Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Classics and Ancient History


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an introduction to and a basis for further study of Roman history and culture and Latin literature.
  • It will investigate a central, transitional epoch in the history of ancient Rome from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • It is a companion module to the plenary Remembering Athens (CLAS1601).


  • This module is an introduction to the history, literature and art of ancient Rome, and it concentrates on one of its most significant epochs: the transformation of the Roman Republic into an empire ruled by one man.
  • We will study the way the Roman past and the new institutions of the Roman present were memorialized in the age of the first Roman emperor.
  • The texts and monuments studied may include: Livy's History, Suetonius' biography of Augustus, the histories of Cassius Dio and Velleius Paterculus, Virgil's Georgics and Aeneid, the poetry of Horace, Propertius and Ovid, the Res Gestae of Augustus, the Mausoleum and Forum of Augustus, the altar of Peace, and the portraiture of the Imperial family in sculpture, coinage and other media.
  • We will also look at the ways the age of Augustus has served as a model for later autocrats and for their opponents, from subsequent Roman emperors to twentieth-century fascism.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A knowledge of the key events and persons in the central, transitional period of Roman history.
  • A knowledge of key literary, artistic and historiographical texts from that period.
  • A knowledge of the impact the image of Augustus had on later history.
  • A knowledge of how the Romans remembered their past and recorded their achievements for posterity.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Methodologies for evaluating the evidence available to us for Augustus and his contemporaries.
  • The ability to evaluate the influence of power and patronage on poetic texts in the Augustan age.
  • The ability to interpret Augustan ideology.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to think independently and to discount the perspective of hindsight.
  • The ability to analyse texts and images concisely.
  • The ability to sustain a clear and well-defended argument.
  • The ability to make proper use of information resources.

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

  • Lectures will provide an evaluation of the literary, historical and artistic evidence, and seminars will allow students to develop skills in interpretation of the evidence.
  • The formative essay will require students to develop arguments at greater length, and essay tutorials will provide a forum for giving feedback to students on content and presentation and for monitoring their development.
  • The examination will assess the students' familiarity with the evidence and the sophistication of their analyses.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 6 3 in Michaelmas Term, 3 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative essay. No collections.

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