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Core Course: Classics Now!


Admission requirements

All students admitted to the MA Classics are admissible. BA Classics is an admission requirement. Research MA students are admissible, but this course is extra curricular for them, since it is not aimed at acquiring Research MA level research skills.


Why do we study Classics in the modern world? In what ways can we use ancient texts as ‘tools for thinking’ to analyze current affairs and societal problems? We will study the debate on the usefulness of Classics and look at a number of currrent issues, such as the #Metoo debate, the refugee crisis, the dangers of playing computer games or reading Homer, debates about the nature of art, combat trauma and the ancient Greeks, and several other topics.

Course objectives

The course is designed to be useful for future teachers, but also for everyone who will use their MA Classics degree to pursue other, extra-academic, careers. It is meant to strengthen the coherence and profile of the Classics track of the MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations in Leiden. It is the core course of this track, compulsory for all students. If space permits, RMA students are allowed to take this class; however, the credits cannot count towards the fulfillment of the RMA requirements, since this is not a seminar designed to train future researchers.

At the end of this course:

  • students will have acquired insight into the (historical) debate over the usefulness or relevance of the study of Classics, and learned to formulate their own position in this debate;

  • students will be aware of the pitfalls of and theoretical backgrounds to using historical evidence in contemporary debates;

  • students will have acquired writing skills in sub-academic genres, in particular the essay (but also e.g. the ‘letter to the editor’ (op-ed pieces), or a blog or other social media), in their potential to spread ideas based on academic research;

  • students will have familiarized themselves with possible roles of classical texts in a number of contemporary debates;

  • in oral presentation they will present audibly, clearly and on the basis of arguments the results of the student’s research, and make effective use of hand-out, illustrations or multi-media techniques;

  • students will have read in the original a number of ancient texts speaking to modern issues and be able to demonstrate their graps of these texts in an oral exam.


The timetable is available on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours; or 10 ec x 28 hours= 280 hours:

  • Lectures: 13 × 2 = 26 hours;

  • Study of compulsory literature: 54 hours;

  • Assignment(s): 60 hours, including several writing and presentation assignments and oral exam.

When taken for 10 EC: additional 25 pages of Greek/Latin OCT; written paper (= 140 hours).

Assessment method

When taken for 5 EC:

  • Active participation and preparation (10%);

  • collaborative presentation, possibly including organizing and chairing group discussion (20%);

  • Three writing assignments (20%, 20%, 30%), details provided in syllabus.

When taken for 10 EC:

in addition to the above requirements (which will now together make up 50% of the final grade) an oral exam will be taken on a 5 EC reading list, consisting of primary and secondary texts, and to be composed in consultation with the instructor (50%).

Pensa to be established in consultation with the instructor. Pensum exam must in itself be 5.5 or above; weighted average of writing assignments must also be 5.5 or above.


Final grade established on the basis of weighted average, with the proviso made above.


Resit possible for parts of the seminar that were below passing grades.

Inspection and Feedback

Feedback will be provided on the performance of each student on each assignment/presentation/exam.


Blackboard will be used to make materials available to students and instructor and for announcements regarding the course.

Reading list

Initial bibliography will be provided in first session. Some reading materials will be made available through Blackboard and in the Classics reading room on ‘seminar shelf’ in library (these books will not be lent out). Students will largely be determining their own bibliography in consultation with the instructor on the basis of the topics they want to study more closely.

Everyone must read, either in English or Dutch:

  • Nussbaum, Martha, Not for Profit. Why Democracy needs the Humanities. Princeton 2010 (translated into Dutch as Niet voor de Winst. Waarom de democratie de geesteswetenschappen nodig heeft). Amsterdam: Ambo, 2011.

  • Beard, M., 2017. Women and Power.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. dr. I. (Ineke) Sluiter


  • Language of instruction/examination:
    Class instruction and discussion will be in English when non-Dutch speakers are present. However, given the objectives of the class and the importance of the Dutch context, all written assignments may be produced in Dutch or English, as the student prefers. Dutch students must produce at least one text in Dutch. Oral examinations (in case of 10 EC) will be in Dutch or English, depending on the first language of the student.

  • Details of assignments:
    As always, a detailed syllabus will be handed out at the first session of class; it will also be made available on Blackboard.