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Local Schools

Through its outreach activities, the School of Classics has developed a close relationship with primary and secondary schools in Fife and beyond. We offer talks, organise events, and involve pupils and teachers in our research and teaching projects. We also provide resources, and promote the engagement of local schools with Classics through our involvement in Classics for All initiatives, our partnership with Advocating Classics Education, and our new creative writing competition.

Through a Glass Darkly schools programme

The Through a Glass Darkly research team, led by Dr Rebecca Sweetman, at the University of St Andrews works with the Bridges Collection, an archaeological collection from Cyprus, on a variety of research and outreach initiatives. Over the past year, they have developed a schools programme in conjunction with primary teachers that uses artefacts to engage students with cultural heritage and develop literacy and drama skills. Handling unfamiliar, archaeological material helps children express themselves freely, allowing for wide-ranging discussions with their peers.

In May 2019, they hosted a Literacy Day event that brought four primary schools from around Fife to participate in literacy, drama, and archaeological workshops (see below for details). The team has also visited schools to deliver tailored workshops on both topics and are offering workshop series this school year. Loan boxes are also available, as well as group and individual teacher training sessions. If you are interested in working with the project, please contact Leah Neiman at, or visit The Bridges Collection website.


Talks to schools

Staff in Classics regularly talk to primary and secondary school pupils about the ancient world, its history and archaeology, literatures and cultures. Here are a few examples of the topics we offer:

  • Ancient and modern political ideas: community, citizenship, leadership (Jon Hesk)
  • Ancient explorers (Alice König)
  • Ancient rhetoric (Jon Hesk)
  • Athenian democracy and politics (Jon Hesk)
  • Castles (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • Classical myth and its reception (Sophie Schoess)
  • Greek drama (Jon Hesk)
  • Homeric epic (Jon Hesk)
  • Introduction to archaeology (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • Late antique emperors: Diocletian, Constantine, Theodosius (Roger Rees)
  • Mountains in ancient Greek and Roman culture (Jason König)
  • Ovid (Emma Buckley)
  • Philosophy in the ancient world (Alex Long)
  • Roman drama (Emma Buckley)
  • Roman epic (Emma Buckley)
  • Seneca (Emma Buckley)
  • Sisters in antiquity (Nikoletta Manioti)
  • Ted Hughes (Roger Rees)
  • The ancient and modern Olympics (Jason König)
  • The ancient novel (Jason König)
  • The Greeks (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • The Romans (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • Virgil (Emma Buckley)

We could also speak to your school about any other aspect of the ancient world, whether part of the curriculum or not. If you are interested, please contact the Outreach Officer, Nikoletta Manioti.

See also the Royal Society of Edinburgh Schools Talks programme for 2019/20 featuring Alice König.

