BA Art History and History / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
The Roman Outlook: Hellenisation & Roman Values

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE31432
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course examines aspects of Roman society in the Late Republic and early Empire, with emphasis on the period 100 BC- AD 100. Approximately the first third of the course deals with Roman values (e.g. aspects of the aristocratic ethic) and cultural attitudes and the reaction to the increasing hellenisation of Roman society in the later Republic. The rest of the course builds on these foundations and looks at individual areas of Roman life in the light of these values. Specific areas may include aspects of philosophy and religion, medicine, agriculture and seafaring, and the Roman games.


No pre-requisites, although CAHE 10022 Republic to Empire and/or CAHE 20051 Rome’s Golden Age  are helpful.

No co-requisites.

Anti-requisites: CAHE 21432 Roman Outlook (level 2 version)


To offer Level 3 undergraduate students the opportunity to study aspects of Roman society in a crucial period of cultural transition. At Level 3, a broader and more complex core of texts than at Level 2 will include a selection which introduces more sophisticated or controversial issues surrounding the topics covered.

Knowledge and understanding

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

  • identify a range of cultural attitudes and recognise their effects  and that of a response to the influence of Hellenic culture, in a number of areas of Roman life;
  • engage critically with a range of ancient evidence, including core texts, but also some more challenging extracts.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the values which underpinned Roman society;
  • recognise the complexities of interpreting ancient perceptions of societal change; in particular with reference to the effects, perceived or actual, of the increasing infiltration of Roman society  by the Greeks and their culture.

Intellectual skills

In keeping with the broader range of texts, including more complex examples, which students at level 3 will have studied, they are expected to have gained a greater level of sophistication and breadth  of knowledge than those taking the course at level 2. By the end of this course, such students will be able to demonstrate an enhanced ability

  • to perform close textual analysis and more broadly-based thematic readings;
  • to evaluate critically both primary and secondary literature, including both basic and more complex readings;
  • to deploy these skills in an efficient and sophisticated manner in partnership with other interpretative approaches in the elucidation of socio-historical issues and problems.

Practical skills

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

  • demonstrate good oral and written communication skills;
  • take responsibility for individual learning;
  • appreciate the views of individuals from different cultures.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

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

  • demonstrate the ability to construct an argument in written and oral form, to pose questions about complex issues;
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources;
  • conduct bibliographic searches;
  • present the 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

By the end of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the acquisition of a portfolio of practical transferable skills: see above, Transferable Skills and Personal Qualities.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Weighting within unit (if summative)







Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written and oral feedback

Summative commentaries and essay

Written and oral feedback

Formative tutorial work (practice commentaries/essay plans)

  • All summative feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assessment.
  • Students are encouraged to seek formative feedback ahead of the first assignment of the unit by discussing work plans and approaches during seminars (where appropriate)  and in consultation hours.
  • Additional one-to-one feedback can be requested (during consultation hours or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

Preliminary reading could include:

Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual life in the Late Roman Republic (1985)

N. Rosenstein, ‘Aristocratic values’ in The Oxford Companion to the Roman Republic ed. N. Rosenstein and R. Morstein-Marx (2011), 365-382.

J. P. V. D. Balsdon, Romans and Aliens (1979)

E. Gruen, Culture and National Identity in Republican Rome (1992)

D. Earl, The Moral and Political Tradition of Rome (1967)

A. Wardman, Rome’s Debt to Greece (1976)

Catherine Edwards, The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome (1993)

C. Wirszubski, Libertas as a Political  Idea at Rome during the Late Republic and early Principate (1967, repr. 2007)

M. McDonnell, Roman Manliness: virtus and the Roman Republic (2006)

Harriet Flower, Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture (1996)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mary Beagon Unit coordinator

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