Classics (Classical Civilisation) MA/MA(SocSci)

The Later Roman Empire, 270-400 AD CLASSIC4082

  • 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

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.


10x1 hour lectures; 10x1 hour seminars per week over 10 weeks 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





Exam (90 minutes) - 50%

Essay (3,000 words) - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course will provide an opportunity 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:

■ Understand and analyse the late Roman state and appreciate it evolution from the early imperial period

■ Understand 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

■ Understand the modern historiography of the late Roman period, particularly in relation to questions of periodisation and to the notion of decline

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

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.