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Student and tutor module reviews

Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A330
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

This is a fantastic module. So much is relevant to today as well as adding a great deal to understanding where our civilisation came from. It's an enormously rich subject that has always been of interest to me. It's structured really well and doesn't try to beat you over the head with other people's views on things.

Darren Taggart

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: July 2020

I really enjoyed this course. I had not studied classics before, but apart from having to look up Greek and Roman History for context, this was not a problem. An ability to interpret art works and written texts was all that was needed.

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: August 2016

I greatly enjoyed the primary sources on this course - and particularly enjoyed discovering Ovid. However, at times I was not sure whether this was meant to be a Classical Studies course (I am following the Classical Studies route and I found having done level 2 Classical Studies courses beneficial) or a literature course (one TMA strangely seemed to be very much a literature question).

There is a lot to read - the primary sources are great but be warned, the secondary sources are complicated and at time difficult to understand and follow. There is a lot about the reception of myth and I found these sources very difficult and if the forum chatter is anything to go by I was not alone. I also found the wording of the TMA questions very oblique - there was much chatter on the forums about what was really expected from the questions and I have not noticed this before on any of the other OU courses I have done.

So, if like me you find Greek and Roman myth interesting and you want to find out about Hesiod, Homer, Ovid, Virgil and others there is much to enjoy about this course.

Jane Elizabeth Bernhardt

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: October 2015

This is the best course ever. It is superbly well constructed, sincerely. Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds will take you on a sort of magical journey in philosophy, art and literature appreciation. Many of the elements herein are drawn together seamlessly, and the pieces fall into place towards the end of the module, so what you learned at the start fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. If you are considering taking this course, don't think: just do it.

Maxwell Lewis Latham

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: September 2015

Having completed A219 Exploring the Classical World I decided to change tack and study A330-Myth in the Greek and Roman World, rather the third level Empire course. I think it was because I find inter-disciplinary courses more to my liking than straight forward history. I wasn't disappointed A330 not only encompasses history, but literature, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology,'s a great course to do, I think, from a number of academic angles, and still has a relevance today.

My only caveat was that I did not like the ECA. I felt that it did not do justice to the depth and breadth of the course. After all who wants to write yet another open-ended essay. Having said this, and having been critical in the end of course review, I found I had obtained a pretty decent grade, much against my expectations. Oh well!

Stephen James Bell

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

One of the best courses of my degree. Don't underestimate the amount of reading and background context you will need if (like me) you have little or no classical knowledge.

Reading Ovid was initially daunting but a good audio version made it all worth it, never realised how much classical literature has permeated modern culture and the arts, it's everywhere.

Highly recommended for anyone wanting to bridge the gap between Shakespeare and modern literature.

Carla Gee

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: January 2014

This course is fantastic - absolutely fascinating from beginning to end. Be warned however, this is not a history course and there is a heavy focus on literature and reception theory. This emphasis has seemed to disappoint some students; but in my opinion the emphasis on literature and reception theory enriched my understanding of historical events.

Take the time to familiarise yourself with the general layout of the course materials and read at least the first six books of Ovid's Metamorphoses before the course begins and you will reap the benefit later, as this book in particular is integral to the course.

This is a level 3 course and the materials reflect this; it is not possible to take short cuts with reading and the EMA is not an easier option than an exam, you should start planning the EMA long before you reach this part of the course. Having said this, the course is well written and immensely rewarding - I really felt that my previous studies of the classics at Level 1 and Level 2 came together in this course. I am now addicted to Ovid and Euripides! This course has come in for some heavy criticism in the forums, quite undeservedly in my opinion. Frankly, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sarah Ann Hart

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

For me the highlight of this course was Ovid, and, as other reviewers have stated, I strongly recommend students of this course to read the Metamorphoses in its entirety - it is rewarding in itself.

Sadly, though, this proved the most disappointing of all the OU courses I studied. This was my final course, and I went into it with both history and classical studies courses under my belt. As others have mentioned, I would recommend studying A219 first. A330 is, compared to my other courses, poorly structured and the DVD supplement not the best the OU have compiled. The set text books were not that useful and I found more information in other titles.

