Ancient Sources (Material Evidence) - Pompeii: Destruction, Discovery and Afterlife

Module titleAncient Sources (Material Evidence) - Pompeii: Destruction, Discovery and Afterlife
Module codeCLA2514
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Claire Holleran (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Pompeii is one of the most recognisable archaeological sites from the ancient world. It has been a tourist site since the days of the ‘Grand Tour’, and continues to attract millions of tourists each year, offering an opportunity to walk through streets apparently unchanged for millennia. Yet the site has a complex history and interpreting the archaeological material is far from straightforward. You will focus not just on what we can learn about the Roman world from Pompeii, including topics such as society, economy, commercial life, streets and traffic, houses, and sexuality, but on the history of the site itself, including its destruction, ‘rediscovery’, troubled excavation history, and the current pressing issue of preservation and conservation. You will also explore the reception of the site, considering the significant cultural influence of Pompeii from the eighteenth century onwards.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • Provide you with a thorough and detailed understanding of the archaeological site of Pompeii, including the nature of its destruction, the history of its discovery and excavation, and the issues raised by the preservation and conservation of the site
  • Introduce you to the particular difficulties of using the site as a source, what we can learn from it about life in the Roman world, and the reception and afterlife of the town

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the archaeological site of Pompeii
  • 2. Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the reception and cultural influence of the site from the eighteenth century onwards
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the ways in which Pompeii can contribute to our knowledge of urban life in Roman Italy

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of critical approaches to ancient source material
  • 5. Conduct independent research in Classics and Ancient History
  • 6. Show developed skills in formal academic writing in Classics and Ancient History

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Show advanced skills in critical analysis and evaluation
  • 8. Critically digest and organise diverse information to form a coherent argument
  • 9. Write an analytical essay or report
  • 10. Conduct independent research
  • 11. Show teamworking skills through small group work
  • 12. Discuss and critically debate issues with peer group

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The development of the city
  • The eruption
  • The aftermath and ‘rediscovery’ of the site
  • Excavation and cataloguing
  • The use of the site as a ‘source’
  • Preservation and conservation
  • Reception and cultural influence
  • Society
  • Commercial life
  • Streets and traffic
  • Houses
  • Graffiti
  • Prostitution and sexuality

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Seminars (4 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study124Private study


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in seminarsIn seminars1-3,11-12Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Source commentary301000 words1-10Mark and written comments
Examination702 hours1-10Mark and written comments


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Source commentarySource commentary1-10Referral/deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

A full and detailed bibliography will be provided by the lecturer, but key reading will include:

  • Allison, P. 2004. Pompeian Households: an Analysis of the Material Culture (Los Angeles: University of California Press)
  • Beard, M. 2008. Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (London: Profile)
  • Berry, J. 2013. The Complete Pompeii (London: Thames and Hudson)
  • Cooley, A. 2003. Pompeii (London: Duckworth)
  • Cooley, A. E. and M. G. L. Cooley, 2014. Pompeii and Herculaneum: A Sourcebook, 2nd edition (London and New York: Routledge)
  • Dobbins, J. J. and P. W. Foss (eds.), 2007. The World of Pompeii (New York: Routledge)
  • Laurence, R. 2007. Roman Pompeii: Space and Society. 2nd edition (New York: Routledge)
  • Wallace-Hadrill, A. 1994. Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press)
  • Zanker, P. 1998. Pompeii: Public and Private Life (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Roman history, Roman archaeology, Pompeii

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date