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Level 6

6AACAR13 Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20
: Dr John Pearce
Teaching pattern
: 20 x 2-hour class (weekly) Subject to collection availability, one class will take place in the British Museum and one in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Other visits to relevant museum collections or sites may be arranged.
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment 2019/20: 1 x 3-hour exam (100%)

Graduate Diploma / Assessment patterns pre-2019/20 

Undergraduate: 1 x 3-hour exam (50%); 2 x 2,500 word commentaries (25% each)

Graduate Diploma: 

  • 2019/20 onwards: 2 x 3,000-word essays (higher marked essay is weighted at 60%, while the lower is weighted at 40%)
  • Pre 2019/20: 3 x 3,000-word essay (100%, each essay worth 1/3)

Prerequisites: None, although it will help to have taken or to be taking any of 5AACHI06 Roman Britain or 6AACAR09 Archaeology of the western Roman provinces.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand, there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

The frontiers of the Roman empire are some of the most evocative remnants of antiquity, from Hadrian’s Wall ‘marvellously rising and falling’ across the Northumberland hills to the deserts of Jordan and Syria, where Roman forts sometimes still stand to their original height. The topics studied in the module include the relationship between frontiers and Roman imperialism, the roles they played in the violent and non-violent exercise of Roman power, the character of the cosmopolitan frontier societies, including the garrisons of soldiers, their dependents and the peoples living in proximity to them and the socio-economic, cultural and environmental impact of the military presence on provincials and ‘barbarians’.

The module will explore evidence from Hadrian’s Wall, continental Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The chronological focus lies on the first to fifth centuries AD. The sources used comprise inscriptions, buildings, art and artefacts from the frontiers themselves and historical works. Texts will be studied in translation.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • Elton, H. 1996. Frontiers of the Roman Empire, London: Batsford.
  • Breeze, D. 2011. Frontiers of Imperial Rome, Barnsley: Pen and Sword.
  • Whittaker. C. R. 1994. Frontiers of the Roman Empire: a Social and Economic Study, Baltimore / London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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