Migration and the Migrant Through Ancient and Modern Eyes (CLAM105)

StaffProfessor Elena Isayev - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim is to get students to think critically about human mobility, and to contextualize contemporary modes of thinking about it in a pre-nation state context. It will introduce students to different approaches to, and forms of, evidence about mobility -  who is counted and who is not, when is someone a foreigner -  and suggest that ‘migration’ is a relatively modern concept. We will work together to establish new frameworks of thinking about mobility and ways of writing history that begin from the routes and movements rather than from individuals or city-states. The aim is to consider mass movements as well as individual ones and ask who is the agent responsible for the movement and how and when state structures enhance or suppress them. We will discuss such debates as to whether the total number of movements in the last 200 years BC  in Italy was 2 million or 40 million, and whether the ancient comedian Plautus’s depiction of a constantly shifting world is based in reality. The question who does not move? is equally interesting as to who does. As such it will refocus attention on the shared aspects that communities over time and distance have in terms of mobility rather than concentrate on the dichotomy of the mobile and the sedentary.  The ancient world will provide an alternative model to that of the territorially bounded nation state, with which to think and challenge contemporary preconceptions, while drawing out long term trends and constructs.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a knowledge of a wide selection of relevant primary material from the ancient world
  • 2. Demonstrate a knowledge of the development of critical skills for analysis and discussion of such material
  • 3. Explore the meaning and development of key concepts in other chronological and geographic contexts
  • 4. Understand and apply critically contemporary migration theory to these contexts.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate sophisticated critical and analytical skills which can be applied to the analysis of material and other forms of evidence, including texts from any culture.
  • 6. Take historical examples and understand the impact of contemporary ideologies on its interpretation and in turn the way that historical discourse is used to underpin contemporary policy and perception.
  • 7. Examine and apply theoretical arguments and ideas; to form their own interpretation of primary and secondary texts and consider critically a range of possible interpretations;
  • 8. Examine the ideologies and values of another culture and to consider critically their bearing on your own life and culture.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Demonstrate an ability to empathize with the conceptual and ideological basis of an unfamiliar society.
  • 10. Examine the ideologies and values of another culture and to consider critically their bearing on your own life and culture.
  • 11. Demonstrate independent research skills, skills in the construction, organisation and presentation of arguments and verbal skills; through seminar presentations and discussion, students should be able to demonstrate confidence and clarity in oral communication and to use PowerPoint presentations; the ability to work in groups.
  • 12. Demonstrate confidence and clarity in oral communication and to use PowerPoint presentations; the ability to work independently and groups.
  • 13. Show initiative in seeking out alternative case studies and the necessary evidence against which their theoretical analysis can be tested

Syllabus plan

The course will cover a number of the following subjects – depending on the students’ interests:

• Migrant, Refugee, Exile, - Terms and Concepts (incl. Colonialism and Post-colonialism)

• Sedentarism and Nomadism - a useful dichotomy? Place, Space and territory

• Demographics and their use – eg where are the women?

• Institutions: Citizenship, resident alien, guest-friendship (Boundaries - natural and man made)

• Using a mobile population as a power tool

• Encouraging and Controlling migration - ancient and modern bordering practices

• Mass movements, deportations and individual choice

• Agency

• Movement as conflict resolution

• Explorers, merchants, craftsmen, and opportunists - The mobile world of Plautus – comedy and reality

• Migrants, Migration and the foreigner in literature and art

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 & Teaching activities15Intensive Seminar and Reading Group Teaching
Guided independent study135Students working independently & in groups in preparation for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Close study of primary texts and images and of secondary material both individually outside class and in class; whole group discussions and debates arising from these and designed to address issues more broadlyongoing1-12Verbal 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
Essay804000 words1-11, 13comments on essays both on the actual work and on response sheets. Individual discussions with students.
Oral Presentation2020 mins1-12Response sheets for presentations, and Individual discussions with students.

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-11, 13Refer/Defer period
PresentationEssay1-12Refer/Defer 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:

Primary Texts: eg: The Comedies of Plautus, Cicero’ Writings, especially De Legibus and The Letters, Polybius etc.

• Ahrweiler H. (1998) ‘Byzantine Concepts of the Foreigner: The case of the nomads’, in Ahrweiler H. and Laiou A.E. (eds.) Studies on the Internal Diaspora of the Byzantine Empire, Washington D.C. , 1-15.

• Brettell, C. B. and Hollifield, J. F. (eds) 2008. Migration theory: talking across disciplines. New York.

• Broadhead, W. 2004. ‘Rome and the mobility of the Latins’, in Moatti, C. (ed.) La Mobilité des personnes en Méditerranée de l’antiquitéà l’époque moderne. Rome., 315-335.

• Castles, S. and Miller, M. J. 2003 (3rd edition). The Age of Migration : international population movements in the modern world. Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan.

• Dench, E. 2005. Romulus’ Asylum. Roman Identities from the Age of Alexander to the Age of Hadrian. Oxford.

• De Ligt L. and Northwood S. J. (eds.) (2008) People, Land, and Politics: Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy 300 BC-AD 14, Leiden-Boston.

• Favell, A. & Smith, M.P. (eds)  2006. The Human Face of Global Mobility. New Brunswick NJ

• Gruen, E.S. 1992. Culture and National Identity in Republican Rome. Cornell University.

• Harvey D. (2009) Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom, Columbia.

• Horden, P. and Purcell, N. 2000. Corrupting Sea. Cambridge.

• Malkin, I. 2005. Mediterranean Paradigms and Classical Antiquity. London.

• Osborne R. (1991) ‘The potential mobility of human populations’,  Oxford Journal of Archaeology 10.2:231-52.

• Osborne R. (1998) ‘Early Greek Colonization? The nature of Greek settlements in the West’, in N. Fisher and H. van Wees (eds.) Archaic Greece. New approaches and new evidence, London and Swansea, 251-70.

• Schlesier R. and Zellmann U. (eds.) Mobility and travel in the Mediterranean from antiquity to the Middle Ages, Münster, 73-83.

• Scheidel W. (2004) ‘Human Mobility in Roman Italy, I: The Free Population’, Journal of Roman Studies 94: 1-26.

• Scheidel W. (2005). ‘Human Mobility in Roman Italy, II: The Slave Population’, Journal of Roman Studies 95: 64-79.

Other resources:

• Broadhead, W. 2001. ‘Rome’s migration policy and the so-called ius migrandi’, in Cahiers Glotz,  12, 69-89.

• Crawley H. and Crimes T. (2009) Refugees living in Wales (CMPR) Swansea.

• Favell A. (2001) Philosophies of Integration, London.

• Lo Cascio E. and Malanima P. (2005) ‘Cycles and Stability. Italian Population before the Demographic Transition (225 B.C. - A.D. 1900)’, Rivista di Storia Economica 21.3: 197-232.

• UN and WHO statistics documetns about contemporary Migration trends

• Fisher, B.S., G. Jakeman, H.M. Pant, M. Schwoon and R.S.J. Tol: ‘CHIMP: A Simple Population Model for Use in Integrated Assessment of Global Environmental Change,’ Integrated Assessment Journal. Web publication on open access (will be provided)


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Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Feb 2013

Last revision date


Key words search

Migrant, Migration, Demographics