From Rome to Byzantium: The World of Late Antiquity - CLAS6400

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Luke Lavan checkmark-circle


This module will explore Mediterranean life in the period 283-650, from the time of Diocletian and Constantine to the Arab Conquests covering the world of major figures such as Julian, Augustine, Justinian, and Mohammed. It will separate the complex changes of this period, which have often been lumped together in a single misleading model of 'decline'. Long-term phenomena, such as the centralisation of imperial power, the emergence of a Christian state, the collapse of the Eastern Empire, and the rise of Islam, remain legitimate topics of interest.

Different aspects of society will be explored, using textual, archaeological and iconographic evidence, covering such themes as the emperor and court, war, cities, the countryside, the economy, the end of paganism, and the rise of Christianity. These portraits will draw on the extraordinary preservation of sites and landscapes in North Africa and the East Mediterranean, where cities, villages and monasteries often stand as if they had only recently been abandoned. Rich stratigraphic evidence, from earthquake and abandonment deposits, also makes it possible to perceive the everyday life of the period in a way that is only true of Pompeii in earlier centuries. Students taking this course will develop an understanding of both the last flowering of Greek culture and the cultural foundations of the Middle Ages (in Europe, Byzantium and Islam), revealing an important chapter in our history, which is often ignored but is vital to grasp, to understand the legacy of Antiquity.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 30
Total Private Study Hours: 270
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

• Report (1,500 words) – 20%
• Essay 1 (2,000 words) – 30%
• Essay 2 (3,000 words) – 40%
• 2 x Seminar Handout (500 words each) – 10%

Reassessment methods

• 100% Coursework (3,000 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the distinctive character of late antique society, as part of Hellenistic civilisation;
2 Demonstrate awareness of regional differences and chronological changes within late antique society;
3 Demonstrate understanding of the biases in the use of archaeological and written sources in this period, both those intrinsic to the material, and those brought by different scholars;
4 Demonstrate appreciation of the importance of Late Antiquity in shaping the later history of Europe and Western Islam, and the sources of modern interest in it.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Use a range of source material in seminars and lectures;
2 Demonstrate appreciation of problems of interpretation in each type of source material through analysis of current studies;
3 Communicate information and arguments to specialist and non-specialists.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 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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