Architecture in Roman Society (CLA3119)

StaffDr Christopher Siwicki - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value
NQF Level
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with a thorough and detailed knowledge of Roman architecture, its development through the Republican and Imperial periods, and its significance to understanding Roman society more widely. Students will develop their critical skills by engaging with a wide range of material and textual evidence, and it will encourage critical thinking about buildings in antiquity and today.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of a wide selection of relevant primary material from the ancient world, and demonstrate the development of critical skills for analysing and discussing such material.
  • 2. Provide a detailed understanding of Roman buildings in their social, cultural, and political contexts.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. To demonstrate sophisticated critical and analytical skills in analysing material and textual evidence, which can be applied to a wide range of ancient and modern cultures.
  • 4. Understand how the study of architecture and built environments enhances our understanding of past societies as well as the modern world.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Demonstrate the ability to research material and organise it into a coherent form within a strong argument.
  • 6. Show developed skills in critical analysis.
  • 7. Conduct independent research.
  • 8. Through work in seminars, deliver confident and well-argued oral performance, and to discuss issues with their peer group.

Syllabus plan

Topics covered by the module will include:

Republican architecture

Imperial architecture

The influence of Greek architecture in Rome


Roman architects

Architecture in literature

Buildings on coins

Buildings in art

Classical architecture in film

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 (1 x 2 hours per week)
Guided independent study256Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in group discussion in seminarsWeekly1-4,6-8Verbal feedback

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 1353000 words 1-7Mark and written feedback
Essay 2353000 words 1-7Mark and written feedback
In-class test term 1151 hour1-6Mark and written feedback
In-class test term 2151 hour1-6Mark and written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7August ref/def period
In-class testIn-class test1-6August ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

A full reading list will be supplied by the module lecturer in the form of a topic/class specific handout which will also be posted on the Web.  The following is a sample of some of the texts:

Adam, J. P. 1994. Roman Building: Materials and Techniques. Trans. A. Mathews (Bloomington).

Anderson, J. 1997. Roman Architecture and Society (Baltimore).

Boëthius, A. 1970. “Architecture in Italy before the Roman Empire,” in Etruscan and Roman Architecture, eds.A. Boëthius and J. Ward-Perkins (Harmondsworth). 3-180.

Delaine, J. 2000. “Building the Eternal City: The Building Industry of Imperial Rome,” in Ancient Rome: The Archaeology of the Eternal City, eds. J. Coulston and H. Dodge (Dublin), 119-141.

Lancaster, L. 2005a. Concrete Vaulted Construction in Imperial Rome: Innovations in Context (Cambridge). 

Lomas, K. 2003. “Public Building, Urban Renewal and Euergetism in Early Imperial Italy,” in Bread and Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy, eds. K. Lomas and T. Cornell (London), 28-45.

MacDonald, W. 1982. The Architecture of the Roman EmpireI (New Haven).

MacDonald, W. 1986. The Architecture of the Roman EmpireII (New Haven).

Rowland, I and Howe, T. 1999. Vitruvius Ten Books on Architecture (Cambridge).).

Stamper, J. 2005. The Architecture of Roman Temples: The Republic to Middle Empire (Cambridge).

Taylor, R. 2003. Roman Builders: A Study in Architectural Process (Cambridge).

Thomas, E. 2007. Monumentality and the Roman Empire. Architecture in the Antonine Age (Oxford).

Ulrich, R. and Quenemoen, C. 2014. A Companion to Roman Architecture (Hoboken).

Ward-Perkins, J. 1981. Roman Imperial Architecture (Harmondsworth).

Wilson Jones, M. 2000. Principles of Roman Architecture (New Haven).

Zanker, P. 2010. “By the Emperor, for the People: 'Popular' Architecture in Rome,” in The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation, and Ritual, eds. E. Björn and C NoreÅ?a (Cambridge).

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