GRC20030 Early Roman Empire

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module examines the history of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Trajan. We will explore the political history of the period, focusing on the figure of the emperor and the nature of imperial power. We will examine how emperors such as Nero represented themselves to their people, and how they were represented in later histories and biographies. We will also focus on the social history of Rome, examining topics such as Roman slavery, gladiators and the arena, religions at Rome and the emergence of Christianity. No previous knowledge is necessary and all texts are studied in translation.

The module provides an introduction to the subject both for programme students who want to progress further in their study of Roman history, and also for elective students who would like a standalone introduction to the period.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
Critically discuss aspects of the social and political history of the Early Roman Empire;
Analyze ancient source material;
Demonstrate understanding of modern research on key issues in the subject.

Indicative Module Content:

Lectures will include topics such as:

Introduction to Sources and Approaches
Augustus and the Principate
Julio-Claudian Emperors: Tiberius, Gaius (Caligula), Claudius, Nero
Civil War and the Flavian Emperors
Nerva and Trajan: the Emperor and the Army
Political Power in the Roman Empire
The Image of the Emperor
Gladiatorial Spectacles in Roman Society
Slavery and Citizenship
Christianity and Roman Religions

Tutorials will focus on source criticism, focusing on topics such as:
Approaches to Reading Ancient Historians
Agrippina and the Imperial Family
The Roman Army
The Colosseum

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module is taught through lectures and tutorials. Lectures address key questions, provide clear introductions to each topic, and demonstrate how to engage critically with ancient source material and modern scholarship. Opportunities for group discussion and student-led enquiry is provided by break-out sessions in lectures and via tutorials.

Students are expected to study key ancient sources and read secondary scholarship outside of class. Readings are available on Brightspace, and handouts of Powerpoint Slides are distributed via Brightspace. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to 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
Essay: 1000-word commentary Week 7 n/a Graded No


Essay: 1500-word essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn 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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive individual feedback on their take-home test, and the final tutorial will give space for students to reflect on this assignment and prepare for the final exam.

Name Role
Assoc Professor Philip De Souza Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Mr Eoghan Finn Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
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) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31 Fri 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Mon 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 20, 22, 24, 28, 30 Mon 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Wed 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 20, 22, 24, 28, 30 Wed 12:00 - 12:50