GRC20270 The Athenian Empire

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module explores the rise and fall of the Athenian empire from its beginnings in the 470s to its defeat at the hands of Sparta in 404 BC, as well as Athenian attempts to recapture such pre-eminence in the early fourth century. It reflects on the nature of imperialism in antiquity, as well as how Athenian ascendancy shaped not only one of the most famous cities of antiquity, but also the wider Mediterranean world. Drawing on a wide range of material and literary culture from the period we will analyse how this ‘new’ way of exercising power was conceptualised and how later ancient writers judged Athenian dominance. We shall closely examine the works of Herodotus and Thucydides, Aristophanes and Euripides, philosphers and the Attic orators, as well as epigraphic material in order to debate the history of the empire and the problem of power and imperialism in ancient Greek thought.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

• Students will gain a deeper understanding of the political and social history of Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries BC.
• Students will be able to analyse a variety of forms of ancient evidence, including: literary, numismatic, and epigraphic sources, as well as fifth-century Athenian art, architecture, and iconography.
• Students will gain an understanding of the key debates in the study of ancient imperialism and empire with particular emphasis on fifth- and fourth-century Athens.
• Through engagement with complex texts and trans-cultural traditions students will develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
• Students will hone their ability to communicate their ideas and argument through oral and written presentations.
• Students will develop their ability to manage deadlines and balance conflicting demands.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Weekly lectures will be recorded and made accessible through Brightspace, where they can be streamed or downloaded to be watched. A .pdf version of the slides also will be uploaded to assist in note taking. The lectures aim to over an overview of the history of the period and will discuss key sources and problems for the study of ancient imperialism and of Athenian hegemony in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Students can watch these lectures in their own time. During the timetabled slot for the lecture the module coordinator will be available for Q + A and general discussion over Zoom. In this session we can discuss any issues that arise in the lecture/key reading, as well as student concerns about. or reactions to, the material. Along with the recorded lecture, students will be asked to complete quizzes on Brightspace that relate to the key reading and recorded material. These quizzes are assessed and contribute towards your continuous assessment grade. The remainder of the assessment consists of a podcast which you can do on your own or with a partner from the class, as well as an end-of-trimester essay. You can choose the topics for your essay from a list provided, or choose your own adventure and agree a topic with the module coordinator. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Podcast: students will record a short podcast. In the event that you do not have a mobile phone or other means of recording, an alternate assessment will be agreed. Week 11 n/a Graded No


Essay: Students will write an end-of-trimester essay based on a topic chosen from a list provided, or agree an alternate title with the module coordinator. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Students will complete online quizzes tied to the material covered in the lectures and essential reading. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive feedback on their podcast and their essay from the module coordinator. Online quizzes will receive automated feedback.