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CAH3037 : The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Simon Corcoran
  • Lecturer: Dr Thea Ravasi
  • 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 aim of the course is to acquire knowledge and contextualized understanding of the Roman empire and the significant changes that it underwent in the later third and earlier fourth centuries, specifically in the long reigns of Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337). These gave the empire a renewed lease of life and set the paradigms for the late Roman state, and indeed for administration, law, culture and religion across the empire and beyond on into the medieval period. This will be done primarily by contextualized study of the ancient evidence from literary texts (including legal and ecclesiastical writings, especially Eusebius), documents, and art and archaeology, but also by engaging with the varied modern interpretations of and approaches to this period, in which there are many highly contentious issues: not least the relationship between the empire and Christianity, and the highly contested legacy of Constantine, whose echoes are felt even today.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes and topics(although the list below is not necessarily the sequence and structure of their treatment):
- Historiography; periodization; sources & source-criticism.
- The background of the third century “crisis”.
- The reigns of Diocletian and Constantine: war, dynasty, politics and religion.
- The development of the imperial office, collegiate rule, dynasty and succession.
- Administrative reforms: palatine offices, the provinces, finance, taxation, coinage.
- Imperial cities and residences.
- Cities, local administration and elites.
- Armies, frontiers and neighbours, especially Persia.
- Law, citizenship and society in theory and practice.
- Christianity from persecution to privilege.
- Roman cultures clothed in Latin and Greek.
- Changes in artistic styles and book culture.
- Afterlife and legend.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Researching and completing assignments.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture231:0023:00In-person lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading321:0032:00Exploration of topics, documents and bibliography in the Module Handbook and on Canvas
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities112:0022:00Tasks and guided reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Weekly seminars (most weeks)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities102:0020:00Reading and other work preparatory for seminars and workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Guidance session for tackling the poster
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity60:303:00Bi-weekly quizzes (for formative assessment)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study301:0030:00Independent study going beyond the module handbook
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures, allow for interactive engagement, highlight the most important themes and approaches and clarify information, building also on preparatory reading. These, plus the seminar preparation, also facilitate the flipped classroom seminars. In these, students, singly or in groups, lead discussion and analysis of key ancient source materials (textual or otherwise). Tasks spread across the module also build up relevant skills. The workshop is designed to impart the necessary skills for the poster exercise.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A702,500 words, comprising two parts: a source commentary (500 words) and an essay (2,000) words
Poster1M30Textual limit of 1,000 words
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
Computer assessment1MBi-weekly quizzes
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The poster will test the ability to convey a contextualized interpretation of key material through carefully arranged text and image designed for a broad audience. The assignment will allow in the commentary the display of skills of source-criticism, while the essay allows for more extensive engagement with a major topic of the module and the development of considered and coherent arguments bolstered by appropriate detailed evidence and engagement with modern scholarship.

The regular quizzes (every two weeks) help consolidate learning and alert students to areas of weakness or lack of engagement.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists