This professional development course for ancient history teachers closely relates to VCE Units 1 to 4 of the Ancient History Study Design.

This professional development course for ancient history teachers closely relates to VCE Units 1 to 4 of the Ancient History Study Design. In the first session John Whitehouse from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education will present on historical thinking and assessment in teaching ancient history. Each week eminent scholars from the Faculty of Arts will present key areas of study including Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, exploring and developing historical skills, historical thinking and highlight a selection of appropriate primary source materials and historical interpretations.

Before the commencement of the program there will be an online forum (Learning Management System) to enable registered participants to access sample scholarly articles and support material. These resources, plus the lecture, will form the basis for discussions.

Professional Certificates of participation will be offered upon completion of the course and VIT applicable.


Thursdays 1-29 March, 6 - 8.15pm

Thursday 1 March: UNIT 1 Historical Thinking and Assessment in VCE Ancient History: John Whitehouse
Ancient Mesopotamia: Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson
Thursday 8 March: UNITS 2 - 4 Ancient Egypt: Dr Brent Davis
Thursday 15 March: UNIT 2 Ancient China: Dr Lewis Mayo
Thursday 22 March: UNITS 3 and 4 Ancient Greece: Dr Hyun Jin Kim
Thursday 29 March: VCE UNITS 3 and 4 Ancient Rome: Professor Tim Parkin and Dr Gijs Tol


Individual session: $60
Series pass: $250

Light refreshments provided, (GST inclusive)


Arts West (Building 148), the University of Melbourne, Parkville

Session overview

Historical Thinking and Assessment in VCE Ancient History
The VCE History Study Design invites students to use a range of concepts to engage in historical inquiry and argument. Students ask historical questions, establish historical significance, use sources as evidence, identify continuity and change, analyse cause and consequence, explore historical perspectives, examine the ethical dimensions of history, and construct historical arguments. What are the implications for assessment in Unit 1? Students complete two tasks from a list of four: a historical inquiry, an analysis of primary sources, an analysis of historical interpretations, and an essay. How might historical thinking concepts may be addressed through each of these tasks?

Ancient Mesopotamia
Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, is one of the most historically significant and archaeologically rich regions in the world. The Mesopotamians are credited with many inventions: urbanisation, astronomy, mathematics, irrigation, agricultural developments, animal husbandry and writing. The surviving texts and inscriptions, combined with the abundant artefacts recovered from decades of excavation, provide a wealth of material enabling historians and archaeologists to reconstruct Mesopotamia’s past. In addition to outlining key characteristics and resources associated with the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires, the presentation this year (2018) will focus on the following two knowledge areas of study design: 1. the development of writing, its use in trade and managing revenue in the (re)distribution of resources and the ensuing rise of societies with complex hierarchies 2. the rise of the Assyrian Empire, including political changes during the reigns of Assurnarsirpal II and Tiglath-Pileser III

Ancient Egypt - Egyptian Religious Art and Architecture
In this module, we will explore the characteristics of the art and architecture of Egyptian tombs and temples. The art from tombs and temples tells us much of what we know about the nature of Egyptian royalty, and how the royals promoted themselves and their power to the people of Egypt; but it also tells us much about the lives of the non-royal elite, and of the common folk who made up the majority of Egyptian society. The architecture of tombs and temples, on the other hand, reflects Egyptian religious beliefs in a way that is truly ‘set in stone’. Picking apart the features of this architecture helps reveal what the Egyptians actually believed and how they actually thought about their world.

Anceint China - Religious Power and Military Power in the Making of Empire in Rome and Ancient China
The Terracotta Warriors which guard the tomb of the first Qin Emperor, Qin Shihuang, convey a strong impression of the appearance of empire in China as a product of military force and governmental discipline. Yet they are objects that serve no secular purpose - they are there to guard the emperor in the afterlife, and in this sense can be understood as emanations of a religious system, and they remind us that Chinese emperors were figures whose power had a non-secular, heavenly source. This session will examine the relationship between secular power - and above all military power - and religious ideas and practices in the emergence of an imperial system in Ancient China, and it will compare this with the transition to empire in the Roman context. Noting that intellectuals in China have recently questioned the applicability of the idea of empire to dynastic Chinese states, the session will also explore how much cultural and organizational commonality and how much divergence there was between the various large-scale states in different parts of Ancient Eurasia. A key reference work will be Mark Edward Lewis’s 2007 volume The Early Empires: Qin and Han.

Ancient Greece
This session will firstly broadly discuss the socio-political and economic features of Archaic Greece (from ca. 800 BC-479 BC). This will include coverage of the development of Athens and Sparta, and the establishment of tyrannies, oligarchies and democracies throughout Greece. The institution of slavery and the impact of Persia on Greece will also receive coverage. This will then be followed by discussion of the Classical Period of Greek history up to 454 BC: the growth of the Athenian controlled Delian league; the causes and impact of the subsequent Peloponnesian War; and the development of historiography which has affected our understanding of Greek History (Herodotus and Thucydides).

