Classical Studies in the Learning and Teaching Support Network

Lorna Hardwick

The Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) has twenty-four subject centres based in higher education institutions throughout the UK. It is funded by the four HE funding bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and aims to promote high quality learning and teaching through the development and dissemination of good practice in all subject disciplines. In addition to the subject centres' focus on subject expertise, LTSN will also offer generic support on learning and teaching issues that cross subject boundaries through a Generic Learning and Teaching Centre based in York. The LTSN as a whole is managed by an Executive based within the Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT) in York. The LTSN's core activities are in setting up, supporting and developing learning and teaching networks; promoting and sharing good practices in learning, teaching and assessment; facilitating exchange of knowledge and experience between users, experts, developers and innovators. It should also be noted that the LTSN does not produce courses or study packs.

The subject centres

The twenty four subject centres are a mix of single site and consortium-based centres, all located within relevant subject departments and hosted by HE institutions. The subject focus results from the recognition that for many staff in HE it is at subject level where most networking and exchange of learning, teaching and assessment practice takes place. Funding to support the subject centres is in place for three years with probable extension to five so it is possible to think in the medium term as well as in the short term.

Classical Studies

Classical Studies (which covers Classics and Ancient History) is part of a partnership centre - History, Classics and Archaeology, hosted by the University of Glasgow. The work in (Modern) History is based at the universities of Nottingham and Bath Spa.

Archaeology is at Leicester and Classical Studies at the Open University. The Subject Directors of the partner subjects meet regularly to discuss progress, future plans and possible areas of co-operation (to say nothing of completing the extensive documentation required by LTSN's accountability procedures). History, Classics and Archaeology share a regular Newsletter and a web site, managed by the Centre's IT Co- ordinator Dr Sonja Cameron. Sonja is very willing to visit departments and groups to discuss IT issues in learning and teaching (


Classical Studies has a team of three academics, Dr Lorna Hardwick (Subject Director), Dr Dominic Montserrat and David Fitzpatrick. The last two have been in post since August. Lorna and Dominic are permanent members of the Classical Studies department at the OU and have been seconded for part of their time. David has been appointed as Project Officer and will have particular responsibility for organising communications and conferences, organisation of support for networks and managing the publications of Briefing Papers, L and T bibliographies and Reviews (all of which will be available in paper copy and on the web site). Dominic's main role will be to develop initiatives in Classical languages learning and teaching . and to design workshops in consultation with departments and groups. Lorna is particularly interested in responses to the changing environment underlying curriculum design and learning and teaching strategies and also in ways of developing creative synergy between teaching and research. All the subject centre staff will be glad to respond to queries from individuals as well as to visit groups or departments (contact details are given below).

Advisory Panels

The work of the subject centres is also supported by advisory panels, which have been set up for each of the subjects. Panels meet approximately twice a year, supplemented by other contacts as needed. Notes of the discussions at meetings will be published on the web site. The [Panel for Classical Studies includes representatives of subject associations as well as individuals drawn from a variety of institutions and specialisms. The current membership of the Classical Studies Advisory Panel is:

Mr. C. Annis (ICS and Joint Library of the Hellenic and Roman Societies); Dr. E. Dench (Birkbeck); Prof. P. E. Easterling (Cambridge and Chair JACT Greek Committee); Prof. L. Foxhall (Leicester and Hellenic Society); Dr. L. Fotheringham (Nottingham); Ms. S. Knights (Filton College and Chair JACT Latin Committee); Mr. R. W. Lister (Cambridge Dept of Education); Dr. E. Pender (Leeds); Mrs. C. Roueche (KCL); Prof. R. W. Sharples (UCL and CUCD); Prof. M. R. Wright (Lampeter); Prof. G. Woolf (St Andrews); Dr. V. Zajko (Bristol). It is also hoped to appoint a postgraduate teaching assistant as a member.

Consultation/Needs Analysis

The subject centres are now moving from the set-up phase to become operational. During the set-up phase, Lorna Hardwick has been consulting widely with colleagues in a number of institutions and thanks are due to them for their generosity with time and ideas. Within the limits of budget and terms of reference it is important to establish priorities which take account of immediate needs and also to allow room for strategic initiatives which can support the subject community's development in key areas.

