MA Classics and Ancient History

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Caesar's Wars

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE66711
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 is an examination of Caesar’s military career and the wars he fought against both external and internal opponents. It examines the nature of Caesar’s army and his generalship from both tactical and strategic perspectives. It also looks at how we know about Caesar’s wars. The course is driven through a close, critical reading of Caesar’s own texts and comparing them with both the other literary sources available to us and our extant archaeological remains.


  • To examine the wars described in Caesar’s writings and the ways in which they are presented by those writings
  • To introduce students to relevant literary and archaeological data concerning the campaigns covered in the Caesarian corpus
  • To enable students to locate key information concerning the wars and texts studied
  • To enable students to assess critically the various forms of evidence available to them.
  • 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

At the end of the course students will:

  • Be familiar with the Caesarian Corpus of writing and its authors
  • Have an understanding of the nature Roman Army and the waging of war in the late 1st century BC
  • Have a firm understanding of the evolution and outcomes of Caesar’s Wars.
  • Be familiar with techniques of interpreting ancient texts.

Intellectual skills

By the end of the course students will:

  • Be able to construct a coherent argument both in written and oral forms.


  • Be able to identify and locate relevant information in a range of sources
  • Be able to engage critically and analytically with this information
  • Be able to present the results of their research in an appropriate fashion, with detailed and accurate references to sources and modern published scholarship.

Practical skills

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


  • Construct a cogent and complex argument in written and oral form
  • Manage time effectively

Transferable skills and personal qualities

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

  • construct and defend cogent arguments in written and oral form
  • pose relevant questions about complex issues
  • locate and synthesise relevant information from primary and secondary sources
  • locate relevant material from electronic resources
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence
  • manage time
  • engage in critical discussion.

Employability skills

The course imparts the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a cogent fashion in both written and oral forms, to analyse and examine complex information and discern the key issues which underlie it and the ability to construct coherent arguments from that information. It will also improve students¿ oral presentation skills

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback






Recommended reading

K Raaflaub & R Strassler (ed.s) The Landmark Caesar

T Rice Holmes, Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul

K Welsh, Caesar as Artful Reporter

R Maguire (tr) Napoleon’s Commentaries on Julius Caesar

JFC Fuller, Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, and Tyrant

A Fitzpatrick and C Haselgrove, Julius Caesar’s Battle for Gaul: New Archaeological Perspectives

C Meier, Caesar

H Pratt Judson, Caesar’s Army

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
Andrew Fear Unit coordinator

Additional notes

14 hours seminar work (7 sessions)

3 hours of coursework support and supervision,

3 hours of dedicated Office hour time

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