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

Undergraduate Course: Custodians of Empire: The Praetorian Guard (ANHI10034)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will examine the praetorian guard from its establishment to its demise in AD 312, considering aspects as diverse as the physical make-up of the unit and the political influence that it had in Rome.
Course description The praetorian guard was an elite Roman military force, in existence for over three hundred years. Adapted from a republican institution by Augustus, it was in essence the personal army of the emperor, and, within a very short time, was also responsible for specialised military tasks and for various administrative duties in Rome. Topics to be considered include the background to the praetorians; their role as bodyguard; their use in civic duties in the capital (e.g. policing the games); and finally the more nefarious duties to which they were assigned on behalf of the emperor (e.g. spying and executions).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World (ANHI08014)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Custodians of Empire: The Praetorian Guard (Online) (PGHC11551)
Other requirements Passing Ancient History 2a (ANHI08014) is compulsory, unless 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
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  28
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 17, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 155 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
1,500 word Creative Piece (20%)
2,500 word Essay (30%)

2 hour paper (50%)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way coursework, an understanding of the military and political character of the praetorian guard throughout the period of the Empire;
  2. demonstrate, by way coursework, an understanding of the ways in which the guard interacted with various institutions in Rome and beyond;
  3. demonstrate, by way coursework, an understanding of the interaction of various sources of evidence (literary, epigraphic and archaeological) in the construction of an historical understanding of the guard.
Reading List
Austin, N.J.E. & N.B. Rankov (1995) Exploratio: Military and Political Intelligence in the Roman World from the Second Punic War to the Battle of Adrianople. London

Berriman, A. et al (2001) 'A very Roman coup: the hidden war of imperial succession, AD 96-8', Historia 50.3: 312-331

Bingham, S.J. (2013) The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome's Elite Special Forces. London

Bingham, S.J. (2003) 'Life on an island', Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 11: 376-400

Bingham, S.J. (1999) 'Security at the games in the early imperial period' EMC 18.3: 369-379

Coulston, J. (2000) ' "Armed and belted men": the soldiery in imperial Rome', in J. Coulston and H. Dodge (eds.), Ancient Rome: the Archaeology of the Eternal City. Oxford: 76-118

Durry, M. (1938) Les Cohortes Prétoriennes. Paris

Le Bohec, Y. (1994) The Imperial Roman Army. Batsford

Passerini, A.(1939) Le Coorti Pretorie. Rome

Speidel, M.P. (1994) Riding for Caesar. London

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements In order for a student from outwith Classics to be enrolled, contact must be made with a Classics Secretary on 50 3580 for approval to be obtained.
KeywordsPraetorian Guard
Course organiserDr Sandra Bingham
Tel: (0131 6)50 6689
Course secretaryMiss Claire Brown
Tel: (0131 6)50 3582
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