GRC20030 Early Roman Empire

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module examines the history of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Trajan. We will explore aspects of the political, social and cultural history of the period. We will examine how emperors interacted with their people, and how they were represented in contemporary works and later histories and biographies. We will also focus on the social history of Rome, exploring topics such as Roman slavery, gladiators, religion 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:
Synthesize appropriate information about the history of the Early Roman Empire;
Analyze and comment critically on ancient source material;
Demonstrate an understanding of modern scholarship on key issues;
Compose relevant and analytical essays in answer to historical questions.

Indicative Module Content:

Lectures will include topics such as:
Introduction to Sources and Interpretations
Augustus and the Principate
Julio-Claudian Emperors
The Flavian Emperors
Nerva and Trajan
Armies and Provinces
The Image of the Emperor
The Roman Arena
Slavery and Citizenship
Religions in the Roman Empire

Tutorials will focus on critical analysis of ancient sources dealing with topics such as:
Roman historical writing
Agrippina and the Imperial Family
Roman Soldiers

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 provide clear introductions to each topic, address key issues and demonstrate how to engage critically with ancient source material and modern scholarship. Opportunities for group discussion and student-led enquiry are provided by tutorials.

Students are expected to study key ancient sources and read secondary scholarship outside of class. Readings are available on Brightspace, and Powerpoint Slides are made available 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 In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: 1000-word commentary on an example of ancient source material Week 8 n/a Graded No


Essay: 2,000-word essay Coursework (End of Trimester) 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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive individual feedback on their commentary and essay.

Name Role
Dr Martin Brady Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Philip De Souza Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Nicholas Freer Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Eleanor Kellett Tutor
Ms Gillian O Sullivan Tutor
Ms Niamh Tobin Tutor