Barbarians in the West - CLAS5910

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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 provide a manageable and structured course at an appropriate level of detail, with the potential for some depth of analysis. It is also intended to 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 the Classical & Archaeological Studies department.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300


Autumn or Spring

Method of assessment

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

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List -

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.
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, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a deep understanding of the importance and implications of the political, social, economic and cultural history of the Late Antique West AD 300-600;
2. Critically evaluate a wide range of archaeological and art historical evidence available for the period;
3. Engage reflectively with current research related to primary (e.g. ancient texts and archaeological materials) and secondary sources (e.g. modern historians and
4. Understand the nature and extent of the transformations and interactions among the migrating barbarian societies and the indigenous populations they encountered (e.g. in
politics, society, the economy, religion and in cultural life).


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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