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Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

4 weeks / 6 hours per week

About This Course

It covers all of the substantive material that is usually taught in the first semester in Western civilization. Our goal as creators of this course is to prepare you to pass the College Board's CLEP examination and obtain college credit for free.

Through the guidance of Dr. David D. Flaten, professor of Western Civilization in the SUNY University System, this course will review the civilizations of Ancient Greece, Rome, and the Near East; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance and Reformation; and early modern Europe.

"Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648" is a completely self-paced course. It has no prerequisites and it is offered entirely for free.

Course Staff


How is this course organized?

This course is organized into six major modules that contain short video lessons, exercises and reading.

All of the course material has been released at once so you can complete it anytime.

What do I need to pass the CLEP exam?

You need to demonstrate an understanding on important factual knowledge of developments in Western civilization as well as the ability to identify the causes and effects of major historical events and reach conclusions on the basis of facts.

The exam contains approximately 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Please examine our syllabus.

How does this course differ from other CLEP textbooks and traditional courses?

This online course includes a carefully structured series of video lectures, exercises, readings and interactive resources taught by a top quality university professor.




Navigating Through Our Platform

CLEP Program   

Modern States Education Alliance   

Introduce Yourself

1. Pre-History: Early Civilizations

1.0 Introduction to Pre-History: Early Civilizations   

1.1 Pre-History: Stone, Neolithic, Bronze, Iron Ages   

1.2 Early Empires in Mesopotamia (the Middle East)   

1.3 Hammurabi's Law Code   

1.4 Religion, Society and Literacy   

1.5 Ancient Egypt: Pharaoh and the Nile   

1.6 The Hebrews: Rise of Israel and Judah   

1.7 Phoenicians, Assyrians and Persians   

1.8 Readings

2. Greece and its Legacy

2.0 Introduction to Greece and its Legacy   

2.1 Early Greece: Minoan and Mycenaean Civilizations   

2.2 The Polis: Sparta   

2.3 The Polis: Athens   

2.4 The Persian Wars to 479 BCE   

2.5 The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BCE   

2.6 The Golden Age of Athens   

2.7 Philosophy and Religion   

2.8 Macedonian Hegemony: Barbarian Unity   

2.9 Campaigns of Alexander the Great   

2.10 The Spread of Hellenistic Culture   

2.11 Stoicism, Skepticism, Epicureanism   

2.12 Readings

3. Rome: Republic to Empire

3.0 Introduction to Rome: Republic to Empire   

3.1 Foundational Elements of Roman Society: Power of Tradition   

3.2 Roman Organizational Genius   

3.3 Government and Law in the Republic   

3.4 The Punic Wars: 264-146 B.C.E   

3.5 Socio-Economic Trends of Imperialism   

3.6 Decline of the Republic   

3.7 The Principate of Augustus Caesar   

3.8 Imperial Prosperity: Too Many Frontiers   

3.9 Diocletian and Constantine   

3.10 The Invasions and Challenge of Christianity   

3.11 Church Fathers: Jerome and Augustine   

3.12 Readings

4. Development of Medieval Europe

4.0 Introduction to Development of Medieval Europe   

4.1 Byzantine Empire   

4.2 Muhammad and the Spread of Islam   

4.3 Sunni/Shia Schism and Caliphates   

4.4 Charlemagne and Empire   

4.5 Invaders, Raiders and Feudal Development   

4.6 Agriculture, Trade and the Rise of Cities   

4.7 Universities, Theology, Philosophy and the Arts   

4.8 William of Normandy and the English Model   

4.9 Papal Monarchy   

4.10 Crusade Mentality, Reconquest of Iberia   

4.11 Magna Carta as Game Changer   

4.12 Mongols and Muscovy   

4.13 Black Death   

4.14 Socio-Economic Impact of the Black Death   

4.15 The 100 Years' War   

4.16 Impact of War   

4.17 The Papal Schism   

4.18 Europe in the Late Middle Ages   

4.19 Readings

5. Renaissance and Reformation

5.0 Introduction to Renaissance and Reformation   

5.1 Early Renaissance: Humanism and Classicism   

5.2 Art and Patronage Perspectives   

5.3 The Ottoman Empire Challenges Europe   

5.4 Machiavelli: Political Norms, Government   

5.5 Christian Humanism in Northern Europe   

5.6 Consolidation of National Monarchies: England, France, Iberia   

5.7 Reform of Christian Practice: Luther and Calvin   

5.8 The Religious Reorganization of Europe   

5.9 The English Change of Religious Models   

5.10 Roman Catholicism and Council of Trent   

5.11 Readings

6. Early Modern Europe

6.0 Introduction to Early Modern Europe   

6.1 Portugal: Prince Henry and Marco Polo   

6.2 Columbus & the New World   

6.3 Exploring, Settling, Exploiting the New World   

6.4 Cortes & Pizarro vs. de Las Casas   

6.5 Imperialism, Atlantic Trade & Slavery   

6.6 30 Years' War, 1618-1648: Winners & Losers   

6.7 England: 1603-1648   

6.8 Rise of Absolutism in France & Russia to 1648   

6.9 Intellectual Developments: Science to 1648   

6.10 Readings

Sample CLEP Questions

Questions 1 - 15

Questions 16 - 30

Questions 31 - 45

Questions 46 - 60

Questions 61 - 75

Questions 76 - 90

Final Steps

Prof. David D. Flaten's Recommendation   

Register for the CLEP Exam   

Test Preparation Tips   

How Your Score Is Computed

Learn More