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Study information

Art in Greek Society

Module titleArt in Greek Society
Module codeCLA3113
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Lennart Kruijer (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Greek art has been much admired in modern days, but it also was an essential part of ancient social life, religion, and politics. The Greeks were well aware of the impact that the visual had on its viewers, and used it to honour the gods, promote themselves, and express individual and collective identities. This module will look at a range of different forms of art (including sculpture, vase painting, and architecture), and a range of different contexts in which art was used and displayed. We shall discuss what art meant to the ancient Greeks, and how it can help the modern historian to better understand Greek ideologies and value systems. We shall engage with different methodologies and approaches suitable to achieve these aims.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims are:

  • To examine various genres of Greek art and their physical, social and ideological contexts. What does art tell us about the societies who made and viewed it?
  • To explore questions such as: What was the purpose of art? How was it evaluated by the people of antiquity?
  • To encourage critical thinking about studying art as a tool for understanding ancient cultural ideologies and about the use of visual images in our modern world.
  • To introduce you to methodologies of interpreting visual culture, and to a range of different approaches and scholarly debates.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of a wide selection of relevant visual material from the Greek world
  • 2. Discuss and analyse visual sources from the Greek world in relation to their social context
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of how visual culture adds elements to our understanding of Greek culture and society that extend beyond what literary sources tell us – or that even challenges them.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate sophisticated critical skills in analysing art and other visual material, which can be applied to a wide range of ancient and modern culturesartistic production
  • 5. Demonstrate your understanding of how material culture enhances our understanding of (past) societies

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Demonstrate independent research skills
  • 7. Show a broader awareness of issues involved in thinking about art and society
  • 8. Demonstrate skills in the construction, organisation and presentation of an argument in both written and oral form, and in using PowerPoint presentations to visually support your arguments where appropriate

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Why should Historians study ‘Art’?
  • How to analyse an image
  • Art and the Greek Polis
  • Art and death
  • Art and gender
  • The Greeks and the ‘Other(s)’
  • Art and text
  • Contemporary reception and politics of Greek Art. 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study128Private study and preparation for seminars

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group discussion Continuous1-8Oral feedback from lecturer and peers
Online forum commentsWeekly contribution1-8Oral feedback from lecturer and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class presentation with PowerPoint and handout2010 minutes1-8Oral feedback
Essay502,000 words1-8Written feedback
Gobbet test301,000 words1-5, 7-8Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Class presentation with PowerPoint and handoutPowerPoint presentation and handout1-8Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay (2,000 words)1-8Referral/Deferral period
Gobbet testGobbet test (1,000 words)1-5, 7-8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative reading:

  • Barringer, J.: The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece (Cambridge 2015).
  • Camp, J.M.: The archaeology of Athens (New Haven 2001).
  • Mattusch, C.C.: Greek sculpture (Oxford 2011).
  • Neer, R.T.: The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture (Chicago 2013).
  • Onians, J., Classical art and the cultures of Greece and Rome (New Haven, 1999).
  • Osborne, R.: The transformation of Athens: painted pottery and the creation of classical Greece (Princeton 2018).
  • Samons L.J. (ed.), The Cambridge companion to the age of Pericles (Cambridge 2007), esp. Ch. 5.
  • Shapiro, H.A. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece (New York 2007).
  • Smith, T.J.: Greek vase painting (Oxford 2019).
  • Smith, T.J. and Platzos, D. (eds), A companion to Greek art (Malden, MA 2012).
  • Sparks, B.A.: Greek Art (Cambridge 2011).
  • Spivey, N.: Greek sculpture (Cambridge 2013).
  • Stansbury-O’Donnell, M.D.: A history of Greek art (Malden, MA 2014).
  • Vout, C.: Exposed. The Greek and Roman Body (London 2022).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Classics, Greek history, Greek culture, Art

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date