Barbarians in the West - CL659

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
View Timetable
5 30 (15)







How did the Western Roman Empire undergo its transformation into the early medieval world? This course provides an overview of the period between 300 and 600 A.D., in particular, examining the collision between barbarian and Roman in late Antiquity and the development of the post-Roman and early medieval West, focusing on changes in culture and society through a critical evaluation of evidence from history, art, architecture and archaeology. There will be a focus on Italy, France and Britain which is intended to 1) provide a manageable and structured course at an appropriate level of detail, with the potential for some depth of analysis, and 2) concentrate on those geographical areas which mesh closely with the subject matter of other courses in Roman archaeology and late Antique and medieval history offered by colleagues in University.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 30


Also available under code CL591 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

Source/Artefact-based Exercise (1,500 words) – 30%
Essay (3,000 words) – 70%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List -

Brown, P. (1971). The World of Late Antiquity, London: Thames and Hudson.
Cameron, A., Ward-Perkins, B. & Whitby, M. (eds.) (2000). The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. 14: Late Antiquity: Empire and Successors, A.D.425-600 (2nd Edition), Cambridge: CUP.
Christie, N. (2011) The Fall of the Western Roman Empire: An Archaeological and Historical Perspective, London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Heather, P. (2005). The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History, London: Macmillan.
Randers-Pehrson, J. (1983). Barbarians and Romans: The Birth Struggle of Europe, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Randsborg, K. (1991). The First Millennium A.D. in Europe and the Mediterranean, Cambridge: CUP.
Reece, R. (1999). The Later Roman Empire: An Archaeology AD 150-600, Stroud: Tempus.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module, Level 5 students will be able to:

- Demonstrate an understanding of the importance and implications of the political, social, economic and cultural history of the Late Antique West AD 300-600;
- Demonstrate familiarity with the wide range of archaeological and historical evidence available for the period.
- Engage reflectively with other people's analyses and interpretations of primary (e.g. ancient texts and archaeological materials) and secondary sources (e.g modern historians and archaeologists);
- Examine social and cultural change 300-600 A.D., particularly the nature of late Antique culture and society, the nature of barbarian societies, and the impact of the barbarian migrations on the late antique world.

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