MA Classics and Ancient History

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Augustan Rome

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE64031
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course looks at Augustan Rome, from the young Octavian’s first entry into politics in 44 BC, to his death while Emperor in AD 14. The course studies the politics, society, and material culture of this transformative period of history. Through a series of seminar discussions we will investigate how the age of Augustus transformed the city of Rome in terms of its political and social culture, and its physical fabric. We will study Augustus’ self-presentation throughout this period, and how this related to the political change. We will pose and assess a range of questions such as: how did Augustus present his new order to the people of Rome; what effect did this new order have on the differing social and cultural groups of Rome; how can we reconstruct the specifics of Augustus’ political and religious domination of the Roman world; and how do we understand his position within Roman society? 


  • To explore how the city of Rome and Roman politics developed in the Augustan period;
  • To introduce students to relevant work in classical studies;
  • To assess critically the various forms of evidence—textual, archaeological, artistic, epigraphic, numismatic;
  • To cover a range of case studies from Augustan Rome;
  • Where appropriate, to develop the linguistic skills to work with primary sources in Greek and Latin;
  • To develop students’ skills of written expression and production of coherent arguments, at a level appropriate to work that will form part of the final assessment;
  • To develop students’ skills of oral expression

Knowledge and understanding

  • to develop a full understanding of the politics, society, and material culture of Augustan Rome
  • to identify and explain the lasting effects of the Augustan period on the rest of Roman history
  • to demonstrate understanding of the different modern approaches to the study of the Augustan period
  • to analyse why the Augustan period developed as it did


Intellectual skills

  • To construct an argument in written and oral form
  • to assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence
  • to engage critically and analytically with this evidence
  • to conduct independent research
  • to present the results in a professional manner with appropriate and detailed reference to sources and modern published scholarship.

Practical skills

  • To manage time
  • to work co-operatively in small groups
  • to engage in critical discussion and debate

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • construct an argument in written and oral form;
  • pose questions about complex issues;
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources;
  • conduct bibliographic searches;
  • present results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship;
  • use e-resources and gain knowledge of research methods and resources;
  • manage time and resources;
  • engage in critical discussion.

Employability skills

The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine complex information, an ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form, the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.

Assessment methods


Assessment task Formative or Summative Length Weighting within unit (if summative)

academic book review Formative 1000

essay Summative 4000 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback

Formative and Summative

Oral feedback



Recommended reading

Eck, W. (2003), The Age of Augustus

Edmondson, J. (2009), Augustus

Favro, D. (1996), The Urban Image of Augustan Rome

Galinsky, K. (2012), Augustus: introduction to the life of an emperor

Levick, B. (2010), Augustus: Image and Substance

Syme, R. (1939), The Roman Revolution

Wallace-Hadrill, A. (1993), Augustan Rome

Zanker, P. (1988), The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 3
Project supervision 3
Seminars 14
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mary Beagon Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Seminars (14 hours)

Coursework support and supervision sessions (3 hours, timetabled)

3 dedicated consultation hours.

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