ARCH30910 Roman Imperial Art, Architecture and Political Propaganda; how to spot fake news in the Roman world

Academic Year 2021/2022

The Roman Empire covers one of the most important and iconic periods of European, North African and Middle Eastern history. The Empire (lasting from the 1st until, arguably, the 5th century AD) extended, at its territorial peak, from the Welsh coastline as far as the Euphrates and from the Scottish border to North Africa. It achieved cultural and political unification on an unprecedented scale. Its military might and administrative rigour enabled a highly-structured system of economic exploitation and cultural appropriation throughout its territorial reach.

This module moves thematically and chronologically from the Pax Romana established by Augustus to the rise of imperial cities in northern Africa under Septimius Severus. Themes of peace, triumph and conflict will be viewed through a series of core-and-periphery test cases. Topics covered will include Augustan Peace, The Wars in Judaea, The Spoils of Territorial Expansion under Trajan (looking at Dacia and Parthia), Territorial Consolidation under Hadrian (exploring Rome and Britain) and the Art of Ruling in Absentia (as exemplified by Marcus Aurelius’ reign on the Danube).

Students will analyse the Roman conceptualisation of events taking place on the fringe of Empire and the nature of their portrayal at the administrative core in terms of Roman imperial propaganda, political rivalries, "fake news" and the various media used to reach the masses.

Imperial propaganda will be investigated through a reading of the most famous imperial architectural designs in Rome which will be tested against archaeological evidence for daily life in the related provinces.

The module assumes no prior knowledge of Roman history or archaeology.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Learning outcomes:
An appreciation of Roman Imperial architecture, art and culture through the knowledge of :
*Euergetism, patronage and social hierarchies
*Core and periphery dynamics
*Politics, propaganda and artistic expression
*Evolving cityscapes and urban dynamics

Relevant transferable skills :
*A keen analytical perspective
*Heightened communication skills
*Descriptive fluency
*Political and historical awareness

Indicative Module Content:

Themes include :
1. Augustus’ Pax Romana (with a review of the Prima Porta, the Ara Pacis and the Campus
Martius complex)
2. War in Judaea – religious intolerance or financially-driven crusade (including a study of
the Colosseum, The Arch of Titus and destruction of the Second Temple, with reference
to the Temple Mount, Masada and Herodium)
3. The Spoils of Territorial Expansion (with an analysis of Trajan’s Forum and Column as
representative of his Dacian Campaigns).
4. Peripheral Consolidation versus Central Architectural Extravagance (including Hadrianic
expression in Roman and a discourse on architectural and archaeological evidence in
Britain and the East).
5. Ruling in Absentia – War on the Danube as conveyed on Marcus Aurelius’ column.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Conversation Class




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Student performance in this module will be assessed by a minor group presentation and a final more-heavily weighted individual essay.
The focus on group work early on in the module is designed to nurture student engagement and collegiality.
The move towards the final thesis will lead the student towards independent research and afford them the confidence, and the heightened awareness, to question widely-recognised and often long-held claims which have been accepted as fact. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

There are no prior learning requirements for this module

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Group Project: A recorded presentation of 15-20 minutes.
This will be submitted both as a recording and as text with citations and bibliography.
Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: An essay of 4000 words on either a monument, an inscription, a complex or a statue, that we have discussed in the module. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 14:00 - 14:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 14:00 - 15:50