Domination and Resistance in Roman Britain (CLA3054)

StaffProfessor Martin Pitts - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesThe successful completion of at least 90 credits at Level 2.
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to examine the effects of Roman imperialism using a combination of archaeological and textual approaches, in order to illuminate the varying experiences of human life on the island from Caesar's incursions of the first century BC to the cessation of Roman control in AD 410. Overall the module encourages critical thinking on the role of material culture in understanding an ancient society for which comparatively little written evidence survives. Topics include the impact of the Augustan cultural revolution in pre-conquest Britain, invasion and revolt, the spread of literacy and civilised life, urban hinterlands, architecture and the social use of space, frontier policy and Hadrian’s Wall, eating and drinking, dress and identity, death and burial, and Christianity and paganism.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a knowledge of a wide selection of relevant primary material from Roman Britain and the ancient world (particularly material culture in excavation reports and secondary literature), and the development of critical skills for the analysis and discussion of such material to address wider issues of historical and social interest

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 2. Demonstrate a critical ability in assessing published literature

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 3. Use, analyse and critically evaluate material evidence as a major source for understanding Roman Britain
  • 4. Develop advanced academic and library skills
  • 5. Develop independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to select and organise relevant material
  • 7. Present a strong argument in oral and written form
  • 8. Develop confidence and clarity in oral communication and through use of PowerPoint presentations
  • 9. Work and discuss issues in a peer group

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Term 1:

  • Introduction                                                                        
  • Caesar and pre-Roman Britain                                          
  • Clientage and the age of Augustus                                   
  • Invasion and revolt: historical events                                             
  • Britain's first urban landscapes                                          
  • Connectivity and regionality                                                          
  • Developed urban landscapes                                                        
  • Domestic space and architecture                                      
  • The early Romano-British economy                                             
  • Roman frontier policy and Hadrian's Wall                                   
  • Town and country                        

Term 2:

  • The rural economy                                                           
  • Eating and drinking                                                           
  • Ritual and religion                                                             
  • Death and burial                                                                
  • Provincial identities 1: dress and cultural practice            
  • Provincial identities 2: migration and inequality                
  • The late Romano-British economy                                   
  • Late Romano-British art and architecture
  • Christianity in late Roman Britain                                     
  • The End of Roman Britain                                                          
  • Revision

1)     Close study of primary texts and excavation reports and of secondary material both individually outside class and in class;

2)     whole group seminars, including discussions and debates arising;

3)     individual research and written assignments building on seminar work;

4)     individual seminar-presentations.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching441 x 2 hour seminar per week
Guided independent study256Private study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1203000 words1-7Mark and written comments
Essay 2203000 words1-7Mark and written comments
Examination403 hours1-7Mark and written comments
Two presentations2015-20 minutes1-9Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-7Referral/Deferral period
Oral presentationsTBC1-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Braund, D. 1996. Ruling Roman Britain. Kings, Queens, Governors and Emperors from Julius Caesar to Agricola. London: Routledge.
  • Creighton, J. 2000. Coins and power in late Iron Age Britain. CUP.
  • Creighton, J. 2006. Britannia. Routledge.
  • Ireland, S. 1996. Roman Britain. A sourcebook. Routledge.
  • James, S, and M. Millett, eds. 2001. Britons and Romans: advancing an archaeological agenda. York: Council for British Archaeology Research Report 125.
  • Jones, B, and D.J Mattingly. 1990. An atlas of Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxbow.
  • Mattingly, D.J. 2006. An imperial possession. Britain in the Roman empire. London: Penguin.
  • Millett, M. 1990. The Romanization of Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Reece, R. 1988. My Roman Britain. Cirencester: Cotswold Studies

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Key words search

Roman, Britain, Domination, Resistance