Ancient Rome - Living in republican Rome
The dramatic political and military changes Rome experienced over the long years of its history as a republic (ca. 509-31 BC) also led to huge economic and social transformations. Our aim in this session is to explore these aspects in terms of the realities of life: what was it actually like to live during this period? We shall focus on the city of Rome and consider a wide range of types of evidence, both literary and material, in an attempt to reconstruct what life was like and how life changed as Rome’s empire and Romans’ perceptions of their place in their world expanded. We shall look at the topography of the city – what did Rome look like, how did it change, and how did it feel to live there? – and at Romans’ lived experience, especially at the ‘private’ and individual level, from a range of perspectives – for it mattered a good deal whether you were citizen or non-citizen, slave or free, male or female, young or old, rich or poor. We shall also talk a little about toilets.


Dr Brent Davis completed his PhD in 2011 at the University of Melbourne, where he now teaches Ancient Egyptian, after receiving his undergraduate degree in Linguistics from Stanford University. With a background in both archaeology and linguistics, his interests include not only the cultures of the ancient eastern Mediterranean, but their languages as well. His recent works include an influential monograph on Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions (Peeters 2014), as well as numerous articles and chapters on ancient cultures and scripts, and on archaeological theory.

Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson, Classics and Archaeology lecturer in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, has worked on excavations in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In 2014 he was invited to represent Australia on an international committee for Safeguarding and Protection of Syrian Heritage. He has more than 80 publications to his credit, is the editor of the academic journal Ancient Near Eastern Studies, the recipient of numerous research grants, presented many keynote or invited lectures, and curated 22 exhibitions in the Classics and Archaeology galley at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. In 2015 Andrew won the prestigious Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence.

Dr Lewis Mayo was born and educated in New Zealand. He studied Southeast Asian and Chinese history and the history of late antique and medieval Europe at the University of Auckland, before going on to Peking University to study medieval Chinese history. He continued his studies of Chinese medieval history at the University of Hawaii focusing on the legal and social history of the Song dynasty, while also studying Qing and Han dynasty history, Buddhism, Southeast Asian and Islamic History. His PhD, undertaken at the Australian National University, was a political history of birds in the oasis of Dunhuang in the Chinese-Inner Asian borderlands between the 9th and 11th centuries. In recent years, his work on medieval Chinese and Inner Eurasian history has been supplemented by work on Pacific and Asian history, with a particular focus on creole and settler cultures and the problem of feudalism.

Dr Hyun Jin Kim is Senior Lecturer in Classics in the discipline of Classics and Archaeology, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS), the University of Melbourne. He took his DPhil in Classical Languages and Literature from the University of Oxford, UK. His areas of specialisation include Greek historiography; Greek and Roman ethnography; Greeks and Barbarians; Greece and China comparative studies; and Late Antiquity. He is the author of: Ethnicity and Foreigners in Ancient Greece and China (Duckworth, 2009) and The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Professor Tim Parkin joined the Classics and Archaeology program at the University of Melbourne in 2018 as the inaugural Elizabeth and James Tatoulis Chair in Classics. Before this he had spent eleven years as Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester (UK). He is a New Zealander by birth who was awarded a DPhil at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and who, since 1989, has worked in universities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, as well as spending 14 months in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt research fellow. Tim's teaching covers both Greek and Roman history and classical languages. His main research is in ancient history, particularly Roman social, cultural, and demographic history. Among his publications are Demography and Roman Society (1992), Old Age in the Roman World: A Social and Cultural History (2003), Roman Social History: A Source book (2007), and The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World (2014). He is currently working on ancient sexual health, in particular sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr Gijs Tol is employed as a Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Melbourne since 2016. He obtained his PhD from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 2012, and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the Netherlands and Italy (La Sapienza University, Rome). His main research interests are Roman period economic networks and settlement dynamics. He currently leads landscape archaeological fieldwork in the Pontine Plain (southern Lazio, Italy), investigating the role of nucleated rural settlements in local and regional economies and co-directs excavations at the multi-craft production site of Podere Marzuolo in Tuscany. His most recent publications include 'An integrated approach to the study of local production an exchange in the lower Pontine Plain' (Journal of Roman Archaeology 29, 2016) and a co-edited volume titled Rural communities in a globalizing economy: new perspectives on the economic integration of Roman Italy (Brill, 2017).

John Whitehouse is Lecturer in History/Humanities in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. A Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, he is the recipient of the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence (the University of Melbourne) and a national Award for Teaching Excellence (Australian Learning and Teaching Council). His research interests include discipline-based pedagogy in history, curriculum studies and historiography. He is international consulting editor for Learning and Teaching. His work appears in leading publications such as Educational Practice and Theory and Springer’s International Handbook of Research on Teachers and Teaching.

Program flyer