The World of Late Antiquity (CLA3108)

StaffDr Richard Flower - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The course will provide students with an understanding of the history of the later Roman empire from a variety of different approaches, concentrating on two central historical themes during this period: the rise of Christianity as a significant religious and cultural movement in the ancient world; and the emergence of barbarian groups, in particular the Goths, who played a role in the collapse of the western Roman Empire and its transformation into early medieval kingdoms. The seminars are designed to help the students develop a real depth of understanding about this period by reading and discussing both ancient material and modern scholarship, as well as by giving presentations to the group on their own interpretations of late-antique history.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Knowledge and critical understanding of the main sources for the period, including the ability to interpret differing approaches to the writing of history, especially as part of the development of Christianity, and the creation of new systems of cultural values that engaged with, transformed and, on occasions, conflicted with traditional, Greco-Roman society.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 2. Students will develop their skills at reading, and reading between the lines of, sophisticated texts. They should be able to analyse the ways in which the representation of historical reality is conditioned by the various standpoints of the writers of texts and of the audiences/readership for which they were intended. They should grasp the impact of a radical change in ideology on social and political behaviour
  • 3. Analysing the ways in which the representation of historical reality is conditioned by the various standpoints of the writers of texts and of the audiences/readership for which they were intended.
  • 4. Grasping the impact of radical (re)definitions of ideologies on social and political discourse and behaviour.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Developing analytical reading skills of different (and sometimes overlapping) types of text and identifying and pursuing the implications of their most significant characteristics.
  • 6. Producing concise, accurately documented and cogently argued discussions of complex issues in written form.
  • 7. Presenting complex ideas lucidly in oral discussion.
  • 8. Criticising and evaluating conflicting modern theories relating to the subject matter being studied.

Syllabus plan

The module will include some seminars which are defined around key events/periods within its chronological span (e.g. the Tetrarchy, the conversion of Constantine, the reign of Julian, ‘barbarian invasions’, the sack of Rome, the end of the western empire, the Justinianic reconquest). These seminars will be placed in the schedule at appropriate places, in order to give a chronological spine to the course. The other seminars will be thematic, incorporating a range of topics (such as the transition from ‘Principate’ to ‘Dominate’, changes to late Roman government, interactions between paganism and Christianity, transformations of urban landscapes, heresy and schism, economic change/decline, ‘barbarians’ and ethnicity, new literary genres, social shifts, the impact of ‘Christianisation’, competing historiographical grand narratives, the birth of medieval/Byzantine Europe).

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 teaching activities44Seminars (22 x 2 hours)
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
Two Presentations2015-20 mins1-8Mark, written and verbal feedback
Essay303000 words1-8Mark, written and verbal feedback
Exam503 hours1-8Mark, written and verbal feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Ref/def period
ExamExam1-8Ref/def period
PresentationsTranscript of the presentation that would have been given with accompanying hand-out and/or visual aid1-8

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Averil Cameron,  The Later Roman Empire , 1993.

Averil Cameron,  The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity, AD 395-700 , 2nd edn, 2012.

S. F. Johnson, The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity , 2012.

S. Mitchell,  A History of the Later Roman Empire, AD 284-641 , 2nd edn, 2014.

P. Rousseau (ed.),  A Companion to Late Antiquity , 2009. 

A. H. M. Jones,  The Later Roman Empire , 1964. 

G. Halsall,  Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 , 2007. 

Volumes XII, XIII and XIV of the  Cambridge Ancient History , 2005, 1998, 2000.

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