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Ancient World seminar


Admission requirements

The Seminar is obligatory for all students in the MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations.


The Ancient World Seminar brings together all students of the tracks Assyriology, Classics, Egyptology, and Hebrew and Aramaic Studies. The seminar serves two goals. On the one hand, this seminar invites students to reflect on their specialization as part of the wider ancient world and to explore (literary) connections between Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome. To achieve this, we will read and discuss a number of narrative texts, including passages from Genesis, Gilgamesh, Homer, Hesiod and Ovid. On the other hand, this seminar helps students to acquire academic skills and supports them in writing their Master Thesis.
The seminar runs through the entire academic year (September to June) and is structured as follows:
1. In the first semester, meetings will concentrate on narratives of the ancient world in cross-cultural perspective, based on readings of narrative texts from the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Students will submit short essays on each of the texts that they have read, to facilitate interactive discussion. Groups of students will produce a digital presentaton of an object or artefact with intercultural dimensions for the Things That Talk platform.
2. In the second semester, meetings will focus on academic skills and on the writing of the Master Thesis. In the third term (February – March) students will be guided through the first stages of writing their thesis. Instructions will deal with formulating a research question, finding literature, oral presentation skills, academic writing, and academic integrity. One session will focus on the job market: alumni of the program will present their jobs and reflect on their studies and career choices. In the fourth term (April – May) students will give short presentations of their Master thesis, followed by discussion and feedback.

Course objectives


  • familiarity with forms of interaction between ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean and Near East, in particular concerning the motifs of (epic) tales, mythology and literary texts;


  • insight into the opportunities and challenges of the job market;

  • insight into the diversity and cohesion of the ancient world.


  • academic writing skills;

  • oral presentation skills;

  • teamwork skills;

  • interdisciplinary research skills;

  • communicating Classics and Ancient Civilizations to a wider public;

  • digital humanities (Things That Talk).


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Things That Talk group assignment: 30%

  • Assignments / examinations on readings: 30%

  • Oral presentation (thesis): 30%

  • Participation: 10%


The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components, with the additional requirement that the thesis presentation must always be sufficient.


If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, there is a resit for the thesis presentation (which must be satisfactory), the take home assignments, and / or the Things That Talk assignment.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • A translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, e.g. Andrew George, The Epic of Gilgamesh: the Babylonian epic poem and other texts in Akkadian and Sumerian, London 1999; reprinted as The epic of Gilgamesh: a new translation, Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 2000.

  • A translation of the Book of Genesis (the first book of the Hebrew Bible).

  • A selection of passages from a translation of Homer’s Iliad, e.g. M. Hammond, Homer, The Iliad. A New Prose Translation, Penguin Classics, 1987.

  • A selection of passages from a translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, e.g. A. Melville Ovid, Metamorphoses, Oxford 2008 (Oxford’s World Classics).
    Further literature will be announced in Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


All other information.