The New Classical Studies programme
By Elliot Luke, Level 1 Undergraduate
Classical Studies at Lincoln is a new degree programme run by the School of History and Heritage and caters for those with a passion for the ancient world. This blog is intended to show prospective Classical Studies students what actually happens here at Lincoln from a student’s perspective.
We have just finished the first semester of the year and as such we have undertaken four modules: ‘Critical Thinking and Writing’, ‘Classical Art and Archaeology’, ‘The Greek World’, and ‘Elementary Latin: Part I’.
‘Critical Thinking and Writing’ is a core skills module through which students are taught how to think, read, and convey information like scholars. The module is also aimed at Historians and Art Historians and therefore the material covers different topics and time periods, including two weeks on Aristotle and ancient approaches to argument and debate.
‘Classical Art and Archaeology’ focuses on the visual and material culture of the Classical World and covers the early Minoan civilisations and their ritualistic art right through to the late Antique mosaics of Ravenna. This module provided a great introduction to a wide array of artistic styles and archaeological material culture; it has been very enjoyable learning about new topics each week with Dr Lacey Wallace whose passion for this subject is infectious.
‘The Greek World’ is another survey module, and one I was frankly worried about before the year began. Greek history was not something I had ever studied before, however, I was put at ease by the lecturer, Dr Cosetta Cadau, who did a brilliant job of introducing us to this fascinating topic. The module was also terrific fun (see the photo below from the week when we discussed the Hoplite Phalanx) and it has given me a great grounding in Greek history for when we return to this subject in the future.
The teaching on ‘Elementary Latin: Part I’ with Dr Graham Barrett was excellent and really helped me get to grips with a new language – a prospect I was anxious about before beginning the course. We worked from the Wheelock’s Latin textbook and covered roughly a chapter and a half per week meaning that the class moved at a comfortable speed. The module was enjoyable, challenging, and interesting and is certainly not something which should be off-putting to a prospective student.
Over the first semester, we have had 8 assignments. Whilst this may seem like a lot to a prospective student (I know it did for me initially!) it actually provides a great opportunity to research a wide array of topics and also a chance to experience different types of studying. Latin utilises an in-class exam format for a mid-term and a final paper, whereas the other modules use a variety of different assessments to give you the best foundation on which to build in the future. Most modules conclude with a research paper which allows you to really get stuck into a topic of your choice and write an extended piece of writing. As well as this, most modules have a source analysis, or similar form of skills-based assessment with a shorter word count, which focuses heavily on technical ability and applying new skills, rather than individual thought and theory. Overall, and whilst this may sound a bit weird to a prospective student, assignments are fun! You often get to choose your questions or sources and develop your personal interests further with the support of incredibly helpful and insightful academic staff.
With this being the first year that the course has run, the class sizes have been quite small, but this has enabled lots of one-on-one time with lecturers and has increased the feeling of camaraderie within the cohort as a whole. This creates an environment which is incredibly friendly for students and staff alike.
It is hard to pick a high point from the first semester as a lot of great things have happened. We have had a lot of fun so far and this is only going to continue, from recreating a Hoplite Phalanx to trying to restage one of the mosaics from Ravenna (see below), and everything in between. The year thus far has been one of the best experiences of my life: learning about new, fascinating topics and getting to try out new things are what university life is all about, and this will help set us up for our professional lives beyond the classroom.