  • ‘Ancient Egypt’ (Carlos Machado)
  • ‘Ancient explorers’ (Alice König)
  • ‘Ancient Greeks and archaeology’ study day (Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis)
  • ‘Ancient Rome’ (Carlos Machado)
  • ‘Archaeology and castles’ (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • ‘Greek and Roman children’ (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • ‘Greeks and Romans’ (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • ‘Living in a Roman house’ workshop (Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis)
  • ‘Pottery’ (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • ‘Pottery and archaeology’ (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • ‘The Olympics in Ancient Greece’ workshop (Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis)
  • ‘A Tale of Two Cities: Augustan and fascist Romes’ (Jon Coulston)
  • ‘Behind closed doors: What really happened in Greek temples’ (Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis)
  • ‘Choral work in Aeschylus’ Oresteia‘ practical workshop (Jon Hesk)
  • ‘Displaced people’ (Rebecca Sweetman)
  • ‘Hadrian’s Wall: The wall to end all walls?’ (Jon Coulston)
  • ‘Homer’s Odyssey: Vengeance, violence and the creation of suspense’ (Jon Hesk)
  • ‘Introduction to Greek theatre’ (Jon Hesk)
  • ‘Late antique art’ (Roger Rees)
  • ‘Many gods or one god? How did Roman religion really work?’ (Jon Coulston)
  • ‘Ovid and sexual politics’ (Emma Buckley)
  • ‘Ovid and the visual arts’ (Sophie Schoess)
  • ‘Ovid’s First Wives Club: Shared experience in the letters of Hypsipyle, Ariadne, and Phaedra’ (Sophie Schoess)
  • ‘Politics and gender conflict in Greek drama’ (Jon Hesk)
  • ‘Prayer and the afterlife in ancient philosophy’ (Alex Long)
  • ‘Punishing Pentheus: Revisiting a Theban myth’ (Sophie Schoess)
  • ‘Reconstructing the Roman army in Northern Britain’ (Jon Coulston)
  • ‘Religion in ancient philosophy’ (Alex Long)
  • ‘Sophocles’ Antigone and ‘Leadership” (Jon Hesk)
  • ‘Telling Ariadne’s story through image and text’ (Sophie Schoess)
  • ‘The biography of a Classical Greek Vase’ (Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis)
  • ‘The origin of the European languages: A walk in the past’ (Juan Coderch)
  • ‘The rhetoric and politics of deliberation and decision-making in Athenian oratory and drama’ (Jon Hesk)
  • ‘Trajan’s Column within the Forum of Trajan in Rome’ (Jon Coulston)
  • ‘Virgil’ (Roger Rees)

Events for schools

We regularly organise and participate in events involving local schools. Recent examples include:

CPD sessions, November 2019

The Through a Glass Darkly project ran CPD sessions on teaching drama and literacy using the Bridges Collection. These were open to primary school teachers and took place in the Archaeology Room on the 13th, 19th and 22nd November. In each session teachers handled original artefacts and participated in literacy and drama activities.

Literacy Day, 31 May 2019

As part of Rebecca Sweetman‘s project Through a Glass Darkly: Perceptions of Art, Artefact and Context, we organised an event at the University of St Andrews to promote the theme of Literacy in the Curriculum for Excellence

Pupils from Crail, Denbeath, Falkland and St Agatha’s Primary Schools were offered a workshop by Dunbar-based poet Hannah Lavery before being split into groups for parallels sessions on archaeology (ran by Rebecca Sweetman, Eleri Cousins, Alison Hadfield and Nikoletta Manioti) and drama (ran by Stephen Jones, Jon Hesk, Eilidh Lawrence and Leah Neiman). We used items from the Bridges Collection as inspiration for pupils to come up with: a poem about a lost possession; the story behind a character who owned an ancient lamp; and descriptive words to recreate the shape of ancient objects on the page.

Menaechmi, 30 April 2019

As part of the activities of the Centre for the Public Understanding of Greek and Roman Drama, pupils from St Leonard’s, Dundee High, and Greyfriars were invited to The Byre Theatre for a performance of Menaechmi, a Roman comedy by Plautus directed and performed by 3rd and 4th year Classics students under the supervision of Giuseppe Pezzini.

See the CPUGRD’s Plautus Menaechmi page for more information about the play, a video from the school event, and the research project behind it.


Involving schools in our teaching

In April 2018, class P2/3 from Lawhead Primary School was invited to take part in a session titled ‘Marvellous Bodies in St Andrews’ which included a visit to St Andrews Cathedral and the Bell Pettigrew Museum; a second session, ‘Marvellous Bodies in Classical Greece’, took place in their classroom a week later. These were part of a new Honours module (Marvellous Bodies) designed and coordinated by Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis, which gave the pupils the opportunity to interact with and learn about marvels and monsters from our Honours students; the first activity also promoted the theme of locality in the Curriculum for Excellence.


Promoting Classics in Scotland

We are a partner of Advocating Classics Education (ACE) in Scotland. An ACE day is planned for the 11th March 2020 – more information will appear here in due course.

We are also supporting the activities of Classics for All and the Classical Association of Scotland. Most recently, Tom Harrison was involved in the organisation of the first Classical Association of Scotland Greek and Latin Summer School – see our Summer Schools page for more details.


Creative writing competition

Coming soon!