Underworld and Afterlife: ANCW30011

This is a third year Arts subject available in first semester..

Subject Outline. This subject studies Greaco-Roman texts describing the Underworld, ideas about what happens after death and the idea of a Katabasis (journey to the underworld.) It deals with subjects not unfamiliar to us, such as dealing with grief, and is generally interesting and easy to understand, making it an excellent choice for breadth. The last week of the subject deals with Katabasis in film, which seemed to be what most students were looking forward to most. Unfortunately, no films were shown in the final lecture.

Materials. There were three required textbooks; The Epic of Gilgamesh, a book of Euripides Plays and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The latter seemed to be the least necessary, as it only dealt with a small section of the course and was very long and boring to read. However, it is a beautiful book, and may be worth buying solely for showing-off purposes, costing as it did only about $20. The other two texts were more palatable and easier to understand, $20 and $25 respectively and would also look good on any bookshelf. The remainder of the required readings were posted online.

Assessment. The assessment was divided into two essays, worth 50% each, one due during the exam period as a kind of take home exam. There is not much extensive research required for either of them, although the general consensus was that many people scored less than they expected on the first essay. As with most history subjects, essays can be very hit and miss, and in this subject it seems the key for the first essay is to plan carefully so that the end result is well structured and coherent. Also, the due time on Turnitin this semester was 3pm, so make sure you keep that in mind. I was not the only one to assume it was due at midnight.

Lectures. The lectures went for an hour and a half, and mostly went over the content of the readings. They were recorded, and the slides were available online, sometimes before the lecture. There were a variety of lecturers for the variety of topics, some better at lecturing than others, so it is somewhat of a gamble turning up as to whether the lecture would be useful or just a pain.

Tutorials/Practicals. Tutorial attendance is a hurdle requirement, although if you miss one too many you will be required to write a 500 word piece on what you missed in that tute, rather than fail. Tutorials also went over the readings, however in a more interesting and entertaining way, so even without the attendance requirement they would be worth going to.

The reviewer rated this subject 7/10.

Words of Wisdom. Keep track of how many tutorials you’ve missed so you know whether you can skip any more and to avoid panicking that you’ve missed too many at the end of semester.

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