Classics (Classical Civilisation) MA/MA(SocSci)

Ancient Technology in Context CLASSIC4071

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will explore the development of ancient science and technology and its interaction with ancient societies and the environment, focusing mainly on the Mediterranean area and the Near and Middle East. It takes a wide view of technology, ranging from the use of stone tools and fire by hominids through complex machines to the massive concrete domes and arched dams of the Romans, only bettered in modern times. The course will encompass material, textual and environmental evidence and approaches, and there will be the opportunity to develop specific skills in handling and interpreting material evidence for technology.


1x1 hr lecture; 1x1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Classics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Essay (3,000 words) - 50%

Worksheet (1,500 words) - 25%

Presentation ( 10 minutes) - 25% 

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course provides the opportunity to:

■ study the nature and extent of technology in the ancient world, from basic tools to sophisticated machines

■ relate ancient technologies to their historical, social and environmental contexts

■ explore models for the diffusion and development of ancient technology

■ compare the characteristics of technology in the ancient Mediterranean with those in other periods

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

■ identify the main features of ancient technology in areas such as agriculture, warfare, the economy, education and entertainment

■ recognise the constraints on the dynamics that connected humans, technology and the environment in the ancient Mediterranean

■ use textual, material and environmental evidence to relate technology to its social context

■ explain orally and in written form the relationship between ancient technical theory and practice

■ analyse orally and in written form the impact of technology on the ancient environment and vice-versa

■ evaluate and apply theoretical and comparative models for technological diffusion and change


Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.