HIST1045 Empire and Aftermath: The Mediterranean World from the Second to the Eighth Centuries

Reading List

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

This module provides an introduction to the Roman Empire in its heyday, and to the ensuing period of 'Late Antiquity'. It begins with consideration of the Empire at its fullest extent under Trajan and Hadrian, and then looks at the near-collapse of the third century, followed by the restitution of the Roman World by Diocletian and Constantine. It then considers the spread of Christianity and the creation of a Christian Empire, which was immediately threatened by the upheavals caused by the arrival of the Huns in the fourth century.
Having looked at the collapse of the Western Empire in the fifth century and the establishment of the so-called 'Successor States' of the Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths and Franks, it examines the attempt at reconquest by Justinian. The threats posed on the one hand by the Avars and Slavs, and on the other by the Persians, form a prelude to the loss of much of the eastern Empire to the forces of Islam.
The course will close with a consideration of the Pirenne thesis ('Mahomet and Charlemagne').


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • - assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Roman Empire;
  • - evaluate the explanations of the Fall of the Empire;
  • - show familiarity with the cultures of the Mediterranean, the Germanic World and the Near East in Late Antiquity;
  • - understand the consequences of political, economic, social and cultural change for the framework of life and the structure of society.


This module will cover the following topics:

  • 1. The Empire of the Second Century
  • 2. The Crisis of the third Century
  • 3. The Tetrarchy and Constantine
  • 4. The Expansion of Christianity
  • 5. The Coming of the Barbarians
  • 6. The Fall of the Western Empire
  • 7. The 'Successor' States
  • 8. Justinian's Reconquest
  • 9. Slavs and Persians
  • 10. The Emergence of Islam
  • 11. The End of the Mediterranean World?

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1 x 2,000 word assessed essay to be submitted by 12 noon Monday of week 8 30
Presentation Student participation in class discussions and presentations across the module 10
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 40


Exam type Exam duration % of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) 2 hr 0 mins 60
Total Percentage (Assesment Exams) 60

Private Study

  • - Researching, preparing and writing assignments
  • - Undertaking set reading
  • - Self-directed reading around the topic
  • - Exam preparation and revision
  • - Consultation of VLE materials and electronic resources

Progress Monitoring

Students will be monitored through one piece of non assessed work and through their contribution to class discussion.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Lecture 11 1 11
Tutorial 11 1 11
Private Study Hours 178
Total Contact Hours 22
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

Reading List

Reading List
A link to the Library reading list area is now available from the Web Module Catalogue

Back to Discovery Themes