Ucl history department

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(Value: One Course Unit)

Normally available to students in any year


Room numbers relate to the History Department, 23-26 Gordon Square, unless otherwise stated.

Please note that the items under ‘Selected Reading’ are merely to give an idea of the content of the course and students are not expected to have read any of them. However, you may wish to browse through a few of them to get a fuller idea of the scope of the course.

It will not be possible to take the following combinations of courses in 2006-2007:

6001 with 7101

6002 with 6311

6101 with 6308 or 6315 or 7326

6103 with 7318 or 7324

6105 with 6306 or 7318 or 7324

6201 with 6314 or 7303

6303 with 6305 or 7003

6304 with 7101

6305 with 6303 or 7003

6306 with 6105 or 7318 or 7324

6308 with 6101

6311 with 6002

6314 with 6201 or 7303



HIST6001 History of Political Thought

HIST6002 History and Sociology of Rationality

HIST6101 The Near East to 1200 BC: the earliest states

HIST6103 The Mediterranean World c.800-500 BC

HIST6105 The Roman Empire from Augustus to Theodosius I

HIST6107 The Roman Republic c.350-44 BC

HIST6201 Europe in the Early Middle Ages, 400-1000

HIST6203 Celtic History in the Early Middle Ages

HIST6303 The Transformation of Britain, 1547-1707

HIST6304 British History c.1850-1990

HIST6305 Europe 1870-1945: paths through modernity

HIST6306 Britain and the Wider World 1878-1982

HIST6308 Europe 1806-1871

HIST6311 History and Politics of Latin America, c.1930 to the present

HIST6314 The Making of Modern America: the United States since 1920

HIST6315 History of the Caribbean in the Twentieth Century


Teacher: Angus Gowland

Lecture: Thursday 11-12, room 105, 24 Gordon Square; Class: ONE of Tuesday 2-3 (room G.10), Tuesday 4-5 (room G.10), Friday 11-12 (room G.10), Friday 12-1 (room G.10)

This course traces the development of western political thought from its classical origins to its most important modern formulations, exploring the main European traditions of inquiry concerning the best political society and way of life for its members. It extends from Greek antiquity to the late nineteenth century, and emphasis is placed on the writings of major thinkers including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Thomas More, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Adam Smith, Rousseau, J.S. Mill, Marx and Nietzsche. The theories of these authors are interpreted through their employment of fundamental political concepts such as liberty, justice, equality, natural law and natural rights, virtue, sovereignty, authority, the state, constitution, and revolution. But the course also places great emphasis on the relationship between the texts under consideration and the political and intellectual contexts in which their authors were writing.

Teaching is provided in two forms. Lectures are given in the first two terms; and students participate in discussions of particular authors and texts in Essay classes, also given in the first two terms.

The course will be assessed by one 3-hour written paper (75%) and 2 essays totalling 5,000 words (25%).

Selected Reading:

Plato Apology; Crito; Republic

Aristotle Politics; Nicomachean Ethics

Cicero On Duties

St. Augustine The City of God

Machiavelli The Prince

Hobbes Leviathan

Locke Two Treatises of Government

Montesquieu The Spirit of the Laws

Hume Political Essays; A Treatise of Human Nature

Smith The Wealth of Nations; The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Rousseau Discourse on the Origin of Inequality; The Social Contract

J.S. Mill On Liberty; Considerations on Representative Government

Marx The Communist Manifesto; The German Ideology

Nietzsche On the Genealogy of Morality


Teacher: David d’Avray

Lecture: Tuesday 12-1, room 107, 25 Gordon Square (1st Term), room 114, Foster Court (2nd Term), room 107, 25 Gordon Square (3rd Term); Class: ONE of Tuesday 2-3 (room 413), Tuesday 4-5 (room 413), Wednesday 11-12 (room 413)

The easiest way to define rationality is to say what it is not. It is different from being right. If a girl abstains from food because she thinks she is fat, even though she is objectively thinner than everyone around her, that is not a rational judgment. It may arise from a need to feel that she controls at least her body, just as the incurable's faith in phoney remedies may have a psychological function; but in both cases there is a ‘rationality gap’ between the function and the reasons given (to themselves and others). So the course will attempt to separate the rational and irrational elements in historical phenomena. For instance, in the Middle Ages many pious women abstained from food, like anorexics, but arguably their actions were rational within a religious system that emphasized sacrifice: men could easily sacrifice power, money, or the right to marry; women had less power in these domains but they did control food so that they could sacrifice that. This raises the further question of whether the belief in sacrifice was rational, or at least, whether rational in the same sense as (say) fasting for medical reasons. These questions will be asked and answered with respect to concrete historical and anthropological cases. Specific historical themes considered will include rationality in the ancient city state, medieval ordeal, persecutions of Jews and Witches in the medieval and early modern periods, the rationality of legal systems (Moslem Law, medieval religious law, Common Law, Continental legal systems), the functional rationality of eastern and western devotional practices, the rationality or irrationality of past political decision-making (whether by medieval kings or by twentieth-century dictators), bureaucratic rationality, and many other topics: for the aim will be to apply a method and theory to the particular problems which individual students are studying in their other courses. It should be noted that the particular kind of rationality called ‘Rationalism’ will not receive more attention than other kinds of rationality and irrationality.

