Greek MA

The Invention of History: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon CLASSIC4056

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

Short Description

Through a reading of the three earliest works of historiography in Western culture (Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon) this course investigates the motivations, preoccupations, ambitions, and techniques driving the invention of History, as discipline and as narrative form.


Two hours 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



Examination (90 minutes duration) - 40%

Essay (2,500 words) - 40%

Oral presentation - 20%

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 will provide the opportunity to:

■ Study in depth the three Classical Greek authors who invented the discipline of History and the genre of historiography: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.

■ Become familiar with the main scholarship on these three authors and on Classical Greek historiography generally.

■ Engage with different concepts of history and the recording of the past, ancient and modern.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Relate the texts to their historical and intellectual context.

■ Summarize and engage critically with the main scholarly debates about the three texts and about Classical Greek historiography more generally.

■ Summarize and engage critically with selected ancient and modern theories of history and the recording of the past.

■ Interpret each of the three works both on its own and as part of a tradition.

■ Formulate your own analysis of each of the three texts and argue it coherently and persuasively both orally and in writing.

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.