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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.). In this course you will be able to trace this extraordinary process through an intensive study of 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 - but not forgetting too The Book of Kells in TCD itself.
  • Medieval history begins with a survey of Europe between 1000 and 1250, covering the key political, social and cultural developments of the period, including the growing importance of kings and kingdoms, and the many conflicts of the medieval world - including the Crusades.

The second and third years

In the second year all students are required to take the three compulsory modules: Europe, 1250-1500: Religion, death and culture; 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 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; Romanesque art and architecture; Art in the Age of Chivalry; Hundred Years War; Renaissance Florence, c.1348-c.1527; Painting and sculpture in the Italian Renaissance; and Medieval religion, c.1215-1517. There is also the possibility of taking a field trip module in both years; so far we have been to Northumbria in northern England and Florence in Italy.

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 Hellenistic and Roman Egypt; Cyprus: Entertainment and spectacle in the ancient world; Hellenistic kings and cities; Empire and papacy in the eleventh century; Norman conquests 1048-1169; Medieval warfare; and the Art of Sanctity.

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

Trinity College maintains a wide range of international links with universities across Europe – from France to Cyprus. Many foreign universities now teach courses in English too, and through the Erasmus exchange programme it may be possible to spend the Senior Freshman (second) year abroad.

Career opportunities

Graduates in the disciplines studied on the course have entered an exciting variety of fields after leaving university, including accountancy, advertising, archaeology, art restoration, business, civil service, diplomatic corps, heritage and museum work, human resources, journalism, management, publishing and teaching. 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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