Classics (Classical Civilisation) MA/MA(SocSci)

Rhetoric At Rome CLASSIC4006

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

Short Description

This course offers the opportunity to study Roman rhetorical theory and its practical manifestation in a representative range of Roman speeches. It covers the history and development of rhetoric at Rome in dialogue with Greek models, the variety of theoretical approaches and their adaptation to the conditions of public speech at Rome, and the relationship between rhetoric, public speaking and the change from Republic to Empire. Cicero's speeches are the main focus for practical analysis, as the only surviving complete speeches from the Republican period, but the course also considers declamation, imperial speech-writing, and fragmentary evidence.


Two hours per week as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Classics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Examination (90 minute duration) - 50%

Rhetorical analysis of a passage from a speech (2,500 words) - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which 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 will provide the opportunity to:

■ Learn and apply a range of Roman rhetorical theories

■ Explore the role of rhetoric within Roman educational theory and practice;

■ Explore a representative range of Roman oratory in its political, legal and social context

■ Explore how Roman orators used rhetorical theory in their speeches in order to achieve specific practical ends

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Apply a detailed understanding of ancient rhetorical theory and its relevance to Roman education and culture

■ Apply rhetorical theory to the analysis of Roman speeches

■ Illustrate critical skills through close reading of passages of ancient rhetorical texts

■ Locate a representative range of Roman speeches in their political, legal and social contexts

■ Analyse and comment perceptively on passages from Roman oratory

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.