Minoans: The First European Civilisation

Course details

From £205.00
10 CATS points

03 Oct 2018 - 05 Dec 2018
Day of week

Minoans: The First European Civilisation


The Minoans, a vibrant and prosperous civilisation, flourished in Crete in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. They are considered by many as the first European civilisation, being a substantial artistic, trading and religious force in the prehistoric Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. However, much remains to be discovered, as many written records have not yet been deciphered.

Join us as we examine this fascinating piece of (pre)history from a theoretical and practical perspective through the use of substantial visual materials, including some documentary footage and interactive exercises. You will learn how to critically engage with a past civilisation, its sources and interpretations, as well as to develop your research skills. You will complete a workbook to demonstrate your evolving knowledge. We will also hold one museum session in week 8.

Programme details

Term Starts: 3rd October

Week 1:          Introduction to archaeology and the Minoans

Week 2:          Ceramics

Week 3:          Architecture, Frescoes and other arts

Week 4:          Religion: divinities, sanctuaries, rituals

Week 5:          Production, Economy, Exchange

Week 6:          Society, Diet and Everyday Life

Week 7:          External Relations: trade, migration, colonisation

Week 8:          Museum visit

Week 9:          Interpretations of the Minoan Civilisation: where is the Labyrinth?

Week 10:        The Minoans and their reception


Background Reading

Fitton, J.L., Minoans (London: The British Museum Press, Peoples of the Past, 2002).

Vasilakis, A., Minoan Crete, From Myth to History (Adam Editions 1999).

Betancourt, P.P.,  Introduction to Aegean Art (INSTAP Academic Press, 2007).

Shelmerdine C. (ed),, The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age, (CUP, 2008)

If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September and we will try to ensure that as many titles as possible are available in the Library by the start of each term. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Course fee: £205.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw

Dr. Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw is an Aegean Bronze Age archaeologist. She lectures in Archaeology at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, among other institutions. She is also affiliated with Durham University and Humboldt University in Berlin.

Course aims

To provide students with introductory knowledge about the Minoan civilisation, to cultivate their critical interpretative skills when examining the past, and to whet their intellectual appetite for further involvement with archaeology.

Course Objectives 

1.            analyse the most important facets of the Minoan Civilisation, using concrete archaeological examples;

2.             explore the artistic, social and other characteristics of Minoan societies;

3.             enable students to critically approach a prehistoric society through material culture.

Teaching methods

A variety of teaching and learning methods will be used, taking into consideration students' different learning styles and individual needs. We will use tutor presentations and explanations, substantial visual material and handouts, some documentary footage and extensive discussion. Group presentations will be opportunities when main topics will be analysed by different teams. We will enact theoretical and practical situations. There will be the opportuntity of on-site learning during a museum visit in session 8.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

A) recognise and effectively describe aspects of Minoan material culture (e.g. pottery, architecture, frescoes etc.)

B) interpret and analyse aspects of the Minoan civilisation in their wider social, political, economic and spiritual context.

C) evaluate different datasets and interpretations about the Minoan civilisation, using acquired knowledge, observation and critical skills.

Assessment methods

The official OUDCE assessment guidelines for weekly coures stipulate that "Students may be expected to do a number of short pieces of coursework, which will constitute, when complete, a portfolio of c. 1,500 words, or equivalent, per term (Option A).  Alternatively, where the students and the tutor so wish, students may be expected to complete a single project equating to 1,500 words or equivalent (Option B) [...] Students doing Option A coursework may also complete one or more additional, informally assessed pieces of coursework, to enable them to benefit from the tutor feedback before attempting the formally assessed components of the portfolio [...] Where a tutor is setting a single project as the means of assessment (Option B), it is required that students submit a plan, set of notes, or first draft of the assignment, of up to 500 words in total, before the end of the course. "

For this course, all students will be given a workbook at the first session (Option A). This will contain 5 questions and guiding material, the answers for which will become apparent as we progress through the course. Students will be expected to draw on both what is covered in class and on their private study, reflection and museum visit(s). They will be expected to demonstrate their progression and development by completing the workbook and handing it in by the last session. The entire length of the answers should be approximately 1500 words, i.e. about 250 words for each answer. 

In the case of students who are unable to complete the workbook (e.g. who feel their learning styles are not compatible), the tutor will be flexible in accommodating other ways of equivalent written assessment (Option B). Additional coursework, if a student wishes to produce it, will be very welcome. However, students's attention is drawn to the fact that the word limit for assessed coursework is limited to 1,500 words and any work exceeding this cannot be marked.

Student progress will also be evaluated on the basis of analysis, collaboration, organisation and knowledge, as demonstrated during class activities.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)