The course will be taught by means of lectures and essay classes. It is examined by one 3-hour paper (100%). Students are also required to write unassessed essays.

Selected Reading:

A. MacIntyre Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, London, 1988, esp. chs.I & XVIII

R. Kieckhefer ‘The Specific Rationality of Medieval Magic’, American Historical Review,

99 (1994), pp.813-36

M. Sahlins How ‘Natives’ think, about Captain Cook, for example, 1995

Robert Shiller Irrational Exuberance, Princeton, 2000

Max Weber Economy and Society, ed. G. Roth & R. Wittich (1978), esp. pp.3-26

Bryan R. Wilson, ed. Rationality, Oxford, 1979


Teachers: Amélie Kuhrt and Karen Radner

Lecture: Monday 10-12, room 212, Roberts Building; Class: ONE of Tuesday 10-11 (room G.10), Tuesday 11-12 (room G.10), Tuesday 12-1 (room G.10), Tuesday 4-5 (room G.09)

The course attempts to cover the history of all areas of the Near East from c.3000-c.1200 B.C.; this includes Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Levant and Iran. Because of the disposition of the written sources the emphasis is primarily on Egypt and Mesopotamia; and falls into roughly three chronological phases: c.3000-2000, 2000-1600, 1600-1200. The following aspects are covered: development of the Egyptian state and the historical events of the Old, Middle and New Kingdom including the establishment of Egyptian control of Nubia and the Syro-Palestinian area; the evolution of urban societies in southern Mesopotamia, development of the Sumerian civilization, the establishment of the Old Akkadian empire succeeded by the bureaucratic empire of the third dynasty of Ur; the struggle for political pre-eminence between the various city-states of southern and northern Mesopotamia and Syria, their social, economic, legal development, their commercial inter-relationships and the rise of Hammurabi's dynasty to power; the movements of population groups which profoundly influenced the settled societies in Mesopotamia, Levant, and Anatolia (Amorites, Hurrians, Kassites, ‘Indo-Europeans’'); the small-state system of Central Anatolia and the subsequent development of the Hittite state from small kingdom to empire and its sudden collapse. As far as possible, given the scantiness of evidence, the culture of Iran and Western Anatolia is examined. The development and varying fortunes of the city-states of the Levant is of special interest, particularly their relationship to the various major international powers of the period.

The course is taught in lectures and essay classes. The course will be assessed by one 3-hour written paper (75%) and 2 essays totalling 5,000 words (25%).

Selected Reading:

A. Kuhrt The Ancient Near East, 3000-330 B.C. (London 1995, pb. 1997)

B. Knapp The Ancient History of Western Asia and Egypt (Chicago 1988)

M. Liverani Antico Oriente: Storia, Società, Economia (Rome 1988)

B. Trigger, B. Kemp, D. O'Conner and A. Lloyd Ancient Egypt: a social history

(Cambridge 1983)

J. Bottéro, E. Cassin, J. Vercoutter (eds.) The Near East: the early civilizations (trans.)

(London 1967)

- Die Altorientalischen Reiche 2, (Frankfurt-am-Main 1965) (Fischer Weltgeschichte Band 3)

Cambridge Ancient History I and II (rev. ed.) (Cambridge 1972-5)

P. Garelli Le proche-orient asiatique (Paris 1969)

J Baines & J. Malek Atlas of Ancient Egypt (Oxford 1979)

B. Kemp Ancient Egypt: anatomy of civilization (London 1989)

A.L. Oppenheim Ancient Mesopotamia: portrait of a dead civilisation (Chicago 1964)

S. Dalley Myths from Mesopotamia (Oxford 1989)

J.B. Pritchard (ed.) Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament (Princeton,

1969) (abb. ANET)

- The Ancient Near East in Pictures (Princeton, N.J. 1969) (abb. ANEP)

Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments (Gütersloh 1983 - not yet completed)

D. Collon First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East (London


W. Stevenson Smith The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (1958 rev.ed., Harmondsworth


E. Strommenger & M. Hirmer The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia (trans.), (London 1965)

P. Amiet Art of the Ancient Near East, (New York 1980)

M. Roaf Cultural Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia and the Near East (Oxford 1990)


Teacher: Hans van Wees

Lecture: Wednesday 12-1, room 105, 24 Gordon Square; Class: ONE of Thursday 10-11 (room G.02), Thursday 11-12 (room G.02), Friday 10-11 (room G.02)

This course will cover the societies of Greece and Italy in the first half of the first millennium B.C., but focusing on the period from the eighth to the sixth century B.C. A major aim will be to demonstrate the interactions of these areas with one another, as well as with the Near East.

