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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS3420 Augustus and his Legacy

20 creditsClass Size: 24

Module manager: Dr. Penelope J. Goodman

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is mutually exclusive with

CLAS2420Augustus and his Legacy
CLAS3930The Age of Augustus

Module replaces

CLAS3930: The Age of Augustus

This module is not 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 enable students to:
- analyse and discuss the political and social character of the Augustan period and the factors which shaped it
- analyse and discuss a range of later responses to Augustus, ranging from the immediate aftermath of his death to the modern era
- analyse and discuss a wide range of different types of primary evidence (e.g. literature, epigraphy, coinage, art, architecture, etc.) relevant to the Augustan period and its legacy
- engage 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, and to appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge
- 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, and to describe and comment on particular aspects of current research and scholarship
- a critical appreciation of the contributions made by individual scholars to the evolving field of Augustan studies
- 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

Skills outcomes
On successful completion of this module, all students will have had the opportunity to develop the following skills:
- close critical analysis of primary evidence relating to the Augustan period.
- construction of reasoned and well-supported arguments.
- written communication in assignments and under exam conditions.
- time management and IT skills.
- team-working.
- oral communication.
- understanding how to design and conduct surveys.


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

Student progress will be monitored:
- at an informal level through lectures and the moderating of online discussions by the module coordinator;
- at a formal level, through the assessed coursework and end-of-module examination;
- via a detailed module questionnaire at the end of teaching on the module.

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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