The Later Roman Empire, 270-400 AD (PG) CLASSIC5079

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores the history of the later Roman Empire, in a period ranging from the end of the so called third century crisis until the beginning of the so called Barbarian Invasions or Migration Period. It will cover both the political and institutional history of the later Roman state, as well as exploring the rise of Christianity and the major intellectual and social movements of the fourth century AD, perhaps the best documented period in Roman history.


10x1hr lectures, 10x1hr seminars across 10 weeks of one semester.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses

The Later Roman Empire, 270-400 AD (Honours)




Essay (5000 words) on a research topic determined by the student

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Introduce students to the social and political later Roman Empire, a period of enormous vitality, and to familiarise them with its main developments

■ Study some of the most important primary sources from the period, both in traditional genres like history and oratory, but also in emerging genres such as hagiography and confessional literature

■ Explore questions of periodisation, and whether the late Roman world belongs properly to the ancient or medieval period

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Analyse the late Roman state and describe in detail the evolution of the administrative and military superstructure of the Empire, as well as show awareness of the changes in the social hierarchy, their causes and effects

■ Evaluate how both Christianity and paganism expressed themselves through literature, space, material culture, and social hierarchy and to explore how the conflict between these two broadly defined

■ Indicate how historiographical consideration of the late Roman period has profoundly affected its presentation (particularly in relation to questions of periodisation and to the notion of decline) across a range of periods from the medieval, early modern, and modern, but with particular focus on developments since the 1960s

■ Think about religious, social, and political movements in sociological and anthropological terms, and understand how power and patronage functioned in a stratified society

■ Develop an independent research project exploring some aspect of late Roman history

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.