Module Catalogue 2021/22

CAH3033 : The Fall of the Roman Republic

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Federico Santangelo
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



In this module we study the historical developments that led to the collapse of the Roman Republic and the advent of the monarchic rule of Octavian, later known as Augustus. It was a long and complex process, which spanned over more than a century and coexisted with the expansion and the development of Roman hegemony throughout the Mediterranean.

One of the central contentions of this course will be that the fall of the Roman Republic cannot be read simply as a process of decline. On the contrary, it was a dramatic and violent period of creative change, which was part of a wider process of reaggregation and reorganisation of the Roman State and of the Empire as a whole.

This module intends to offer an opportunity to:

- Gain a sound general knowledge of the period, both of the narrative of the last two centuries BC and of the main historical issues of the period;
- Read widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature about the period;
- Develop further the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

Our discussion will start in 168 BC, when the Roman victory at Pydna against a coalition of Greek forces made clear to everybody that there was no alternative to Roman hegemony in the Mediterranean. We will then embark on an analysis of the economic and social situation in Rome and Italy in the second century BC, and we will look at the changes that intervened in Roman politics as a consequence of that. We will then move on to a discussion of the role of the Italian Allies in this period and to the Social War, and to the consequences that this process had on the competition within the Roman elite. We will cover the main developments from the age of Sulla and Marius to the clash between Caesar and Pompey, and to the final clash between Octavian and Mark Antony. At the same time, we will show that these events must be explained against the background of complex economic and social processes, by looking at a wide range of evidence – literary, epigraphical, numismatic, and archaeological. The study of the political and military developments will be intertwined with the discussion of the key historical themes of the period. The seminars will be devoted to the close scrutiny of important pieces of evidence.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On completion of the module, students will have acquired the ability:
•       to identify and describe the nature of the Roman Republic and of the process that led to its end
•       to identify, describe, and assess the relevant primary sources
•       to identify and describe the problems in dealing with these primary sources
•       to demonstrate an up-to-date knowledge of the secondary literature on the subject
•       to provide a critical assessment of the secondary literature

Intended Skill Outcomes

On completion of the module, students should have enhanced (to a level higher than they are expected at Stage 2):
• their skills in analysing and interpreting ancient sources (in translation, if written), with regards to details of the source and overall issues of interpretation
• their skills in evaluating modern scholarship and in testing its views against the ancient evidence
• their adaptability in applying these skills to issues other than those discussed in class, both ancient and modern
• their skills in offering a clear presentation of their views and analyses in written form
• their capacity for independent study

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:001 recording per week - to be included as contact hours
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion671:0067:00For two assessment components
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:001 lecture per week
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Introduction to the module
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading331:0033:003 hours of reading per week
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:001 hour per seminar
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities92:0018:002 hours preparation per seminar discussion
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study491:0049:00Student research activity related to the topics introduced each week (e.g. reading lists)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide the students with a structured outline of core knowledge and methodologies that are essential for approaching the key historical topics of the module. They also offer the students the necessary instruments to analyse and discuss the primary evidence and secondary literature independently.
Seminars are specifically designed to provide the students with in-depth discussion and further analysis of a selected number of topics, issues, and pieces of primary evidence that have been presented in the lectures.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502000-word essay
Essay2A502000-word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two 2000-word essays assess the students' ability to conduct independent research on a chosen topic. They test their analytical skills and ability to discuss complex material (primary evidence and secondary literature) critically and succinctly.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Original Handbook text:

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.