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Ancient and medieval history and culture

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Course overview

Ancient and medieval history and culture offers you a unique opportunity to investigate the cultural and political genesis of Europe by focusing on the fascinating transition from the ancient to the medieval world (2000 B.C. - 1500 A.D.).Through lectures, small group teaching and site visits you will be able to trace this extraordinary process reflected in the art, archaeology, culture and history of the ancient and medieval worlds, familiarising yourself with key events, issues and mentalities. You will be encouraged to pursue an interdisciplinary approach to your studies, as well as to appraise critically the art and material culture of the period and the documentary sources in translation.

Is this the right course for you?

If you want to understand how Europe began to become what it is today, then this course will be of interest. Also, if you have a particular curiosity about the way in which cultural, social and political issues have been confronted by societies in the past, then this too is the course for you.

Course content

Over the four years you will develop a broad understanding of the ancient and medieval worlds through an analysis of their art, architecture, archaeology, culture and history. These disciplines will be introduced to you in first-year courses, taught by a mixture of lectures and tutorial discussion groups. As your studies progress, your courses become more thematically specialised, with an increasing emphasis on intensive discussion and independent research.

The Junior Freshman year

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will take a combination of courses in Ancient history, Art history and Medieval history, dividing your time equally between the three disciplines. In total, there are approximately twelve hours of timetabled study per week. It is possible to substitute the courses in Ancient history to take Latin at beginner's or advanced level.

  • Ancient history introduces key aspects of Greek and Roman art, archaeology, architecture, history and mythology. Topics covered include the Athenian invention of democracy; Rome’s emergence as an imperial power; war, conflict and colonisation; and the social context of art and architecture, including the legacy of Greek and Roman artistic expression.
  • Art history surveys key developments in painting, sculpture and architecture. You will be introduced to topics ranging from the mosaics in the Italian city of Ravenna to the great cathedral of Chartres in France – together with medieval masterpieces closer to home such as The Book of Kells in Trinity itself.
  • Medieval history surveys Europe between 1000 and 1250, covering the key political, social and cultural developments of the period, including the Crusades. It also introduces Early Christian Ireland and religion and society in the later medieval period.

The Senior Freshman and Junior Sophister years

In the second (Senior Freshman) year all students are required to take the three compulsory modules: Medieval history; Greek history or Roman imperial history; Medieval art. The remaining modules are chosen from a range offered by the three disciplines, for example Irish, British and European medieval history, Latin (if taken in first year), architectural history, and the archaeology of the Greek and Roman worlds.

In their third (Junior Sophister) year all students take the interdisciplinary module on the ancient and medieval city Rome, which is taught by specialists from the three disciplines. The remaining modules must include at least one module from each of the three main subject areas. The selection currently offered includes: Aegean Bronze Age; Greek archaeology; Roman archaeology; Roman Britain; Viking raiders; The reign of Charlemagne; The Crusades; Early Medieval art; Insular art; Romanesque art and architecture; Art in the Age of Chivalry; Hundred Years War; Renaissance Florence, c.1337-c.1527 and Painting and sculpture in the Italian Renaissance.

The Senior Sophister year

In their fourth year all students are required to write a dissertation on a topic of their choice. This gives you an opportunity both to investigate thoroughly an area that particularly interests you and to develop independent research skills. Of two further modules taken, students are free to specialise in an area that particularly interests them or to maintain a broad base of courses across the disciplines. Offerings currently include Jewish society and politics, 200BC-AD70; Ancient rhetoric: Entertainment and spectacle in the ancient world; Anthropology and the Greeks; Theatre and theatricality in Greece and Rome; Vikings; Empire and papacy in the eleventh century; Ireland in the twelfth century; Ireland and the Plantagenet Empire, 1327-99; Art and architecture in Late Medieval Ireland; The art of Sanctity and Art, Gender and the body in Medieval and Renaissance Italy.

Assessment

A combination of end-of-year examination and continuous assessment (e.g. essays, seminar presentations, and team projects and commentaries on texts), and a dissertation is written in the final year.

Study abroad

There is the possibility of taking a field trip module in both second and third years; past trips include Northumbria and Canterbury in England and Florence in Italy.

Students can also apply to participate in Erasmus exchange agreements with universities in Turkey, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as exchange programmes with American and Australian universities.

Career opportunities

The interdisciplinary nature of the course opens up an exciting variety of fields after leaving university. Specific related fields include archaeology, art conservation, heritage and museum work and teaching. Graduates in these disciplines have also entered accountancy, advertising, business, civil service, diplomatic corps, human resources, journalism, management, and publishing. Several others have progressed to postgraduate study at universities across Ireland, Europe and America.

Further information

www.histories-humanities.tcd.ie/undergraduate/ancient-medieval

Tel: +353 1 896 8589

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