I am afraid to say that A330 is a poor replacement for the previous Level 3 classical studies course, AA309 (Roman Empire). The TMAs were level 2/3, and the EMA has too low a word count, so you do not feel you are submitting a level 3 piece of work.

Sadly I do not feel this course fulfils its stated objectives. You do learn about myths, but arguably little about Classical Civilisation, compared to other OU courses (A219, AA309). Only a narrow window is opened on the Greek and Roman worlds.

My tutor was very good, supportive and had the knowledge. The London Region Arts Club also offered good lectures/tours at the British Museum.

In summary, unless you are avidly into classical mythology this course will disappoint. Best advice is to read some books on myth, and Ovid, and then decide if this is the course for you. Where AA309 was a natural progression from A219, sadly A330 is not. I hope, for future students, the OU revise their level 3 classics course soon.

Best wishes with your studies. JH

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Faculty response

A330's structure is designed to support students making the transition from Level 2 to 3, including those new to Classical Studies, who may be following an Art History or English Literature pathway. TMAs therefore build gradually (in terms of difficulty and word length), enabling students to practise and consolidate the necessary textual and visual source analysis skills.

The module encourages students to focus in detail on a particular aspect of the classical world (mythology), with almost equal attention given to classical Greece and Rome. Set texts (primary sources and reference works) provide essential context for the myths studied.

I know that I am in a minority as I disliked this course more or less from beginning to end. I certainly don't want to detract from the real enjoyment that most students experience but maybe it's important for a dissenting voice to be heard as well, so prospective students don't think everyone loved it.

I came to it as part of history degree with no previous experience of classics (apart from loving Latin at school an age ago). I found the lack of historical analysis frustrating. The course felt disjointed and unfocused and I was never quite sure what the point of it was. I know of other students whose main love is history who felt the same so it might be to do with the perspective you come from. I also found that a lot of pre-knowledge was assumed. Despite the guidance saying that A219 was not a pre-requisite, there seemed to be an assumption that you had done it. I did a lot of preparatory reading based on the books recommended by the course team but this was of limited use. I was grateful for the help of students in my tutorial group who lent me course materials from A219 which helped a lot. But I never really 'got it'.

Fortunately I had a brilliant tutor, without whom I would have really struggled. So, if you are a classics person you will probably love it, but if you come from a history background I advise caution and would certainly suggest you do A219 first. I will however always be grateful for being introduced to Ovid - the one bit of the course I did love.

Sheila Ramsay

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

My eyes were opened! I have always wondered what the Greek and Roman myths were based on and why it was important to the populace. This course was brilliant in explaining what the gods and goddesses roles were. Ovid was a wonder. Once I had understood how fluid and undulating his versions were and understood the mythological process, things started to fall into place. Heaps of reading though. Thank you.

Gayle McVay

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Really loved this course from start to finish and would recommend it to anyone who has interest in myths and muythical reception, ancient Roman and Greek history as well as exam avoiders!

Beware though, just because there is no exam doesn't mean the EMA is an easy option. Reading Ovid before the course starts or finding a good audio version would have helped me, as would more background on Greek and Roman history.

Get to tutorials if you can, if you are lucky and had the great tutor I had and can keep your enthusiasm through a challenging 9 months you'll have a great time.

All in all one of my favourite courses.

Carla Gee

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

This course was certainly one of the best courses I have done with the O.U. It was apparent that the course and content had been put together from scratch rather than a couple of the other courses I had done that seemed put together around external materials and sometimes a bit disjointed.

Personally I found the TMA followed by EMA process far more rewarding than an exam. My TMA marks were generally quite good to start and became better as I went along which suggests to me that the course was well planned.

I strongly advise reading Ovid's Metamorphoses long before the course starts and leafing through the other books to get a sense of the classical world mindset. The course moves from the origins of the Gods to modern interpretation of the mythical landscape and is heavily concerned with reception studies which I found absorbing.

Due to the lack of classics courses with any major ancient history content (O.U courses seem heavy on arts but short on ancient history itself), anyone trying to put together a degree with mostly archaeological and ancient history content, this course is invaluable. Sadly the O.U. seem to be dropping classics courses every year and have now left only 90 credits at Level 3 with a classical/historical core. A330 and A397 (Latin) are a great combination, so where are the other 30 credits since the O.U. pulled the Greek Language course down to level 2 and grafted it onto a history of Greek theatre. Given the popularity of Archaeology and Ancient History, the O.U. seems to be lacking not only foresight, but the ability to count.

