Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • Any module in ancient art or Roman history: Introduction to Greek or Roman Architecture, a Roman Imperial history topic, or equivalent.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • In accordance with the general aims of the MA in Classics, to promote self-motivated and self-directed research in the sub-discipline of classical archaeology and the discipline of art history for students who have received appropriate grounding in their undergraduate studies.


  • 1. Concepts of Monumentality
  • Monumentality and Architectural Theory
  • Urbanism and Human Geography
  • Monumentality in Ancient Culture
  • 2. Writing and Buildings
  • Literary evidence (Lucian, On the Hall and Hippias or the Bath-building; Aelius Aristides, Speeches; Philostratus, Images; Dio Cassius, Roman History)
  • Inscriptions as written sources
  • Inscriptions as architectural fabric
  • 3. Rome: a Model for Monumental Building?
  • The city after Hadrian
  • everan constructions and restorations of urban monuments
  • Regional identities expressed in the city’s architecture
  • 4. Greece and Asia Minor
  • Pausanias and Roman Greece
  • Classicism and responses to it
  • Provincials and governors in the built landscape
  • 5. North Africa
  • Wealth, war, and monumentality
  • Orientation: West or East?
  • 'Civilization against barbarism': monuments on the edge of the desert
  • 6. Military outposts (Britain, the Germanies, and central-eastern Europe)
  • The influence of the army
  • Provincialism versus cosmopolitanism
  • Urban planning
  • 7. The Gallic provinces and beyond (Italy, Sicily, Gaul, and Spain)
  • Public buildings or private monuments
  • Places of pilgrimage, centres of cult: monumental sanctuaries
  • Urban transformations: reshaping the city
  • 8. The Near East and Egypt
  • Architecture and identity: cities and sanctuaries
  • From function to monument: understanding grandeur
  • Social meaning of the 'baroque'

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module builds on previous knowledge of Roman architecture, focusing on the Antonine and Severan periods (A.D. 138-235) and on the theme of monumentality, as this affects issues of architectural patronage, urbanism, and cultural identity. By the end of the module, students should have acquired familiarity with the architecture of this period across a wide range of regions of the Roman Empire from Britain to Syria, and should be capable of using a combination of ancient literary sources, epigraphic evidence, and material culture to understand the significance of monumental architecture for peoples of this period.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will need to develop the analytical skills relevant to the handling of written literary and epigraphic evidence for the ancient Roman Empire of the second and third centuries A.D. and will need to develop skills in using theoretical tools from current architectural theory and sociological analysis to interpret ancient material and visual culture. In particular, they will need to select and make comparisons from a wide range of material to answer broad questions about the role of architectural monuments for several different societies at this period of the Roman Empire.
Key Skills:
  • The analytical and interpretative skills required for the successful completion of this module are transferable to any field which requires analysis of a large and diverse body of material involving both written and visual elements, a sensitivity to aesthetic or design issues, and a capacity to make inferences about historical societies and their ideas on the basis of material culture. It also requires the effective use of library and IT resources; and good written presentation skills.

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

  • Teaching will be by fortnightly seminar, which will be structured around a student presentation on the topic for the week. This will ensure that individuals engage in independent research and thought (viz. on the topics for which they make a presentation), and that they gain practice in articulating their conclusions. The presentation will be followed by a discussion in which there is an onus on everyone to engage in thought about the scope of the evidence and the coherence of the interpretation presented, encouraging critical reflection. The seminars are fortnightly and 2 hours long rather than (e.g.) weekly and one hour sessions in order to allow and encourage significant preparation, and detailed discussion.
  • Students will be encouraged to attend undergraduate lectures in appropriate subjects where available and where they provide an appropriate source of relevant material.
  • Formative assessment will be based on essays written up from the seminar presentations - two during the year. Summative assessment will be by one 5,000 word essay to be submitted at the end of the year. These exercises will foster the ability to provide clear and detailed written analysis of visual material and art-historical issues and to make relevant inferences from written texts and archaeological or architectural evidence, will provide practice for the use of appropriate conventions and style in setting out written research and identification of suitable topics for further research at a doctoral level, and will ensure that research and assimilation of secondary literature is carried out at the appropriate level.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 Fortnightly 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 284
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two essays (one to be submitted in Michaelmas and one in Epiphany Term).

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