Introduction to Roman Civilisation - CLAS3690

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Christopher Burden-Strevens checkmark-circle


In this module, we shall begin by examining the history of the last century of the Roman republic. Our focus will be on how that republic fell and was replaced by the empire whose founder was Augustus. Among the themes examined will be political violence, the intrusion of the army into political life and the rise of the warlord. The second half of the module is concerned with the patronage of the arts (poetry, history writing, art and architecture) under Augustus, with the role of the arts as propaganda, and the thesis that writers were recruited to act as spokesmen for the policies and ideals of the principate. The central theme is the creation of enduring images of Rome and Empire, using traditional historical and mythological materials; alongside this, the module treats areas of public policy such as moral legislation, festivals, religious reform and the position of women. The module is also concerned with the responses of the writers, whether as supporters of public policy, or as commenting on and reacting against it. Thus, its content is much better understood as a result of the historical development outlined in the first part of term.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150



Method of assessment

Critical assessment of a journal article on Roman History (750 words) – 40%
Critical assessment of a journal article on Roman Archaeology or Art (750 words) – 40%
Online assessment (500 words) – 20%

Indicative reading

Indicative reading list

Camps, W, (1979) An Introduction to Virgil's Aeneid. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
North, J, (1998) Plutarch, Selected Lives. Ware: Wordsworth Editions.
Northedge, A. (2005) The Good Study Guide. Milton Keynes. The Open University
Scullard, H, (1985) From the Gracchi to Nero. London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Understand the nature of the political change from late republic to the early principate;
Understand the nature of Augustan ideology;
Understand the social and historical context of different genres of Roman literature written under the late republic and early principate;
Understand the position of women in the age of Augustus;
Draw together a wide range of sources for Greek and Roman history (legal, literary, historical, and biographical).


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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