Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module CLAS3491: Roman Syria

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS3491: Roman Syria

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • CLAS2131 or CLAS2661 or CLAS2711 or ARCH 2161.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop a deeper understanding of the history of the Near Eastern lands in the context of the Roman empire
  • To show awareness of scholarly approaches and debates and to develop one's own views on the Near East
  • To explore and analyse in detail a variety of material, literary and visual sources


  • This module provides an overview of the lands of Syria in the Roman period. The Near East became, over time, one of the most important parts of the empire, and it also served as the cradle for the monotheistic world religions of today.
  • The module investigates the history and the peculiarities of the region and explores various aspects of its society through analysis of literary, archaeological, epigraphic, iconographic and numismatic sources.
  • Lectures and seminars focus on the progressive extension of Roman rule over the region, and on the impact of Classical, Graeco-Roman culture.
  • Case studies show the importance of specific Near Eastern sources for our understanding of the Roman empire as a whole

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed knowledge of the history and society of Syria in the Roman period, and of its place in the wider empire
  • Ability to discuss critically and with sophistication different modern approaches to the region
  • Acquaintance with an extensive range of textual and visual sources relevant to Roman Syria
  • Deeper understanding of the methodological approaches to the various questions involved
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to analyze in detail the different relevant source materials
  • Ability to evaluate key aspects of Roman Syria against the background of the development of the Roman empire
Key Skills:
  • Capacity to handle a wide range of different sources with care and sophistication
  • Detailed evaluation, and appropriate selection, of methodological frameworks applied to different aspects of the course
  • Ability to research independently an aspect of the course, and to communicate its results with sophistication in written format

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

  • lectures introduce the relevant subjects and sources, and provide a general picture of the Syrian lands in the Roman period
  • students will build on this picture by developing their own ideas through reading, analyzing and discussing interactively modern literature and ancient sources
  • students will study and discuss critically different modern approaches
  • assessment will take place through essays, enabling and encouraging the student to display an understanding of Roman Syria and its role in the history of the Roman empire, and the capacity to analyse the relevant source materials

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 10 5 in Michaelmas Term, 5 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 10
Tutorials 2 1 in Michaelmas Term, 1 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 2
Reading and Preparation 166
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

One formative exercise.

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