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Greek Mythology (Online)

Key facts

TypeOnline and Distance Learning
DatesWed 10 Sep to Fri 21 Nov 2014
Subject area(s)Archaeology
CATS points10
FeesFrom £245.00
Application statusApplications being accepted
Course codeO14P373AHV
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email onlinecourses@conted.ox.ac.uk.


What are Greek myths? Who told them and why? How can we interpret them? Why are they still so powerful? How much history do they contain? This course will explore these fascinating tales from the past and attempt to make sense of them.

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Listen to Steve Kershaw talking about the course

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.


What are Greek myths? How can we interpret them? Why are they still so powerful? How much history do they contain? How do they differ from legends and fairy tales? Who told them and why? Did the Trojan War really happen? What might lie behind the tales of Odysseus and the Cyclops, Prometheus, Perseus and Medusa, or the myth of Atlantis? Are the myths damaged history, allegories, or reflections of the inner workings of our minds? By going back to the original texts (in translation), and the analysis of ancient works of art, this course will exlore some of these fascinating tales from the past and evaluate various ways in which scholars have tried to make sense of them from antiquity to the present day.

Programme details

This course covers the following topics: 1. Myths and mythology 2. Homer's Iliad, Troy and the historicity of myth 3. Homer’s Odyssey, allegory and comparative mythology 4. Hesiod: the origins of the Gods and the world 5. Sophokles' Oedipus Rex, Freud and the psychoanalysis of myths 6. Hidden meanings: Medusa and Prometheus 7. The Labours of Herakles: myth, art and ideology 8. Jason and the Argonauts 9. Structuralism and beyond 10. Plato and the myth of Atlantis We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.



Dr Stephen P Kershaw

Role: Tutor

Course aims

This course aims develop an understanding of the presentation, content, and context of some of the major Greek myths, and of ways in which these might be interpreted.

The course will:
• Seek to gain a knowledge of some on the most important mythical tales to come down from antiquity;
• Analyse the different contexts and media in which Greek myths are narrated;
• Attempt to understand and assess different ways in which these tales have been interpreted from antiquity to the present day;
• Endeavour to develop skills of observation and analysis with further applications in study, work and leisure, and provide an interesting, enjoyable and relevant course of study.


This course is accredited and you are expected to take the course for credit. To be awarded credit you must complete written contributions satisfactorily. Successful students will receive credit, awarded by the Board of Studies of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. The award will take the form of 10 units of transferable credit at FHEQ level 4 of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). A transcript detailing the credit will be issued to successful students. Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following textbooks: Kershaw, S.P.,A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths (London, Robinson, 2007) ISBN 1-84529-512-7 (published in the USA by Carol & Graf, ISBN-13: 978-0-78672-069-9). March, J., Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology. (London, Cassell, 2001, paperback edition), ISBN: 0-304-35788-X. OR Kershaw, S.P., Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology (London, Penguin, 1991) ISBN: 01405123559

Teaching methods

- Guided reading of texts
- Group discussions of particular issues
- Questions to be answered in personal folders

Teaching outcomes

By the end of the course you will:
• Have a general overview of some of the major Greek myths, along with the culture of the world of of the Greeks gained through a variety of types of literary and archaeological evidence;
• Have grasped the nature of the evidence pertaining to Greek myths and the problems of interpretating this;
• Have developed an awareness of the differences and similarities between the ancient Greek civilisation and our own, and of the influence of Greek mythological tradition

By the end of the course you will have gained the following skills:
• The ability to assess the context and importance of varying types of evidence
• An ability to think laterally across a range of issues, to see how different types of evidence interrelate, and to have an awareness of the potential diversity of response to any given problem
• The facility critically to discuss issues and evidence in a clear, balanced, and effective manner

Fee options

Programme Fee
Home/EU Fee: £245.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00

Apply for this course

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to pay `Home/EU` or `Non-EU/overseas` fees, please read the UKCISA guidance notes to help establish your fee status.

You can apply for this course in the following ways:

Apply online
enrol onlineto secure your place on this course now
Apply by post, email or fax
Download a PDF application form PDF document.

Terms and Conditions, Student Contract.

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