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Study information

Ancient Sources (Material Evidence): Globalisation and Identity in the Western Roman Empire

Module titleAncient Sources (Material Evidence): Globalisation and Identity in the Western Roman Empire
Module codeCLA2357
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Professor Martin Pitts (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module uses the concept of globalisation as a lens through which to view the Roman empire – its expansion, the basis for shared cultures and economies, and impacts on conquered ‘native’ communities. These themes are explored with a particular focus on material culture and archaeology, although no prior knowledge is required at the outset. As well as ancient historians and archaeologists, Globalisation in the Roman empire is recommended for humanities and social science students with an interdisciplinary interest in the historical and anthropological dimensions of globalisation, imperialism and urbanisation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module provides an introduction to the archaeology and material culture of the western Roman empire, with a focus on the modern concept of globalisation. The module considers major historical themes in the study of the period - connectivity and the ancient economy; mechanisms of imperial expansion; the changing nature of Roman frontier strategy; the role of cities as nodes for the spread of 'Roman' culture in the provinces; the influence of pre-conquest society on provincial culture; social inequality and changing identities of non-elites, and the relationship between text and material in understanding ancient culture and society. Of principal interest will be the examination of the key similarities and differences between ancient and modern ‘globalisations’, using relevant parallels. Did Roman conquest and annexation usher in a new world of global cities and friends, or were material changes just a by-product of enslavement?

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe and evaluate the changes which Rome brought to western Europe and their impact on society at a variety of levels

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 2. Use, analyse and evaluate material evidence as a major source for understanding the ancient world
  • 3. Develop advanced academic and library skills
  • 4. Develop a critical ability in assessing published literature

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to select and organise relevant material
  • 7. Present a strong argument in oral and written form
  • 8. Discuss issues in a peer group

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:

  • Roman material cultures
  • Globalisation, Rome and World History
  • Connectivity and Time-Space Compression
  • Mapping global practice: inscriptions and literacy
  • Mapping global practice: food and diet
  • Styles of mass consumption and the cultural imagination
  • World systems and market integration
  • The global network of cities and friends
  • Colonialism and globalisation
  • Cities and globalisation
  • The Roman military as a global institution

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 teaching2211 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching44 x 1 hour seminars
Guided independent study124Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in seminar discussionsWithin 1 hour seminars1-8Oral feedback
Oral presentation5-10 minutes3-8Oral feedback and written comments

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
Two essays (the better mark of the two essays will be used)501500 words each1-7Mark and written comments
Examination502 hours1-7Mark 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
EssaysEssay 1-7Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-7Referral/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

Core reading:

  • Pitts, M, and M.J Versluys. 2015. Globalisation and the Roman world. World history, connectivity and material culture. Cambridge University Press.
  • Mattingly, D. J. 2010. Imperialism, power and identity. Experiencing the Roman empire. Princeton University Press. 

Other recommended reading:

  • Cunliffe, B. 1988. Greeks, Romans and barbarians. Spheres of interaction. London: Guild Publishing.
  • Hingley, R. 2005. Globalizing Roman culture. Unity, diversity and empire. London: Routledge. 
  • Hopkins, K. 1978. Conquerors and slaves. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Jennings, J. 2011. Globalizations and the ancient world. CUP.
  • Revell, L. 2009. Roman imperialism and local identities. CUP.
  • Scheidel, W., Morris, I and Saller, R. 2007. The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman world. CUP.
  • Woolf, G. 1998. Becoming Roman. The origins of provincial civilization in Gaul. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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Last revision date