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ARA8128 : The Sharp Edge of Empire? The Armies and Frontiers of Imperial Rome (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Rob Collins
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module will provide students with an advanced knowledge of the Roman Empire’s armies and frontiers from the 1st-5th centuries AD.

This module draws upon Newcastle University’s exceptional history of research into the armies and frontiers of the Roman Empire. It capitalizes on both the University’s proximity to Hadrian’s Wall, the most famous stretch of the Roman frontier works in the world, and its extensive archival holdings with data on the Danubian, North African and Eastern Provinces. The module examines both the unifying and divergent attributes of provincial armies, frontier communities, and frontier zones. In so doing it emphasizes the importance of frontier studies to our understanding of the Empire as a whole. The frontiers of the Roman Empire emerge not as remote and marginal zones, but as some of the most dynamic regions in the provinces, enjoying a distinct and privileged relationship with the heart of the Empire. Furthermore, frontiers are amongst the most intensively studied areas of the Roman world. Students will develop advanced knowledge of key imperial frontier regions.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following are some of the central topics typically included in lectures and non-synchronous materials:
1. What is a Roman frontier?
2. Archaeologies of the Roman Army
3. Comparative Approaches to Roman Frontier Studies
4. Barbarians (and Persians)!
5. Archaeologies of Conflict
6. Frontier Economics
7. The Final Frontiers
8. Frontier Case Studies (Britain; Rhine; Danube; Near East; North Africa)

Aligned with lectures and non-synchronous materials, the following are some of topics typically included in seminars:
A. Military identities and communities
B. Ethnicity
C. Violence in our sources
D. Supplying military garrisons
E. Decline, Collapse, or Transformation
F. Interrogating excavation reports
G. Resources for the study of frontiers and Roman soldiers

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Supporting materials (e.g. 1 hr lecture recordings p/w counts as contact time)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion651:0065:00For 3 assessment components. 40 hrs for essay. 12.5 hrs each for x2 wiki entries.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:001 lecture per week
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical18:008:001 8-hour practical fieldtrip to be held during enrichment week.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading331:0033:003 hours reading per lecture
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities361:0036:004 hours prep tasks per seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:001 seminar per week, with the exception of the first and last weeks.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study251:0025:00General consolidation activities
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:002:001 talk offered in the first week, 1 offered in the last week.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Synchronous lectures and non-synchronous lecture materials will introduce topics and provide expert orientation and exposition on a broad range of themes and issues, supplemented by the module reading list. In-person lectures will provide opportunities for dialogue, while lecture materials can be reviewed at any time across the week and revisited numerous times afterwards. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to present recorded materials asynchronously and retain timetabled slots for live discussion of these materials.

Synchronous seminars will also consolidate the learning progress from lectures, lecture materials, and weekly readings by enabling students to focus on connected issues and material in greater depth. Seminars will be student-led and facilitated by teaching staff, and will hinge upon group discussion and debate about materials circulated in advance (for example, sets of evidence, scholarship, and questions). In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to hold live seminar discussions online and retain timetabled slots.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A702,500 words (plus tables and appendices)
Report2M30Report : 1,500 words (plus tables and appendices)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MOral presentation on a site or theme to be provided during seminar
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay - 2,500 words (plus tables, illustrations, and appendices) in the form of a critical essay assessing and synthesising current thinking of a specified frontier (or portion of frontier) to be agreed by the Module Leader.

Report - 1,500 words (plus tables, illustrations and appendices) in the form of a concise report comparable to an encyclopaedia entry and synthesising current thinking on site or monument (part 1) and a piece or type of material culture (part 2) to be agreed with the Module Leader.

The task of completing an essay and a report that synthesis information across a number of sites and evidence from multiple media challenges students' understanding of the research process, proper use of archaeological resources, and their knowledge of particular research agendas as well as site-specific details. The exercises prepare them for the type of data-summary and analysis that would be expected of anyone entering the archaeological or heritage profession. The assessments also develop skills that contribute to the dissertation.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes (listed under Learning Outcomes), develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

Seminars also provide time for formative assessment, using oral presentations and various exercises for the students to practice communications skills and demonstrate critical learning of focused subjects, with verbal feedback provided by the module leader.

All of the assessments for this module will be submitted and marked online.

Reading Lists