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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS2420 Augustus and his Legacy

20 creditsClass Size: 12

Module manager: Dr Penelope J. Goodman

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is mutually exclusive with

CLAS3420Augustus and his Legacy

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module combines a historical study of the Augustan period with a cultural assessment of later responses to the legacy left by Augustus himself. The first, larger part of the module explores the c. 60-year period between the death of Julius Caesar and the accession of Rome’s second emperor, Tiberius. During this era, Rome underwent a profound political transformation, exchanging an increasingly beleaguered Republican system for a system of rule by emperor – the principate – which would last for the next three centuries. At the same time, the social and cultural world of the Roman empire was also revolutionised, witnessing the emergence of a new social hierarchy, new forms and uses of art, architecture and literature, new religious beliefs and a new relationship between Rome and the provinces. Our lectures will investigate the role played by Augustus himself in this process of change, and look at the efforts which he made to ensure that his own personal legacy would last beyond it. In the second part of the module, we will then turn our attention to the post-Augustan period, looking at the ways in which people of later eras have responded to and made use of Augustus’ legacy in everything from political rhetoric to popular screen portrayals. We will ask why opinions of Augustus since his death have varied so dramatically, and how the range of different perspectives from the past inform our own understanding of him.


This module will introduce students to the political and social character of the Augustan period and the factors which shaped it, as well as to later responses to Augustus, ranging from the immediate aftermath of his death to the modern era. Students will learn how to analyse and discuss a wide range of different types of primary evidence relevant to the Augustan period and its legacy, as well as engaging with modern scholarly debates on topics such as the nature of the Roman principate, issues of historical agency, and the relationship between historical figures / events and their later uses or interpretations.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students are expected to be able to demonstrate:
- a capacity to understand and analyse the major political events, figures, social and cultural developments of the Augustan era
- a capacity to understand and analyse the relationship between the actions of the emperor Augustus in his own lifetime and later uses of and responses to his legacy
- an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the primary evidence usually used to explore the Augustan period and its legacy
- an ability to perform close critical analysis of the primary evidence
- a knowledge of major scholarly viewpoints and debates relevant to the study of the Augustan period and its legacy
- an ability to engage critically with the major scholarship on the subject
- an ability to construct reasoned and well-supported arguments
- an ability to communicate effectively in seminar classes, written assignments and under exam conditions
- good time management and IT skills


Historical topics covered in the first part of the module will include Augustus’ rise to political power; the nature of his position; his relationship with the existing Roman elite, the people, the army and the provinces; changes in religion, literature and architecture in Augustan Rome.
Legacy topics covered in the second part of the module will include responses to Augustus within antiquity, in the medieval period, in Christian legend, in the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the particular contexts of the British empire, fascist Italy and modern screen portrayals.

Teaching methods

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

Private study

The 180 hours of private study and independent learning on this module break down as follows:
- 3 hours reading for each of the 15 lectures = 45 hours
- 7 hours reading / note-taking for each of the 5 seminars = 35 hours
- Researching and writing assessments = 80 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive formative feedback from the module tutor during class contact hours and especially in seminar classes. They will also receive detailed summative feedback on their coursework in week 11, providing them with a formal indicator of their progress on the module well in advance of the exam at the end of the semester. Students will also be encouraged to attend the module convenor’s drop-in hours to discuss the module content, draft essays or preparation for the exam, or to request further clarification of feedback already provided on assessed work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500 words50.00
Essay2,500 words50.00
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: 02/10/2020 13:48:14


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