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Student and tutor module reviews

Exploring the classical world

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A219
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

A219 is a great course for anyone who wants to get an overview of the classical world. It cannot cover everything, but the four blocks certainly pack a lot in about ancient Greece and Rome. The first two blocks on Greece were my favourites, as I had taken this course specifically to study Homer and the Athenian plays 'Lysistrata' and 'Persians'. However, I did also enjoy the Roman section, especially the social history block. The political history block was the least interesting for me, but others enjoyed it. Whatever your field of interest, there will be something for you.

The TMAs were demanding, as they should be, but I found that they were in themselves a huge source of potential for learning. The course materials were excellent and inspiring.

The amount of learning required for the exam can be daunting. It is advisable to revise three blocks to give yourself the best chance, and there is no pre-publication of topics as in other courses I have done. I would recommend starting early with this and making decent notes throughout the course. Try to recognise themes and links between topics as you go along- I found this key to answering the exam questions.

Overall this was a very good course which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

Wow! Excellent course for an introduction to the classics. Puts some foundations under our Western Civilisation. As your interest develops, you find each section a fascinating time travel back to Ancient Greece and Rome.

Perhaps the thing that puts people off is the exam at the end of the course but actually I found it a real revision tool for consolidating all that you've taken in during the year. The exam was not as bad as you think it will be if you've done a decent amount of revision.

At the end of the course you will feel like a great door has been opened to the world of the Classics and the beginning of a great journey of exploration. Dive in!

Nicholas Wright

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

A219 is an enjoyable course. It is certainly challenging at times, particularly as the level of content ramps up towards the end, and with the revision required for the exam, but the variety of content is good and the tone is interesting. I would gladly take this course again!

Heather Cook

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: March 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this module, which was significantly aided by having an excellent tutor. I could not have got the grade I did without her.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: October 2014

I really enjoyed this course. It encompasses the Homeric World, Classical Athens, the rise and fall of the Roman Republic, and Roman society in the first century AD. Clearly a lot is missed out from a historical perspective, notably Alexander the Great; and I felt that parts for example the competition between Julius Caesar and Pompey was a little sketchy. However as an introduction to Classical Studies at University level it is pretty good.

Additionally we had an extremely diligent and hard working tutor, which meant that tutorials were not to be missed. There has been a suggestion that the course might be passed by simply concentrating on the Greek part. This is not a good idea: certainly the block on the Roman Republic is dense, but it is not inpenetrable.

I used block 4 to write the final TMA, while for the exam revised the first three blocks throughly but keeping in mind the writers that appear in block 4. The exam more or less supported this approach: the essays divided into one 'plumb' and one 'stinker' for the Greeks and Romans respectively; and the textual analyses followed suite.

The letter of Pliny's was a gift, but don't do what I did by concentrating too much on its circumstances and not what it says about Roman society. I wasn't disappointed by my result though.

Stephen James Bell

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

I loved this course! The material is incredibly interesting and my tutor was fantastic. There is a lot to study for this module and in particular the exam, so with hindsight, I would recommend making study/revision cards as you go along. The exam comes upon you very quickly.

My tutor was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. She not only knew this subject area in great detail, but was able to impart this information - not always the case with lecturers!

I recommend this course, but would recommend keeping on top of the material as you go along as there is a lot to revise for the exam.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: December 2013

I really enjoyed this course. Where else can you really enjoy political incorrectness plus a bit of murder thrown in to the equation but in Classic's. This is probably the only OU course I have ever spoken about down the pub, the course helped me appreciate the link and interest we all have in the classical world. The course covers art, history, poetry and literature so a very large coverage. I have never read poetry before, and this course was a life changer for me in trying and really enjoying something I have never done before.

A note of caution in my tutor group there was a number who got very upset that they had done very well in other humanity courses and were now getting very bad marks in their A219 TMA. I did very well but I do think there remains a small bit of elitism within the OU Classical team and they set harder exams and harder TMAs than other similar subjects. So prepare to work hard for each mark.

In summary if you want to try something new and not have the guys fall asleep in the pub when you tell them about your last TMA take A219 plus poetry is not just for girls!

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

Faculty response

The course team is delighted that you enjoyed A219 and we agree that Classical Studies provides a wealth of opportunities for enlivening discussions in the pub or indeed anywhere else!

We wouldn't describe this module as 'elitist', although we intend it to be 'challenging'; acquiring the combination of literary, historical, visual and archaeological skills needed to succeed in the assessment should stretch students in a satisfying way.

You'll be interested to learn that, when we compare the marks achieved by students with other OU level 2 modules, there isn't any evidence that our TMAs are more difficult. We hope you have as much fun with your next module.

I really loved this course. I think I was annoying to be around when reading the materials as I started every sentence to my husband with 'Wow! Did you know that....?'

If you've always wanted some time to dip into the Classics but didn't know where to begin, this course is for you. I was inspired to go to the British Museum and see for myself a lot of the fascinating objects pictured in the course materials.

The course may have ended, but my interest in the subject matter has only just begun.

In a lot of the other reviews you may read that you really should ensure you study more than 2 blocks for the exam. BELIEVE THIS!! You are backing yourself into an unnecessary corner by doing minimal revision. If you take decent notes throughout the course (i.e. a page of bullet points for each chapter in a block) then revising a third block is not a big deal and will pay off in the exam!

