Greek MA

Imperium Indivisum?: The Collapse of the West Roman Empire in the fifth century AD CLASSIC4085

  • 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 examines the political history of the Roman Empire during the fifth century AD, with a close focus on the social, political, and economic causes and effects of the end of Roman power in Western Europe. It will examine the emergence of the so-called barbarian kingdoms and also ask students to think about the relationship between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. Above all, it will explore the question of why Empires fall.



2x1hr seminars per week over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. At least one seminar will be held in the Hunterian coin rooms. 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 minute duration) - 50%

Essay (3000 words) - 50%

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. 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:

■ Introduce the political history of the fifth century AD, with a focus on three main themes: 1. The breakdown of West Roman Power; 2. The emergence of barbarian 'successor kingdoms'; 3. The survival of the East Roman Empire

■ Understand the currents of historical debate surrounding the fall of the west Roman Empire and the enormous influence that modern ideologies have upon our reading of the period

■ Assess the various contributions of military, social, and economic factors in the collapse of the Roman state

■ Explore the ideology of the later Roman state and the way in which that ideology affected decision making at macro and micro levels

■ Explore the relationship between centre and periphery in the late Roman world and the way in which crisis effected local populations. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Display an understanding of the major events of fifth century history

■ Unite written and archaeological sources to build a rounded picture of fifth century history

■ Employ literary and legal texts to explore the impact of macro policies at a micro level

■ Relate their understanding of this period to more generalised questions of the life cycles of Empires and the mechanisms by which power, control, and authority are able to change hands 

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.