The Age of Justinian in the Mediterranean HIST4299

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Despite the disappearance of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, remained a major power in west Eurasian history. In the sixth century, its emperors, most notably Justinian, actively engaged with the wider world from (allegedly) Britain to central Asia, while the political, theological, and military conflicts of this period, not to mention the arrival of the plague in the 540s, also ushered in a period of transformation for the wider Mediterranean. Using a rich range of written and material sources from across Europe, Asia, and North Africa, this course will examine the end of late antiquity through a Mediterranean lens and explore how a Eurasian, even global, approach can be used to study the sixth century.


10 x 1-hour lectures and 10 x 1 hour seminars. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Course essay - 3,000 words - 60%

Report - 1000 words - reflection on editing a Wikipedia article relating to this module - 30%

Oral assessment: seminar participation - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ develop an understanding of the political, cultural, and social transformations that occurred in the sixth century Mediterranean.

■ assess a wide range of primary sources and hone students' skills in source criticism.

■ analyse and respond to key historiographical debates in the study of late antiquity.

■ engage with Wikipedia and reflect on how to present history to the wider public.

■ enhance students' oral presentation skills through seminar presentations.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


explain key developments in the history of the Mediterranean in the sixth century.

analyse and critique key debates in the historiography of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

articulate their arguments based on independent analysis and a wide range of sources in both oral

  presentations and written assessments.

apply their knowledge of the topic to editing Wikipedia articles and reflect on the problems and opportunities

  offered by this platform for public 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.