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Study information

Cultural Transformations in Late Antiquity

Module titleCultural Transformations in Late Antiquity
Module codeCLAM104
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Richard Flower (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Module description

This module explores a range of shifts in late-antique society and the ways in which these were expressed in the cultural products of the period. It covers a variety of different genres of literature (both fiction and non-fiction), which either came into being or were reformulated in response to changing political, social and religious circumstances.

This course will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand the history and culture of late antiquity in greater depth, especially those who are studying Classics, History or Theology. Prior knowledge of the Roman and/or early medieval world will be an advantage, but is not a pre-requisite. Students who have taken CLA3108 (‘The World of Late Antiquity’) will find that this module offers them the opportunity to explore in much greater depth some of the topics of social, cultural, religious and political change that were touched upon in their earlier studies, as well as being able to spend time analysing some less well-known texts in more detail.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will give you the opportunity to engage closely with important texts from late antiquity, including many with which you were probably previously unfamiliar. It will help you to think about the subtleties of change and continuity during this period through a nuanced exploration of both the literary products that were created and also the competing influences and concerns that contributed to their formation. This format will therefore allow you to marry the ‘historical’ and the ‘literary’ in your analysis of the ancient material.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Knowledge and critical analysis of a range of different forms and examples of literature from late antiquity
  • 2. A broader understanding of the history and culture of this period and the ways in which it has been interpreted

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Development of skills in reading and interpreting sophisticated classical texts and placing them within a historical context
  • 4. Comprehension of the impact of radical redefinitions of ideologies on social and political discourse and behaviour

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Development of analytical close-reading skills of different types of text and identification and pursuit of the implications of their most significant characteristics within their cultural context
  • 6. Ability to present ideas within a clear and focused discussion of a particular topic, combining detailed discussion of a particular theme/issue with an awareness of modern scholarly debate and interpretations

Syllabus plan

Each of the five two-hour seminars will cover a different genre (or genres) of literature, with particular texts being explored in each of the five one-hour reading groups. You will be introduced to histories and chronicles (both ‘religious’ and ’secular’); biographies and hagiographies; panegyrics, invectives and heresiologies; law codes and compilations; and a variety of different poetic innovations (including rewritings of Homer and Virgil in centos).

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 teaching15Intensive seminar and reading group teaching
Guided independent study135Working independently and in groups in preparation for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Close study of primary texts and images and of secondary material both individually outside class and in class; whole group discussions and debates arising from these and designed to address issues more broadly1-5Oral feedback in seminars; further discussion in office hours, if required

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
Essay804000 words1-6Mark; written and oral feedback
Oral presentation2015-20 mins1-6Mark; written and oral feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6Referral/Deferral period
Oral presentationEssay1-6Referral/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 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • P. Rousseau (ed.), A Companion to Late Antiquity, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
  • S. Johnson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, OUP, 2012.
  • C. Kelly, R. Flower and M. S. Williams (edd.), Unclassical Traditions, Volume I and II, Cambridge Philological Society, 2010-2011.
  • M. Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity, Brill, 1998.
  • R. Rees (ed.), Latin Panegyric, OUP, 2012.
  • J. Harries and I. Wood (edd.), The Theodosian Code: Studies in the Imperial Law of Late Antiquity, Duckworth, 1993 (2nd edn, 2010).
  • S. McGill, Virgil Recomposed: The Mythological and Secular Centos in Antiquity, OUP, 2005.
  • T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (edd.), Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, California UP, 2000.
  • J. Howard-Johnston and P. A. Hayward (edd.), The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, OUP, 1999.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Feb 2013

Last revision date