In Greece this is the period of the formation and consolidation of the polis, when the fundamental institutions of Greek city-states emerge. At this time Greece both looks east and travels west, and geographical exploration is accompanied by cultural and intellectual explorations which leave a lasting imprint on Greek societies. Literacy, the beginnings of literary and philosophical traditions, religious transformations, economic expansion (including the adoption of coinage), developments in military organisation, and colonisation are all connected with the cultural and political explosions such explorations induced. By the end of the period Greek poleis were scattered across the entire Mediterranean, and ranged from Africa to the Black Sea.

In Italy too, the emergence of city-states (along with other kinds of states), via processes of secondary state formation resulting from increasingly close contacts with Greeks and Phoenicians, is a major feature of this period. Elites appropriated elements of the `new' cultures which they met, perhaps in order to consolidate their own power, but the result was that large-scale changes were wrought in the structures and institutions of Italian societies. This is particularly visible in Etruria where religious practices, economic contacts and transformations, political and military structures, and artistic and technological developments can be discerned through archaeological, epigraphical, and, to a lesser extent, later literary sources.

The course will be taught by lectures and essay classes. Students are required to prepare for and participate in seminar and class discussions. The course will be examined by one 3-hour written paper (75%) and 2 assessed essays totalling 5,000 words (25%).

Selected Reading:

Oswyn Murray Early Greece, 2nd ed. (London 1993)

A. Snodgrass Archaic Greece (London 1980)

L.H. Jeffrey Archaic Greece: The City-States, c.700-500 B.C. (London 1976)

François de Polignac Cults, Territory, and the Origins of the Greek City-State (Chicago 1995)

Kurt A. Raaflaub ‘Homer to Solon. The Rise of the Polis', in M.H. Hansen (ed.),

The Ancient Greek City-State (Copenhagen 1993), pp.41-105

T.J. Cornell The Beginnings of Rome (London 1995)

R.Ross Holloway The Archaeology of Early Rome and Latium (London 1994)

D. & F.R. Ridgway (eds.) Italy before the Romans (1979)

R.M. Ogilvie Early Rome and the Etruscans (London 1976)


Teacher: Benet Salway

Lecture: Wednesday 11-12, room 105, 24 Gordon Square; Class: ONE of Monday 11-12 (room G.06), Tuesday 11-12 (room 201), Tuesday 12-1 (room 201)

The course covers the period from the creation of the new régime by Augustus to the establishment of Christianity and the separation of the Eastern and Western Empires, that is approximately from 31 BC to AD 410. The familiar modern idea of the Roman Empire derives from accounts of the lives and deaths of Emperors, their wives, their freedmen and courtiers; this is not an accident because ancient writers themselves focus mostly on the court life of Rome and on the making of policy by Senate and Emperor. The challenge to the student of this period is to try to correct this imbalance in the source material by making use of the plentiful but scattered evidence about life in the cities of the Empire and about the lives of those who lived below the level of the ruling élite in Rome.

The main themes to be studied are: The nature and limitations of the historical tradition and the other sources of information for Roman life in this period. The system of imperial government created by Augustus; the ideas about a "new age" generated in the process of reform and the expression of these ideas in literature and history-writing. The changing relationships between Rome and the provinces, including the gradual extension of citizen rights throughout the Empire. The development of an imperial economy and the reasons for its failure to develop further. The nature of town-life and the degree of Romanization in the Eastern and Western provinces. Social and religious change, before and after the troubles of the mid-third century AD. The causes and extent of the transformation of the Empire in the fourth century AD as marked by the rise of Christianity, the marginalization of pagan religion, the weakening of frontiers and the introduction of invaders, settlers and mercenaries from outside the Empire's boundaries. The reasons for the collapse of the Western and the survival of the Eastern imperial systems.

The teaching is by lectures and discussion classes. It is expected that the course will be assessed by one 3-hour written paper (75%) and 2 essays totalling 5,000 words (25%).

Selected Reading:

P. Garnsey & R. Saller The Roman Empire (1987)

F. Millar The Roman Empire and its Neighbours (2nd ed., 1981)

C.M. Wells The Roman Empire (2nd ed., 1992)

D.S. Potter The Roman Empire at Bay: AD180-395 (2004)

R. Syme The Roman Revolution (1939)

Paul Zanker The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (1988)

M.K. Hopkins Death and Renewal (1983)

B. Isaac The Limits of Empire (1990)

R. Lane Fox Pagans and Christians (1986)

P.R.L. Brown The World of Late Antiquity (1978)

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