Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a specialised aspect of Roman archaeology chosen from a list of topics representing the main areas of research in the Department and the strands within the MA in Archaeology.


  • Two of the following topics as available:
  • Roman archaeology and mythical history: Mythical history and images of Rome; The relationship between classical archaeology and 'the classics'; The nature and variability of the image of Rome in Western society; The complex relationship between popular images, the media and archaeology; The factors that have lain behind the creation of the archaeological database; Museums and popular mythology; Public displays, the TV and linear concepts of history; The concept of progressive Romanization; Comparative frontier narratives across the empire and their social context; The definition of 'otherness' - barbarians in roman eyes; the uses of the native the hero (Vercingetorix, Boudica, Asterix, etc).
  • Production, Exchange and consumption in the Roman World: Imperial interests; Feeding Rome and the army; Feeding the people; Local production and consumption; Mechanisms of exchange; Long-distance trade; Artisans and craftspeople; Retail outlets; Urban settlements as producers and consumers.
  • Roman imperial discourse: The nature of Roman imperialism in a comparative context; The character of imperial discourse and how the Roman example fits with other forms; Variations in imperialism resulting from the chronology of Roman conquest, the uses of literature in imperial discourse; The use of the image of the barbarian 'other'; The roles of religion; The creation an maintenance of the imperial infrastructure and military aspects; The uses of elite culture; Native reactions (positive and negative); The Western Roman empire and multiple identities.
  • Townscapes in North Africa & the Near East: Urban form and its transformation from Late Antiquity to the early Arab period. Mediterranean provinces, especially North Africa and the Near East from the Roman Imperial period to the 8th / 9th centuries AD. Comparison between the eastern and the western Mediterranean. Transformation of cities through the major historical events of this period: the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the Vandal occupation of North Africa, the Byzantine Empire and the arrival of the Arabs. The classical city and the range of public and private buildings and their development over time. Transformation of space from Late Antiquity, both the urban layout of towns and the reuse of individual buildings (e.g. the conversion of temples, baths, theatres, amphitheatres into churches, workshops, forts, housing, cemeteries etc.). Changing nature of society during a period of great historical upheaval. Christianization - the changes to urban topography brought about by the foundation of churches and the rise of the power of the clergy. History of studies and current issues on Roman/Late Antique urbanism; Changing townscapes in the 3rd and 4th centuries; The Vandal period: the case of North Africa; The Byzantine period: the rise of the Christian Empire and the impact on towns; The Arab conquest and the dissolution of the Empire: a new image of urban.
  • Roman Landscapes of the Mediterranean: Mediterranean landscapes of the Roman period (c.500BC-AD500). Methodological and theoretical development of landscape studies through survey of the Roman countryside of the Mediterranean. Current theories and debates include economy, agriculture, demography and identity. Geographical, ecological and historical diversity of Roman rural landscapes. Comparative analysis of different Mediterranean regions. Methodological and theoretical issues associated with Roman landscape studies in the Mediterranean region, links both with earlier and later periods, and innovative approaches to studies of provincial landscapes.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Using two of the following topics as available, students will have:
  • Roman archaeology and mythical history: Developed a critical knowledge of the information for the ways that images of Rome have developed in various countries; considered the relationship between popular images of Rome and the Approaches of Roman archaeologists; Analysed comparable evidence from various areas of Europe and the world; Acquired an appreciation of the diversity of images that have developed and their relationship to archaeological discourses; Evaluated competing theoretical interpretations of this material; Developed their independent research and learning skills.
  • Production, Exchange and Consumption in the Roman World: Investigated a series of topics relating to the subject of the module; Discussed and evaluated a series of case-studies within these topics, through the detailed study of material culture and landscapes; acquired an appreciation of the diversities and similarities in the processes evident in different regions; evaluated the archaeological evidence in the context of the historical sources; developed their independent learning and research skills.
  • Roman Imperial Discourse: Developed a critical knowledge of the information for the ways that Rome operated in various parts of the empire at different times; Considered the complex relationship between ancient history and archaeology; Analysed comparable evidence from various areas of the ~Western empire; Acquired an appreciation of the native responses to Roman invasion and control; Evaluated competing theoretical interpretations of this material; Developed their independent research and learning skills.
  • Townscapes in North Africa & the Near East: Demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of: Roman and Late Antique urbanism (particularly in the North Africa – Tunisia, Libya, Algeria - and in the Near East), The diffusion of Christianity and the progressive Christianization of urban areas, The major debates on the fate of classical Roman towns after the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine urbanism, Early Arab occupation of classical Roman towns: did urban areas (in the civic sense) survived?; Evaluate the available sources of evidence and current issues and interpretations; Investigate and analyse specific case-studies for each period; Consider in detail the re-use of former public buildings and the social, political and economic contexts in which these transformations occurred.
  • Roman Landscapes of the Mediterranean: have developed advanced understanding of a full range of methodological, theoretical and interpretative approaches to Roman landscapes in the Mediterranean; have located studies of Roman Mediterranean landscapes in the broader context of archaeological landscape research; have critically assessed current issues and competing theories in the study of Roman Mediterranean landscapes and formulated clear views on key areas of academic debate and dispute; have fully appreciated the cultural and ecological diversity of Roman landscapes in the Mediterranean and recognized their broader geographical context and historical significance; have critically evaluated and systematically analysed a variety of geographical, chronological and thematic case studies.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have acquired an appreciation of the complexity and diversity data available on different temporal/spatial scales, have gathered relevant data and evaluated competing interpretations of available materials and data.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have developed independent research and learning skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • through a series of lectures and tutorials.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 weekly 1 hour 18
Tutorials 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 562
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000 words 50% Yes
Essay 2 2,000 words 50% Yes
Component: Essays 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3 3,000 words 50% Yes
Essay 4 3,000 words 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

The preparation achieved in the module RSS that precedes this module is considered to be sufficient formative preparation for the summative assignments in this module.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University