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Ancient History Track

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Track Description

The program offers students a pathway to explore the history of ancient Greece and Rome and their relationships with the neighboring cultures of the Near East, Europe, and Africa. It is also ideal for students interested in acquiring training in the academic discipline of history while concentrating on the period spanning the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700 B.C.E.) to the early medieval and Byzantine worlds (ca. 600 C.E.). Although students may specialize in a particular field of history (political, social, economic, cultural), geographic area, or historical period of antiquity, the aim of the program is to provide a well-rounded training in the field of history, with a focus on ancient history. Each student’s program must contain eight courses at the 200-level or above (with limited exceptions as described below), including two at the 300-level, plus the Junior Seminar. 

Degree Progress Checklist


The eight courses taken toward the Ancient History track must include: one survey course on ancient Greek history (CLA 216 or 217) and one survey course on Roman history (CLA 218 or 219); one course substantially dealing with ancient material culture; and one course on premodern (i.e., pre-1789) history or non-industrial societies beyond Greece and Rome. An additional course that introduces students to the main methods, theories, and/or philosophies of history is also strongly encouraged. The remaining elective courses should follow a coherent plan that prepares the student for independent research; ordinarily any course listed as CLA, CLG, or LAT at the 200-level or above will count, and other courses may be approved for concentration credit by the DUS.  One of the courses may be fulfilled by the sequence of CLG/LAT 105-108 or study of another language relevant to the student’s interests at any level.  

Junior Seminar

During the fall of the junior year, all concentrators take the Junior Seminar (CLA 340). The course introduces students to different fields of study within the Department, including literature, ancient history, ancient culture, linguistics, and reception studies. Students will gain experience in the methods of their chosen area(s) of study while acquiring an understanding of the history of the discipline and its place in the 21st century. Students will also acquire the skills necessary to pursue independent work. Students who are abroad during the fall of their junior year may complete the Junior Seminar during the fall semester of their senior year. 

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work

In the fall term of the Junior year, each student researches and writes a paper of 12 to 15 pages on a topic of their choosing under the direction of a faculty advisor. Students are advised to begin the project by choosing a “focal point” (for example, a passage of text, a historical event, a material object) that they can investigate in depth, using all the tools of research available to them (including reference works and specialized secondary scholarship). The Junior Seminar will provide guidance in choosing and researching a topic, and concludes with a presentation of the student’s focal point to the class. In the spring term, students undertake a more ambitious research paper of 20 to 25 pages, which they develop in conversation with a faculty advisor, meeting meeting regularly over the course of the term and submitting a prospectus (500 word description and 10-15 item bibliography) on the first Monday following spring break.

Senior Independent Work

At the end of the junior year, concentrators propose a provisional thesis topic to the DUS along with a list of potential faculty advisors, on the basis of which they are assigned a thesis advisor. Students work with their advisor over the course of the fall term, submitting a 1000 word description and 15-20 item bibliography in Mid-October.  This prospectus must be approved by your advisor and will provide the basis for a conversation with the Undergraduate Committee later in the month when you meet to discuss your thesis proposal.  The student works together with their advisor to complete a first chapter of the thesis by the first day of the spring term, and submit a final draft shortly before the end of the spring semester.

Senior Departmental Examination

A thirty-minute oral comprehensive examination focusing on three topics related to courses completed while majoring in Classics is administered during Reading Period of the spring term by the undergraduate committee, chaired by the DUS.  

Students are expected to submit a bibliography of three to five items on each of these three topics two weeks prior to the exam, to the undergraduate coordinator and the DUS, for approval by the DUS.