Faith Studd

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I am in two minds concerning this course. I found the contents very good, and thought that I understood the material quite well. However, my TMA scores were unsatisfactory, and my attempts to take note of the tutor's comments did not lead to any improvement, and I just scraped a pass in the examination. There was clearly a gulf between my understanding and what was expected, but I was not able to bridge this gap. Judging by the statistics of the examination results, it is very difficult to gain grades 1 and 2, which suggests to me that there is something wrong with the course.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: June 2013

A good course which provides a broad introduction to the classics. I did feel that some areas assumed a level of background knowledge e.g. Block 3 didn't really provide a context - you were just launched into the Roman Republic - but like lots of other people I read Tom Holland's Rubicon to fill in the gaps! I was fortunate enough to have a really good tutor which made up for any inadequacies in the course.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: March 2013

The subject matter is engaging for anyone with an interest in the classics and you really come away feeling that you have learned something or expanded your current knowledge. There is enough variety in the items studied to keep you engaged; from art to theatre, history to religion and of course the dreaded politics.

The thing I would flag to any new student would be the sudden shift in content and matter between Greek culture covered in the first two modules and Rome. There is far too much you suddenly have to absorb in a very short space of time. The earlier modules of Greece gave enough time for you to gather your thoughts and revision notes in a logical and timely matter. But right from the start of the Roman modules I did feel thoroughly overwhelmed; even though I kept up with the suggested planner. I was quite surprised by this as I had started the course dreading the Greek modules and eagerly awaiting the Rome ones.

The Roman baths were fantastic to study and whilst watching a film the other week I was able to bore my husband with some 'interesting' facts!

Perhaps separating some of the larger items of Rome into a Level 3 course would be a more considered approach by the OU however? Especially as a large portion of the Roman sections are solely on the political aspects and influences and not on much else.

Overall a lovely course but planning your time before you hit Rome is a must!

Hayley Tucker

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: December 2012

I loved it even though I did not do brilliantly.

I knew nothing of the classical world before A219 (except from what I saw on the tv). It did not take long to get addicted. have to say that I spent far too much time chasing around subjects outside of the course. I could have probably done better if I stayed with the materials provided! So beware of this fact, it was so easy to get sidetracked with all the books and journals available out there. Other students suggestions are all tempting and good, but unless you have got loads of time to spend on other stuff, numerous lectures, and books from lots of people, just try and stay with what you have, as this is what you need to know for the exam. Although this is easier said than done, I could not help myself and had to buy everything suggested as i did not want to miss out(YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED) keep it all for reading through the summer after the exam!

I enjoyed all of the course, but found the greek blocks easier to digest and revise for the exam. The hardest part to revise was the politics in block 3, so I gave up when I realised it wasn't sticking.

Studying only the greek blocks in depth for the exam I found out was not such a good idea. sadly I had to guess 1 part of the first question in my answer, so do at least 3 blocks in depth.

If you have never studied classics before just follow the course materials then you cannot go wrong. Even though I felt at times I was behind and others knew so much more.
All you need is in the box, and this is what I will remember for my next course exam so that I do not waste valuable time studying things not needed (WARNED AGAIN)!

I will continue on with some more level 2 and await the new classics module at Level 3 in 2015.

a really enjoyable (addictive) course, with an enthusiastic tutor and I was also lucky enough to have great students alongside me for support via FB.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

This is a far-ranging course, both geographically and temporally, but I found it enjoyable though tough. I felt that it gave me a good grounding in various aspects of the Classical World.

I found it difficult to come to terms with what was required in answering the TMAs and the examination. Looking back, I think my problem was that my emphasis was on the facts rather than on their interpretation. Hence my tutor repeatedly criticized me for being merely descriptive.

In consequence my enjoyment if the course was marred by my inability to satisfy others in my answers. Since only 20% of candidates received A and B grades, I wonder if more credit should be given to accurate knowledge of the facts rather than on opinions.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

I really loved this course and feel it has given me a sound understanding of some of the key people and events in ancient Greece and Rome. The materials are excellent and they give you the foundations for wider reading on the subject.

The exam was challenging but fair. Beware of revising only two areas though; there is just one essay question for each section, so it is safer to prepare at least one spare.

Thoroughly recommended.

Sarah Ozanne

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

I realy enjoyed this course and would recommend it to others that have an interest in classics.

I was worried about the section on Rome but have got into the minds of those ancient fellows and ended up enjoying this part.

The only down side was the exam. My TMAs scored very well through out the course but my exam result brought my grade down from a 2 to a 4 which took me by surprise.

There is also alot of reading to do in this course. I am looking forward to my next course and hope to take A330.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.


Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2015 presentation of A219. The survey was carried out in 2016.

162 students (a response rate of 39.3%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 88.8 143
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 88.8 143
The module provided good value for money 73.7 115
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 87 141
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 87 140
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 88.8 143
I would recommend this module to other students 84.8 134
The module met my expectations 81.3 130
I enjoyed studying this module 90.6 145
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 81.3 130
Faculty comment: "The module team is pleased that the majority of respondents were satisfied with their study experience and materials. 91% stated that they enjoyed studying the module, and 85% would recommend it to others. In response to the October 2014 module presentation survey responses, the module team addressed and discussed, via the module discussion forum, how to approach interdisciplinary study, and how to define Classical Studies, since some students can find the breadth of the primary source base challenging in what is often their first Classical Studies module. A series of 'Meet the module team' forums was also introduced to strengthen discussion of module key themes, answer specific questions and encourage a sense of community. These initiatives will continue for the October 2016 module presentation, and the module team will continue to monitor student satisfaction."
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