A Needs Analysis Questionnaire was send out in June to departments of History, Classics and Archaeology and to Cambridge and Oxford Colleges (if you have not yet returned your copy, please do so soon). By the end of July, 439 responses had been received across the three subjects, 119 of which were from Classics/Ancient History. Analysis is still in progress but some general points have been drawn out:

Across all three subjects respondents expressed interest in developing computer / web-based learning; in developing teaching in non-traditional ways (such as group work); in developing a wide range of approaches to assessment; in using the subject centre as a source of information, especially relating to the Internet and to innovations in L and T. There was marked lack of interest in research into learning and teaching (which suggests that traditional forms of educational research are not well regarded).

Responses from Classicists and Ancient Historians indicated that language learning for beginners (both Greek and Latin) was seen as a priority. There were also sign)ficant expressions of interest in developing methods of assessment of students' oral presentations; locating high quality material on the Internet; reviews of web and computing resources; developing students' study skills; encouraging active learning; learning by dissertation; teaching through translation. These preferences will guide our forward planning. It was also encouraging to see a number of offers to review L and T materials, to contribute to practitioner networks and to serve as departmental contacts (more of these last needed please).

Programme of Activities

A subject centre Colloquium on Classical Language teaching in universities is to be held on Thursday January 4th at Milton Keynes. Panels will include a wide variety of short presentations on practical aspects with plenty of time for discussion. Examples of offers received to date include: motivating language students; supporting weaker students; new approaches to grammar; strategies for post- beginners; web-based support materials; Latin on the web; recent developments in schools. A Briefing Paper will be available after the Colloquium. It is also hoped to support a network to take forward work on priorities identified in the discussions. All those who are involved in teaching Classical languages in HE are welcome to attend the Colloquium (further details from David Fitzpatrick).

Subject centre staff will be pleased to contribute to department staff development days by arrangement or to offer half day workshops on particular areas of learning and teaching in Classical Studies. All workshops will be subject orientated and will focus on the practicalities of working with students. We are also able to offer workshops for postgraduates who are about to start some teaching or have recently done so. Although we hope in the future to develop some regionally based workshops and seminars, at this stage we are particularly aware of the travel problems that may be experienced by colleagues in the more geographically remote departments and visits to those departments who request it will be a priority.

There is, of course, no intention to duplicate staff development provision already made in individual universities. Furthermore, we would like to emphasise that subject centre staff are in no sense 'trainers' but are professional colleagues.

There is a considerable amount of excellent teaching and learning practice which colleagues tell us they would like to have more widely disseminated, if they had the time and the means. The subject centre may be able to help with this and we would like to hear from those who would like to share their expertise and innovations with others (for example through authoring short Briefing Papers or Case Studies). Conference papers and panels are an important way of promoting debate. A panel on the implications of the changing environment for Classical Languages is being organised by the subject centre for the Classical Association Meeting in April 2001. New lecturers, part-time staff and graduate teaching assistants form a vital part of the subject community. Those interested in participating in workshops, contributing to Briefing Papers or joining an email discussion group are asked to contact us. We would particularly like to hear from people not yet in established posts or whose names do not appear in the CUCD booklet so that we can make sure everyone is informed of forthcoming events and has the opportunity to contribute.

Future Opportunities

We are currently considering ways in which the Briefing Paper format might be extended to include some web - based resources annotated for key L and T aspects, such as active learning, group learning etc. It is also possible that small R and D consultancies might be available for lecturers wishing to set up and evaluate L and T projects. Furthermore, modest financial support might be available to support networks of practitioners who wish to get together to discuss specific L and T issues in Classics and Ancient History. Please let us know if you are interested in any of these possibilities.


The Classical Studies part of the subject centre has been set up to be of and for its community. It is not an arm of QAA. Its ethos is collegial and facilitative, not directive or prescriptive. Our role is to provide support and to enable the dissemination of successful and interesting practices in learning and teaching. We would like to encourage debate and the exchange of ideas to the same level that is taken for granted in our research community. Do join with us.

Contact details: Dr Lorna Hardwick (, LTSN Subject Centre: Classical Studies, Department of Classical Studies, Arts Faculty, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA.

Dr Dominic Montserrat ( Address as above. David Fitzpatrick ( Address as above.

Lorna Hardwick (

Dept. of Classical Studies, The Open University

CUCD Bulletin 29 (2000)
© Lorna Hardwick 2000

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