Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module CLAS43330: The Roman Republic: Debates and Approaches

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS43330: The Roman Republic: Debates and Approaches

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2018/19 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • 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 Roman Republican history for students who have received appropriate grounding in their undergraduate studies.


  • This module builds on previous knowledge of the Roman Republic to explore some of the most controversial questions it presents in depth, with a particular emphasis on the range of approaches represented in recent scholarship.
  • Exact topics studied may change from year to year, and will be guided in part by developing debates in published scholarship, but possible examples include:
  • Can we trust the sources on early Rome?
  • What was at stake in the Struggle of the Orders?
  • How must we reevaluate the relationship between Rome and Italy in the light of new archaeological evidence?
  • How do we explain Roman territorial expansion in the second century BCE?
  • What was the Roman ‘cultural revolution’?
  • How did the Roman nobility reproduce their position of power?
  • What was the function of the tribunate of the plebs?
  • Did ideology play a role in late Republican politics?
  • Democracy: did the people of Rome have a real role in their political system?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module students should have acquired a close familiarity with and understanding of the most important sources for a number of central topics in Roman Republican history, and be able to make informed use of a range of different methodologies appropriate to the various questions under consideration. Students should be able to understand and appreciate the major trends and debates in modern scholarship, and some of the theoretical material on which these modern debates rest.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop skills in handling evidence of various types, including numismatic, epigraphic, archaeological, and textual sources. This will involve developing analytic skills relevant to the handling of textual evidence and evaluative skills relative to comparing and synthesizing evidence from multiple sources, as well as specific skills in locating, reading, and analysing published archaeological, numismatic and epigraphic data.
Key Skills:
  • Close analysis and evaluation of evidence using a range of methods and approaches. Understanding and evaluating published scholarly arguments, including theoretically dense material. Construction of clear arguments and rebuttal of counter-arguments, orally and in writing. Communication of information and arguments in prepared oral presentations. Finding and making use of published research in the library and using online databases. The ability to work independently on projects, organize time, and make use of appropriate IT and physical resources.

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

  • Teaching will be by fortnightly seminar, structured around a student presentation on the topic for the week. This will ensure that individuals engage in independent research and thought 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 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. This will help to promote a proficiency in producing clearly written, sophisticated and original interpretations of the relevant source materials, and demonstrate students’ understanding and evaluation of relevant modern scholarship. It will also enable students to work within the parameters of proper academic conventions, and in general contributes to research 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: Summative essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two essays (one to be submitted in Michaelmas Term, 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