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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2045 Transformations of the Roman World

20 creditsClass Size: 28

Module manager: Dr Jonathan Jarrett

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

HIST1045Empire and Aftermath: The Mediterranean World from the Secon

Module replaces

HIST1045 Empire and Aftermath

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The Roman Empire was the immediate precursor of medieval society in the West (although it continued throughout the Middle Ages at Constantinople as what is called the Byzantine Empire). Roman rule established an accepted idea of political legitimacy which lived on and is still with us today, visible in monuments, money and language. It also oversaw the establishment of Christianity as a world religion. All these phenomena were, however, transformed by the process of imperial break-up, the empire’s replacement by the kingdoms of the early Middle Ages and, still more significant, the rise of Islam as a new political and religious formation. This module takes a roughly chronological path through these great changes, focusing on political and religious formations as well as material culture and visual representations of power, identity and ideology.


This module studies the huge changes in the organisation and ideology of society in and around the Mediterranean basin over the period from the second to eighth centuries CE. Covering the spread of Christianity and then Islam as world religions, the high point and disintegration of Roman imperial authority and the establishment of the new, ‘barbarian’ political identities which would underpin the future configuration of the European space, the module uses textual and material evidence to allow students to understand the transformation of the Roman world both in the terms of the time and as the foundations of following periods of history, including up to our own times.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module students will have
1. Acquired and demonstrated an understanding of the basic political and religious shifts of the Late Antique period in and around the Mediterranean world.
2. Grown skills in the critical analysis of primary materials from pre-modern and non-industrial societies.
3. Recognised different historical arguments about the causes and consequences of the changes examined in this module.
4. Presented a structured and coherent analysis based on appropriate and relevant historical sources in assignments set by tutors.
5. Applied fundamental standards and practices of historical study for research, discussion, and assessed work.

Skills outcomes
Historical source analysis


The module will cover the period from the second to eighth centuries CE in the Mediterranean basin broadly conceived, with consideration at times of Northern Europe and Western Asia. Indicative themes may include Roman political authority, the growth and spread of Christianity and then of Islam, the competition between ‘Roman’ and ‘barbarian’ identities and economic and social integration, all considered through the lens of transformation over time.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Undertaking core reading and other activities in preparation for seminars (55 hours)
- Reviewing and consolidating notes on lectures (21 hours)
- Identifying gaps in knowledge and carrying out self-directed reading to address these (21 hours)
- Researching, preparing, and writing assignments (75 hours)
- Reflecting on feedback and implementing suggestions in future assignments (8 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Over Weeks 2-11 students will be asked to provide a 5-minute unassessed presentation, either live or pre-recorded, on the scholarly debates on the week’s topic; class numbers will determine whether this is an individual or group effort. Some factual feedback will be provided on this in class by the tutor and short-form written feedback will also be provided after the fact. This will give all students at least one topic on which they have some prepared expertise for other assessments.
Informal formative feedback will also be provided by the tutor by means of class discussion and one-to-one in office hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 word essay selected from list due by Monday of Revision Week60.00
Assignment1,500 word source commentary exercise (3 x 500-word answers) due by Monday of Week 640.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:25:06


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