Everyday Life in the Roman Empire - CLAS6740

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Module delivery information

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


How do you imagine Roman Antiquity? How do the images produced for film, TV and popular fiction reflect the lives of those in antiquity? Can we see the everyday experience of Pliny, Juvenal or Augustine or of those who were killed in the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79?

This module will explore everyday life in the Roman world, from haircuts, tattoos and gestures, to everyday rites and rhythms, whether domestic, social, political or religious, focusing on human experience, with its culturally specific organisation rather than abstract scholarly constructions. It will range from Augustan Rome to Late Antique Constantinople, and will draw on depictions, literary evidence (such as poems), original documents (from personal letters to minutes of meetings), inscriptions and especially archaeology, focusing on key sites where preservation is good, such as Pompeii, Ostia, Sardis and Petra. Here buildings, graffiti, occupation deposits and other traces will allow snapshots of everyday life to be constructed: of the houses, workshops, taverns, temples, theatres and churches of Antiquity. Students will be encouraged to undertake both empirical studies and imaginative reconstructions as part of their assessment, so that they understand the importance not only of describing what evidence remains of everyday life, but of actively reconstructing the past, and of engaging different types of evidence in a critical dialogue.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
• Essay 1 (1,700 words) – 20%
• Essay 2 (2,300 words) – 30%
• Historical Reconstruction (3,000 words) – 40%
• 2 x Seminar Handout (equivalent to 500 words each) – 10%

Reassessment method:
• 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: https://kent.rl.talis.com/index.html

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 critical knowledge of the distinctive character of Roman society, at the level of everyday experience, as it was conceived by the Romans;
2 Demonstrate appreciation of the different everyday experiences of people with different socio-cultural status;
3 Demonstrate critical understanding of the biases in the use of archaeological and written sources in this period;
4 Demonstrate critical understanding of the potential of engagement with historical reconstruction, not only as a guarantee of authenticity, but also as a means of testing academic hypotheses.

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

1 Analyse, evaluate and interpret a variety of types of evidence in an independent and critical manner drawing on at least two source types;
2 Select, gather and synthesise relevant information from a wide variety of sources to gain understanding;
3 Use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information;
4 Show awareness of the limits of their own knowledge and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge;
5 Communicate interpretations using the appropriate academic conventions.


  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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