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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Law and Life of Rome (ANHI10058)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaAncient History Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe course offers an introduction to the study of the
relationship between law and life in Roman society.
Whilst the legal debates and decisions of ancient (esp.
imperial) Rome have produced the single largest body
of textual evidence from Roman antiquity ('Roman
law'), students of ancient history are only rarely
exposed to this rich source material, made up primarily
of compilations and handbooks produced in the mid to
late Roman Empire (e.g. the Digest, Justinian's
Institutes, Gaius' Institutes, etc.). Next to the study of
topics that are crucial for our understanding of Roman
society (e.g. aspects of slavery, gender relations), the
course aims in particular to investigate the
interrelationship between law and life, and with this the
question as to how the legal evidence available for
study today may be used to understand better ancient
Roman society.
The course is taught in tandem with LAWS10067 and
deliberately seeks to enhance student peer learning by
bringing together two quite different study
constituencies - one from Classics and one from Law.
In both content and form, the course is a direct
reflection of the research and teaching interests of the
course organisers, Dr Paul du Plessis (Law;
LAWS10067) and Dr Ulrike Roth (Classics; ANHI10058).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A Pass in Ancient History 2A (ANHI08014) AND Ancient History 2B (ANHI08013) are usually required; or at the Course Organiser's discretion.
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting Students should usually have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. By the end of the course, students who complete the course successfully will have demonstrated
in written coursework as well as class room discussion knowledge and understanding of:
i. a sizeable amount of the Roman legal evidence
ii. a variety of Roman legal sources
iii. the different types of questions asked by historians of this type of evidence
iv. the different types of questions asked by lawyers of this type of evidence
v. the different problems that this body of evidence poses for the historian compared with the
problems posed by other source bodies
vi. the location (or locations) of the Roman legal sources in the Roman 'evidential' landscape
vii. a variety of topics covered by the legal sources (as well as an understanding of what types of
topics are not covered by these sources)
iix. the differences between the approaches of ancient historians to this body of evidence and
those of legal scholars and lawyers
ix. the relatedness of the study of ancient law with the study of other aspects of the ancient
(Roman) world
x. the importance of wide-reaching reading, as well as independent and original thought to come
to terms with the relationship of law and life at Rome
In similar fashion, they will demonstrate skill and expertise in:
xi. dealing independently with a wide-ranging body of information pertaining to the study of Roman
2. In similar fashion, they will demonstrate skill and expertise in:
xi. dealing independently with a wide-ranging body of information pertaining to the study of Roman law, digest, structure and comment on this information;
xii. 'thinking on their feet' about the relationship between law and life at Rome, i.e. to make fast and
spontaneous connections between different aspects covered in the source material, often not
studied in one and the same class;
xiii. 'intellectual problem solving' within the given field of study, i.e. the production of answers to
questions that demand independent soliciting and 'discovery' of source materials and secondary
reading pertaining to the study of the weekly study themes and Roman law in general;
xiv. maintaining complex information about Roman law over a sustained period of time and to
access this information as and when necessary;
xv. accessing, understanding, and employing the standard conventions in the field, from
publisher's conventions (e.g. bibliographical styles, referencing systems, text displays, etc.) to
scholarly conventions in the study of Roman legal evidence and related source materials (e.g.
epigraphic abbreviations, legal and literary referencing, etc.)
Assessment Information
The assessment for the course is by way of written coursework: 100% for a 4,000 word essay.
In addition to the assessed coursework essay, students will moreover be given the opportunity to
submit a formative coursework essay at the end of Week 6 (see 'Content of Course', section 1
above). This formative coursework essay will be limited to 2,000 words. It will be marked within 2
weeks, and returned to the students in Week 9. The marks given for this piece of coursework do
not form part of the assessment for this course, and the essay will not be (marked) anonymised.
Students will incur no penalty for not submitting the formative coursework essay. The sole purpose
of the formative coursework essay is to allow students to gain a clear sense of their progress and
to have a first go at the composition of an essay on the subject matter of the course. Following the
return of the formative coursework essay to the students in Week 9, each student is allocated a
15-minute slot in Week 9 or Week 10 with the course organiser to discuss the comments made in
writing on the essay in order to enhance the feedback received by the students on their work and
to provide an additional, structured space for discussion of their work and learning curve on a one-to-
one basis. All this is aimed at setting students on a very good footing for the writing of the
4,000-word coursework essay on which the assessment for this course is based.
Special Arrangements
In order for a student from outwith Classics to be enrolled, contact must be made with a Course Secretary on 50 3580 in order for approval to be obtained.
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus W1: Introduction: The development of Roman legal writing
W2: Men, women, and the law
W3: Slave and free in Roman law
W4: The family in Roman law
W5: Private property and legal protection
W6: Revision and formative coursework writing week
W7: Orators and jurists
W8: Insult, libel and Roman virtues
W9: 'Thou shall love thy neighbour'
W10: The strange case of the rainwater pipe in Roman law
W11: Conclusion: From legal texts to law and/or ancient history?
Transferable skills In addition to the ILOs described above, students will also demonstrate a number of transferable
skills, such as
¿ reading skills of a high volume (i.e. the digestion of large quantities of textual material)
¿ general analytical skills
¿ written and verbal communication skills
¿ oral presentation and discussion skills
Reading list Alexander: The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era (2002)
Birks: New light on the Roman legal system: the appointment of judges 1988 Cambridge LJ 36-60
Birks: A new argument for a narrow view of litem suam facere 1984 TvR 373-387.
Brennan: The Praetorship in the Roman Republic (2000)
Buckland: The Roman Law of Slavery (1908)
Cairns and Du Plessis: Beyond Dogmatics. Law and Society in the Roman World (2007)
Cifferi: Cicero¿s conception of iurisprudentia 1991 RIDA 103-119
Crook: Legal Advocacy in the Roman World (1995)
Daube: The peregrine praetor 1951 JRS 66-70
Du Plessis: Borkowski's Textbook on Roman Law (2010)
Du Plessis: The slave in the window, in Roth (ed.) By the Sweat of Your Brow. Roman Slavery in
its Socio-Economic Setting (2010) 49-60
Du Plessis: The creation of legal principle 2008 RLT 46-69
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr Ulrike Roth
Tel: (0131 6)50 3586
Course secretaryMs Elaine Hutchison
Tel: (0131 6)50 3582
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