Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code CLAH851
Coordinator Dr ZH Archibald
Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 15

Pre-requisites before taking this module (other modules and/or general educational/academic requirements):


Programme(s) (including Year of Study) to which this module is available on a required basis:


Programme(s) (including Year of Study) to which this module is available on an optional basis:


Additional Programme Information



To interrogate the conceptual distinction between truth and lies and the ways ancient historians, politicians, poets, authors and common people used ‘facts’ and ‘fictions’ to reflect on their experiences and the world they inhabited;

To investigate how truth and lies intersects within texts that are crucial to our understanding of the ancient world, grappling with a range of documentary and literary material and exploring the diverse social and political contexts in which they were written and read;

To examine how modern engagements with the Classical world navigate the line between ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ and to reflect on how understanding the ancient world can help us navigate the modern phenomena of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) To recognize how truth and lies are mediated by writers of ancient texts to represent and interrogate the past and present, real or imagined

(LO2) To become familiar with and critically evaluate a diverse range of written material from Classical antiquity, including (for example) monumental inscriptions, historiography, biography, the novel, religious treatises, and epic poetry, in all their complexity and contexts

(LO3) To engage with specialist scholarship on the history and literature of Classical antiquity and deploy it to build advanced in-depth knowledge and understanding of the intersection between truth and lies in ancient politics and society

(LO4) To be able to formulate a research question, present key ideas and themes in oral presentation, and respond to feedback; and to undertake independent research and communicate the results in writing

(S1) Critical thinking: advanced evaluation and reasoning in the analysis and deployment of data and specialist scholarship to develop logical and sophisticated arguments

(S2) Communication: adopting appropriate strategies and language for the presentation of complex ideas in verbal and written forms for different audiences and purposes

(S3) Research: the identification of sources and resources, the collection and manipulation of data, and the presentation of results, with the aid of information and communications technologies

(S4) Independence: self-direction and autonomy in the conception, implementation, pursuit and completion of tasks at a professional level

(S5) Sensitivity to diversity: understanding of and respect for different intellectual positions and other cultures, based on awareness of complexity and sensitivity to context

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Students prepare for each seminar by reading relevant ancient texts and a wide selection of recommended scholarship, and they actively contribute to classroom discussion.
9 x 1 hour seminars (1 x 1 hour introduction; 8 x 1 hour topic-based sessions).
Unscheduled directed student hours (time spent away from the timetabled sessions but directed by the teaching staff): 81

Essay workshop:
The workshop provides students with a venue to present questions, ancient material, and modern theories relating to their chosen essay topic and to receive peer feedback on their progress so far.
Students prepare a 10 minute presentation detailing their proposed essay question, the key areas for investigation and evidence, along with any methodological or interpretative problems, the results of their research so far.
Unscheduled directed student hours (time spent away from the timetabled sessions but directed by the teaching staff): 9



Topics may be drawn from the following, depending on staff availability:

The ‘Lie’ in Achaemenid texts and Near Eastern traditions;

The trouble with monuments;

Writing ‘history’;

Royal reputations: Documents and biographies of Hellenistic kings;

Political sabotage: Antony and Cleopatra in Augustan propaganda;

Treason and sacrilege, maiestas and impietas;

Battle narratives: victory and failure;

Rumour and gossip in Roman politics;

‘What we Romans did for them’: Rome and the provinces;

Doctrinal disputes in Late Antiquity;

The idea of fiction;

Realism in poetry and art;

Invented authors, real texts;

Fake inscriptions in literature and religion;

Fabricating antiquity: ‘Classical’ forgeries;

Authenticity versus reality: The ancient world on film.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours   9




Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 50


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Essay There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalties will apply. This is not an anonymous assessment.  -5000 words    100       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.