Be that as it may, A330 is a lovely course to undertake. The research area of the EMA was a fantastic way of preparing for a Masters. Highly recommended.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: July 2013

I would just like to say that I found this course one of the most interesting and rewarding courses I have taken with the OU to date.

I would point out that this is not a history course and just like other classics courses there is a heavy focus on literature. I found the focus on the reception of myth to be extremely interesting and realised just how relevant myth is today as it was to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

In terms of the literature side I found Ovids Metamorphoses not just integral as a course text but also as a damn good read and would recommend anyone considering this course to try and read as much of this work as possible before starting as a working knowledge as you progress through the course materials would in my opinion help you to see common themes throughout.

The TMAs were appropriate to the course materials and found that they helped in reiterating all that had been covered. I would say however that this is a Level 3 course and the TMAs are rightly challenging and diverse covering whole module blocks, so it is not as easy to selectively read as one might be able to do so in other courses.

A330 is my first course with an EMA and to be honest, after completing the EMA I wasnt sure if I liked it and would rather sit an exam! That being said my results were excellent and very much on par with my expectations based on my TMA results so I have no complaints. I would just like to point out that the EMA on this course is all about research and should NOT be treated in the same way as a TMA. You have a certain level of independence in your choices for the EMA so plan early and dont leave it until the last minute.

I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in classics and literature and if you do your research and read the full course description before registering you wont be disappointed. But do be aware this is a challenging course and you must not get behind with the reading as it can be hard to catch up!

Tony Potter

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

The course was interesting and tutor marvellous. However the EMA was marked in a very different way and not enough guidance was given to achieve the best result. This meant that I dropped many many marks in the EMA bringing my course reult down. This was the second presentation of the course.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: March 2013

A330 is a fascinating course that will give you a very good understanding as to how the Classical World used myth in virtually all areas of life from within political, cultural and sociological contexts with a considerable element of reception theory. This was an element that some of my cohort found challenging so I would advise watching Paula James' presentation on the Pygmallion myth from Buffy The Vampire Slayer (available free on iTunes) to gain a better understanding of this concept of study if it is new to you. Personally, I found the muthos v. logos (philosophy element) more challenging, but still very interesting.

In contrast to another reviewer, I would have to disagree that TMA1 is not a guided piece of writing at Level 1. Make no mistake the source analysis required for this Level 3 course is way and above Level 1, fortunately there are clear examples of how to approach this aspect in the course materials and my own advice is to remember that every sentence in a text or every element of an object of material culture is there for a reason, you just need to decide why.

Some of the critical essays were an absolute joy to read, the Golden Bough essay was very 'marmitey' and the primary sources are well introduced and examined. I think the course is structured and pitched to just the right degree, by easing you into the myth of Hippolytus and looking at how different elements were changed over various re-tellings in text, art, etc. which effectively can change the tone of the myth. Very useful to bear this in mind for the EMA! After the introductory honeymoon phase the workload does increase but the high quality of the materials should sustain your interest and momentum.

I would recommend reading Ovid's Metamorphoses (at least the first 6 books) before the course starts, but don't be surprised if you become hooked! The TMA questions gave an opportunity to show how you have engaged with the course materials with lots of generally good guidance on how to approach. The EMA (discuss the presentation of either love or death) was an absolute joy to write, giving you an opportunity for lots of independent research whilst also using the course materials. There were some issues regarding how to approach this topic with various tutors giving conflicting advice (why is it never uniform OU?) all of whom do not mark the EMA for which they are offering advice on, which may have contributed to some able and high TMA scoring students in my cohort dropping marks significantly on the EMA and hence affecting their overall pass grade which, for some, ended a brilliant course on a sour note.

Overall I can't recommend this course highly enough - just wish I could do it all over again. It has enhanced my appreciation of Classical Studies (initiated with the equally fab A219) and I am now a huge Ovid, Euripides and Homer fan as a consequence

Lynda Bowley

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: February 2013

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.

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