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Study information

Living in the Roman World: Society and Culture

Module titleLiving in the Roman World: Society and Culture
Module codeCLA3257
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Claire Holleran (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This course will explore the experience of living in the Roman world, for ordinary people as well as the wealthy elite,  focusing in particular on the society and culture of Italy and the western provinces. It will consider the conditions of everyday life, including diet, health, housing and family; the organisation of the economy and the evidence for any improvement in living standards under the Roman Empire; population structures; migration, mobility, and travel; the structure of society, the different social groups and the relationships between them; leisure and entertainment; and the question of how Romans thought about themselves and other people. You will learn how to analyse and interpret a wide variety of ancient material, including archaeology, art, graffiti, and inscriptions, as well as many different kinds of literary evidence. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • To provide you with a thorough and detailed understanding of Roman social and economic structures, and of the main features of life in the Roman world. You will develop your critical skills by using a wide range of ancient sources and addressing the particular difficulties raised by using these sources to write social and economic history.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Detailed knowledge of the society, economy, and culture of the Roman world
  • 2. Familiarity with a wide range of sources pertaining to Roman society, economy and culture
  • 3. Ability to analyse problems raised by this source material

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Development of critical approaches to ancient source material
  • 5. Experience in conducting independent research in Classics and Ancient History
  • 6. Experience 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. Development of skills in critical analysis
  • 8. Ability to digest and organise diverse information to form a coherent argument
  • 9. Experience in writing an analytical essay or report
  • 10. Experience in conducting independent research
  • 11. Development of teamworking skills through small group work
  • 12. Experience of discussing issues with 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: 

  • Diet, health, and disease 

  • Living conditions 

  • Family life 

  • Childhood and old age 

  • Women 

  • Slavery and freedom 

  • Demography 

  • Agriculture 

  • Manufacturing and trade 

  • Social structure and social relationships 

  • The impact of the army 

  • Urbanisation 

  • Education 

  • Law 

  • Migration, mobility, and travel 

  • Ideas of ‘Romanitas’  

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 teaching441 x 2 hour seminar per week
Guided independent study256Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Informal presentations (or online equivalent) and participation in group discussionWeekly11-12Verbal 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
Essay 1353000 words1-10Mark and written comments
Essay 2353000 words1-10Mark and written comments
Gobbet test 1151 hour1-10Mark and written comments
Gobbet test 2151 hour1-10Mark 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
EssayEssay1-10Referral/Deferral period
Gobbet testGobbet test1-10Referral/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

  • G. S. Aldrete, Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia (Greenwood, Westport, Conn.; 2004) 

  • G. AlföldyThe Social History of Rome (Routledge, London: 1988) 

  • P. Garnsey and R. Saller, The Roman Empire: Economy, Society and Culture, 2nd ed. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2015). 

  • M. Gibbs, M. Nikolic, and P. Ripat (eds.)Themes in Roman Society and Culture (Oxford University Press, Oxford: 2013) 

  • T. G. Parkin and A. J. Pomeroy, Roman Social History: A Sourcebook (Routledge, London: 2007). 

  • W. Scheidel, I. Morris, and R. Saller (eds.)The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 2007). 

  • J. A. Shelton, As the Romans Did: a sourcebook in Roman social history (Oxford University Press, Oxford: 1998). 

  • S. Treggiari, Roman Social History (Routledge, London: 2002). 

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

The successful completion of at least 90 credits at Level 2, 30 credits of which must be in Classics and Ancient History.

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date