Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

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

Undergraduate Course: The Transformation of the Roman World, ca. 300-800: Towards Byzantium and the Early Medieval West (ANHI08015)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course looks at the political, cultural and religious translation undergone by the Roman empire - and with it classical civilisation - in Late Antiquity (ca. 300-ca. 800). How did the monolithic late Roman state give way to Germanic kingdoms in western Europe, and develop into the Greek-speaking Byzantine empire of the eastern Mediterranean? And how did the monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam, establish themselves and impact politics and everyday life across the Mediterranean and Near East?
Course description The period now known as Late Antiquity, from ca. 300-800, was traditionally disdained as one of decadence, and ignored for falling between the ancient and medieval worlds. But in the last forty years, Late Antiquity has become viewed as a period in its own right and as one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of historical study. Late Antiquity sees new powerbrokers - barbarian generals, court eunuchs, bishops and holy men and women - and profound changes: above all, the transformation of the Roman empire in the west to Germanic kingdoms and in the east to the Greek-speaking Byzantine state, and the spread and political establishment of Christianity and, later, Islam.

The course is divided into roughly three areas: it opens by studying the late Roman empire of the fourth and fifth centuries, with themes including social relations in a sharply hierarchical and unequal society, the growth of Christianity, and the external and internal tensions which eventually led to the end of the western empire. Thereafter the course alternates between west and east, looking at the development of the post-Roman west down to the age of Charlemagne and at the vicissitudes of the Byzantine empire through the age of Justinian, the great war against Persia, the Arab invasions, and Iconoclasm. The central themes of the course are understanding the political transformations of the period in relationship to profound social, cultural, and religious change, and preparing students for the many more specialised courses on the period available at honours level.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in any first level course achieved no later than August of the previous academic year
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have taken at least one course in Classics or History.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  145
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 164 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
2,500 word Essay (40%)

Two-hour examination (60%)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser or relevant tutors during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the late antique period and its political, cultural and religious developments;
  2. demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the different types of source material, e.g. historiographical, hagiographical, documentary, epigraphic, and archaeological, and the problems associated with their transmission;
  3. demonstrate understanding and knowledge of how different traditions of modern scholarship have understood major historical shifts such as the end of the Roman empire or the rise of Islam;
  4. demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the distinctions and interactions of the various cultures of the late antique Mediterranean between ca. 300 and ca. 800;
  5. demonstrate understanding of the challenges of covering a period in which the quantity of surviving evidence can vary very considerably.
Reading List
P.R.L. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971)

L. Brubaker and J. Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680-850: A history (Cambridge, 2011)

A.M. Cameron, The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity: A.D. 395-700 (London 2011)

L. Grig and G. Kelly (eds), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (New York, 2012)

J. Haldon, The Empire that would not die. The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640-740 (Cambridge 2016)

G. Halsall, Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, AD 376-568 (Cambridge, 2007)

M. Maas, The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian (Cambridge, 2005)

F. Millar, A Greek Roman Empire (Berkeley, 2006)

P. Sarris, Empires of Faith: The Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam, 500-700 (Oxford, 2011)

J. Smith, Europe after Rome: A New Cultural History, 500-1000 (Oxford, 2005)

C. Wickham, The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 (London, 2009)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Laura Donati
Course secretaryMiss Marketa Vejskalova
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