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Unit information: The Hellenistic World in 2018/19

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Unit name The Hellenistic World
Unit code CLAS22382
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Knippschild
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit explores political and social developments in the Mediterranean world in the Hellenistic Era. This period is important for understanding the dissemination of Greek culture around the Mediterranean and its transmission through the growth of the new empires. It will cover the rise of the Macedonian Empire, the conquest of Western Asia, and the Successors to Alexander. The unit focuses on intercultural contacts between the Greeks and the different ethnic groups of Western Asia, mutual influences, clashes of culture and the diverse ways of dealing with them, as well as some of the mental pictures and perceptions of the other originating in this period that are operative to this day.

This unit aims to present students:

  • with a general knowledge of the period from Alexander the Great to the rise of Rome, and of the key events and changes of this period;
  • with a detailed knowledge of one aspect within this period and the central themes arising from this aspect;
  • with a developed knowledge of the sources for this period and the issues involved in interpreting these sources.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  • Have a good knowledge of the varied sources available for studying the Hellenistic world, as well as an advanced understanding of the best way to make use of these sources.
  • Have developed a good knowledge of the political and social developments in the Hellenistic world and an advanced understanding of how to analyse these.
  • Be able to use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own researches to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject, displaying full understanding of academic conventions.
  • Have had an opportunity to further develop their skills in oral and written communication, in small groups and general discussion, and in an essay and a written exam.

Teaching details

Lectures and Seminars.

Assessment Details

  • 1 essay of c. 2,500 words (50%)
  • 1 90 minute exam consisting of 2 essays from a choice of 8 (50%).

Reading and References

  • A. B. Bosworth, Conquest and Empire, The Reign of Alexander the Great (1988).
  • A. Erskine (ed.), A Companion to the Hellenistic World, Part I chapters 2-6

(2003) 19-102.

  • A. Kuhrt, ‘Alexander in Babylon’, in: H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, J. W. Drijvers (eds.), Achaemenid History V: The Roots of the European Traditions (1990) 121-130.
  • G. Shipley, The Greek World after Alexander (2000).
  • I. Worthington, Alexander the Great: a reader (2003).
  • M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest, A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation (2006)