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Unit information: Sculpture in 2018/19

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Unit name Sculpture
Unit code CLAS10037
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Knippschild
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Classical sculpture is often hailed as the cornerstone of ‘western’ art. But it was not simply beautiful adornment. In a largely illiterate society, successful participation in religious, political and social life relied on the ability to interpret visual information. Sculpture told mythic narratives and community history; commemorated victories and deceased relatives; praised individuals, whether kings or athletes; and provided access to the divine. In this unit, we will learn how to identify the different forms and styles of ancient sculpture and interpret its meanings and themes but more importantly we will discover the roles it played in society. How did ancient audiences engage with the sculpture around them? We will also explore the ways in which that sculpture has been displayed, recontextualised and re-interpreted since antiquity and consider how the aesthetic importance we have placed on it has affected our understanding. How might we most effectively engage with this material?


  • To enable students to recognise the major forms and styles of ancient sculpture, and the contexts in which they were viewed.
  • To equip students both with the practical skills of 'reading' an image and an understanding of how our own ‘readings’ may differ from those of the original audience.
  • To explore the ways in which sculpture reflected and affected ancient communities’ perception of themselves and the roles which sculpture played in ancient society.
  • To develop students’ skills to use the knowledge acquired in class and through their own reading to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on the built environment.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of sculpture in the ancient world; its uses and contexts and an awareness of how post-antique practices of interpretation and display have affected the way in which we have ‘created’ that knowledge;
  2. recognise and analyse critically the major artistic styles of ancient sculpture;
  3. use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own researches to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject;
  4. demonstrate skills in oral and written communication, in small groups and general discussion in the classes, and in a written project report and an exam, at a standard appropriate to level C.

Teaching details

1 x 2hr lecture and 1 x 2hr workshop

Assessment Details

1 x 2500 word project report (70%);

1 x 60-minute exam (30%) [both assess ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

M. Beard & J. Henderson, Classical Art. From Greece to Rome (Oxford) 2001

R.T. Neer, Art & Archaeology of the Greek World (London) 2012

R. Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford) 1998

J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age (Cambridge) 1990

T.J. Smith & D. Plantzos eds, A Companion to Greek Art (Oxford) 2012