University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Roman Imperialism (ANHI10018)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course aims to be an in-depth analysis of a major aspect of Roman history, namely that of Rome's drive for empire. In little over two centuries, Rome was transformed from an Italian city to mistress of the Mediterranean world, and the foundations of an empire were laid which was eventually to cover the Mediterranean basin and much of northern Europe and the Middle East. All this was achieved with institutions that remained those of a city-state. The course analyses the structures, social, economic, political, religious and military that allowed what can reasonably be described as one of the greatest success stories of imperialism in antiquity.
Course description The course offers focussed study of Rome's drive for empire in the republican period. It is particularly concerned with how Rome achieved to subdue other Mediterranean powers, and how Rome managed to stay in control.

A typical class schedule may look like this:

Class 1: Opening the stage: invitations, opportunities, and a bunch of excuses?
Class 2: Seeing red: generals, senators, and the masses
Class 3: Praying hard: priests, Mars, and sacred chicks
Class 4: Driving for empire: slaves, masters, and peasants
Class 5: Organising conquest: provinces, veterans, and spinsters
Class 6: 'Economising' Roman imperialism: Cato, geography, and mines
Class 7: Choosing sides: peasants, senators, and aliens (Debating class)
Class 8: Looking east: Athens, Thucydides, and a war
Class 9: Hellenising the West: Cato (again), Cicero, and a senatorial decree
Class 10: Ending an empire: Tacitus, the pax Augusta, and a myth

More precisely, the course will look at the workings of various aspects of Roman republican history that are essential for an understanding of the period as a whole. Individual lectures will focus on the distribution of power, the use and abuse of power, the role of political institutions vis-a-vis the powers maintained by individuals, the interplay between religion and politics, the social structures that fostered a competitive political elite, the economy that fuelled imperial expansion, the role of the military and its organisation in successful combat.

Furthermore, the course will analyse a range of aspects foregrounded by modern scholarship, e.g. the nature of Roman imperialism, the relationship between the study of individual happenings and that of a longue durée, the significance of various gender roles - and their potential to have an impact on mainstream narratives, the historiography of the study of (Roman) imperialism, etc. The student should acquire familiarity with both seminal aspects of Roman history and its scholarly investigation. In doing so, the student will be exposed to a range of evidence, from archaeological, to epigraphic and literary sources, as well as to a range of approaches to the topic.

Because of the wider historical significance of the topic ('Imperialism'), the students should also acquire a more sophisticated understanding of the interrelatedness of the study of (period)over-arching themes and topics - and thus a wider and more integrated understanding of history as a discipline.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in two Level 2 Ancient History courses (Ancient History 2A and Ancient History 2B), or at the discretion of the course organiser.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter(at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate in class discussion, coursework, and a written exam an understanding of the complexity of the topic ('Roman imperialism') and its interrelatedness with other important topics and periods
  2. demonstrate in class discussion, coursework, and a written exam an ability to use critically a variety of different categories of material, epigraphic and literary evidence
  3. demonstrate in class discussion, coursework, and a written exam an understanding of some of the major methodological issues arising from the study of Roman imperialism
  4. demonstrate in class discussion, coursework, and a written exam knowledge of some important aspects of Rome's drive for empire, especially socio-economic, political, religious and military structures
  5. demonstrate in class discussion, coursework, and a written exam an awareness of some of the differences and similarities between ancient and modern imperialism
Reading List
E. Badian, Roman Imperialism in the Late Republic (1968)
M. Beard and M.H. Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic (1985)
N. Ferguson, Empire. How Britain Made the Modern World (2003)
P. Garnsey and C.R. Whittaker (eds.), Imperialism in the Ancient World (1978)
W.V. Harris (ed.), The Imperialism of Mid-Republican Rome (1984)
W.V. Harris, War and Imperialism in Republican Rome, 327-70BC (1979)
K. Hopkins, Conquerors and Slaves (1978)
D.J. Mattingly (ed.), Dialogues in Roman Imperialism (1997)
N. Morley, 'The transformation of Italy, 225-28BC', JRS 91 (2001), 50-62
J. North, 'The development of Roman imperialism', JRS 71 (1981), 1-10
K.A. Raaflaub, 'Born to be wolves? The origins of Roman imperialism', in R.W. Wallace and E.M. Harris (eds.), Transitions to Empire (1996), 273-314
J.S. Richardson, The Language of Empire (2009)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Tutorial hours to be arranged in the first class meeting.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ulrike Roth
Tel: (0131 6)50 3586
Course secretary
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information