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Unit information: Rome: Republic to Principate in 2018/19

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Unit name Rome: Republic to Principate
Unit code CLAS22383
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Edwin Shaw
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The end of the Roman Republic and the establishment of autocracy under the emperors is a crucial test case for understanding how a political system can collapse; however, politics was not the only aspect of Roman society that changed in this period. Rome was no longer a small city-state but a global empire; the city of Rome had grown to an extraordinary size, while the rest of Italy was increasingly urbanised and integrated into the wider world; the countryside was transformed by the crisis of the traditional peasant class and the influx of slave labour, while trading activities became ever more extensive and important. The aim of this unit is to explore the causes and consequences of this transformation, looking not only at the political history of the period but also at longer-term changes in economy, society and religion.

This unit aims to present students:

  • with a general knowledge of the history of Rome and its empire, and of the key events and changes of this period;
  • with a detailed knowledge of one aspect within this period and the central themes arising from this aspect;
  • with a developed knowledge of the sources for this period and the issues involved in interpreting these sources.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  • Have a good knowledge of the varied sources available for studying the history of the Roman empire, as well as an advanced understanding of the best way to make use of these sources.
  • Have developed a good knowledge of the political and social developments in the Roman empire, and an advanced understanding of how to analyse these.
  • Be able to use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own researches to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject, displaying full understanding of academic conventions.
  • Have had an opportunity to further develop their skills in oral and written communication, in small groups and general discussion, and in an essay and a written exam.

Teaching details

Lectures and Seminars.

Assessment Details

  • 1 essay of c. 2,500 words (50%)
  • 1 90 minute exam consisting of 2 essays from a choice of 8 (50%).

Reading and References

  • R. Alston, Aspects of Roman History (1998)
  • M. Beard & M. Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic (2nd edn, 1999)
  • P. Garnsey & R. Saller (eds.), The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, Culture (2nd edn, 2014)
  • H. I. Flower (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic (2004)
  • C. Kelly, The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction (2006)
  • N. Morley, The Roman Empire: roots of imperialism (2010)