerton, Greek Art (Cambridge, 2000).
  • R. Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford, 1998).
  • J.G. Pedley, Greek Art and Archaeology (London, 1993).
  • C.M. Robertson, A Shorter History of Greek Art (Cambridge, 1981).
  • J. Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 2001).

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.