Skip to main content

Study information

Ancient Epigraphy

Module titleAncient Epigraphy
Module codeCLAM259
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Claire Holleran (Convenor)

Dr Charlotte Tupman (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Thousands of inscribed texts survive from the ancient world, ranging from monumental building dedications to tombstones, from graffiti scratched on walls to law codes hundreds of lines long. These writings are fundamental to our understanding of Greek and Roman society, and this module will explore how to use inscriptions in historical research, drawing on a wide range of examples, particularly from the Roman period. It will be taught entirely in translation and assumes no prior knowledge of inscriptions or ancient languages. Part of the course will be taught in conjunction with Leiden University, offering a unique opportunity to make connections with MA students and academics in the Netherlands.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to teach you how to approach an epigraphic text, and to understand how inscriptions can be used to write ancient history, exploring both their benefits and limitations as a historical source material. You will become familiar with the main epigraphic corpora and digital resources, and learn about different editions of texts (including digital editions). You will consider the importance of the materiality and physical context of an inscription, and think about what they can tell us about wider issues, such as self-representation, political life, urbanism, and human mobility in the ancient world.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of ancient epigraphy
  • 2. Understand an ancient inscription and how to make use of it in historical research
  • 3. Demonstrate a knowledge of the main epigraphic corpora and digital resources

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Develop skills in critically approaching ancient source material
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research in Classics and Ancient History
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability of formal academic writing in Classics and Ancient History

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Demonstrate further development of your skills in critical analysis
  • 8. Develop further your experience of discussing issues with your peer group both orally and in writing, including internationally
  • 9. Demonstrate experience of conducting independent research
  • 10. Demonstrate an ability to write an analytical essay or report
  • 11. Demonstrate an ability to digest and organize diverse information to form a coherent argument

Syllabus plan

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

  • the epigraphic habit
  • materiality and physical contexts
  • literacy
  • self-representation
  • connectivity and mobility
  • making editions of epigraphic texts (including digital encoding in epidoc)
  • epigraphic corpora and digital resources
  • dating of inscriptions.

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 Activities15In person and online (with Leiden) seminars
Guided Independent Study135Students working independently in preparation for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Forum Comments6 x 300-400 words1-11Mark and class discussion
Participation in Online ForumN/a1-11Mark and class discussion

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
Forum Comments 153 x 300-400 words (5% each)1-11Mark and class discussion
Essay 804000 words-7; 9-11Mark and class discussion
Participation in Online Forum5Ongoing through module1-11Mark and class discussion

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Forum CommentsForum Comments to convenor1-11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-7; 9-11Referral/deferral period
Participation in Online ForumRepeat Study/Mitigation1-11N/a

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. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bodel, J. (ed.), 2001. Epigraphic Evidence: Ancient History from Inscriptions (London)
  • Bruun, C. and J, Edmondson (eds), 2015. The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy (Oxford)
  • Cooley, A. 2012. The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy (Cambridge)
  • Keppie, L. 1991. Understanding Roman Inscriptions (Baltimore)
  • Millar, F. 1983. ‘Epigraphy’, in M. Crawford (ed.), Sources for Ancient History (Cambridge), 80-136.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE: 

Indicative learning resources - Other resources




Key words search

Epigraphy, Roman history, archaeology, inscriptions

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date