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City of Rome - Outline & Learning Outcomes

Lectures of this module take place on Tuesdays from 5-7 in A0.23

There will be two Seminars each in the Autumn and Spring terms (weeks 4 and 8), in which students will make presentations on specific buildings, considering both archaeological, historical, and literary evidence.


This course is organised chronologically and thematically so as to explore the urban experience of living in Rome over time. The aim is to build the students knowledge as the city itself was constructed: layer by layer from the foundation upwards; and to teach students how to identify and use varying types of evidence in reconstructing a picture of the ancient city.

Term 1 will take students from the foundation of the city and the origin of most building types in the Republican period to the innovations made by the Julio-Claudians. We will consider not only the 'grand designs' of Emperors and benefactors, but how people experienced the city in day to day life, through roads, sewers, apartment blocks and markets. Does 'restoring' a building mean retaining its function? How are historical events reflected in the cities monuments and buildings?

Term 2 will consider how the city changed under the Empire: how it expanded, how it developed, how it was rebuilt and restored after a series of fires (as well as how its monuments were reused). How did these developments change the urban experience? While the first term focuses on living, the second term will focus more on aspects of religion & cult (including Christianity), dying and the afterlife of the city, its monuments and its people.

Term 3 will mainly include exam revision.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to show skills of visual analysis by:
• demonstrating an understanding of the topography of the City of Rome;
• demonstrating an understanding of the chronology, political events and institutional structures of the City of Rome;
• demonstrating an understanding of the monuments, the material culture and culture from of Rome;
• demonstrating an understanding of how the former points shape the history of the City of Rome;
• demonstrating an understanding of the importance of Rome in the wider Empire, in historiography and in later periods of Western culture;
• describing and interpreting the composition, style and iconography of a range of ancient documents and art-works
• commenting on the integration of words and images on public monuments;
• demonstrating skills in the evaluation of primary source material and secondary literature;
• individually, and as a member of a team, research, analyse and contextualise relevant information and evidence from primary and secondary sources in the form of a structured argument.
They will also be able to show the following intellectual skills:

  • Critical awareness of the advantages and limitations of visual material in the study of the ancient world;
  • The ability to evaluate the merits of different methodological approaches to the material;
  • The ability to select and present material clearly and with a coherent argument both verbally and in writing.

Additionally, 3rd year students will develop:

  • The ability to set their findings into a wider comparative context, drawing in other aspects of the study of the ancient world
  • The ability to seek out appropriate secondary literature and show discernment in the types of primary evidence addressed.