Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Roman Britain - 20 credits (HS2362)

Course description

Roman statue

From the moment the Emperor Claudius’ legionaries stepped ashore on the south coast in AD 43, Britain’s history for the next four centuries would be dominated by Rome. This module is intended to introduce students to the historical and archaeological evidence for the Roman period in Britain, from Julius Caesar’s expeditions in 55 and 54 BC to the final political abandonment of the island c. AD 410. Historical sources provide a fascinating record of the key events and personalities that shaped the political development of Roman Britain, while the archaeological evidence is used to describe the transformation of the landscape and its people.

The aims of this module are to introduce students to the historical and archaeological sources for Roman Britain and to describe how that evidence relates to the history, society and culture of the province.


Credits: 20

Availability of module: Alternate (even) years

Prerequisites: N/A

Necessary for: N/A

Tutor: Dr Peter Guest

Teaching methods

A variety of methods will be used throughout the course, including formal lectures and student-led discussion of important topics in seminars.

The aim of the lectures is to provide an introduction to a particular topic, establishing the key points of major course themes, identifying important issues and providing guidance for more in-depth reading. The lectures aim to provide a basic framework for understanding and should be thought of as useful starting points for further discussion and individual study. Where appropriate, handouts and other materials may be distributed to reinforce the material discussed.

The primary aim of the seminars will be to generate debate and discussion amongst students. Seminars for each of the course topics will provide an opportunity for students to analyse and further discuss key issues and topics relating to module. Handouts will be made available prior to the seminars.


One written examination of 2 hours (50% of final mark); one assessed essay of no more than 2500 words in length (50% of final mark).

Summary of course content

  • Perceptions of Roman Britain: Past and Present.
  • The Pre-Roman Iron Age – from Caesar’s Expeditions to the Claudian Invasion.
  • Conquest and Colonisation: Caratacus, Boudicca and Agricola.
  • The Roman Army in Britain
  • Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall.
  • Administration and Urbanisation : growth and decline of Romano-British Towns
  • Crisis in the Third Century: Carausius and the “British Empire”.
  • Rural Settlement in Roman Britain: farms and villas.
  • Romans and Britons
  • Romano-British Art: Primitive or Provincial?
  • Trade and Industry: Britain and the Empire.
  • The Gods and Temples of Roman Britain.
  • Romano-British Burial Customs.
  • The History and Archaeology of the End of Roman Britain

Learning outcomes

By the end of course the student should have acquired:

  • a knowledge of the key personalities and events in the history of the Roman province of Britannia;
  • an understanding of the economic and social development of Roman Britain;
  • an introduction to selected key sites and the material culture of Roman Britain;
  • some understanding of how documentary and archaeological evidence are used to provide interpretations for a historical period.

Skills that will be practised and developed:

  • effective communication of ideas and arguments in an accurate, succinct and lucid manner, whether in class discussion or in written form;
  • formulation and justification of arguments and conclusions about a range of issues, and presentation of appropriate supporting evidence;
  • ability to modify as well as to defend an argument;
  • ability to think critically and challenge assumptions;
  • ability to use a range of IT resources to assist with information retrieval and presentation;
  • time management and the ability to independently organise personal study and workloads;
  • effective team working in seminar or tutorial discussions.

Suggested book purchases


Suggested preparatory reading    

Creighton, J. 2006 Britannia: the creation of a Roman province. London: Routledge

Frere, S. 1991. Britannia (3rd edition). London: Routledge.

Hingley, R. & Unwin, C. 2005. Boudica : iron age warrior queen. London: Hambledon.

Ireland, S. 1986. Roman Britain: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge.

Mattingly, D. 2006 Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54 BC - AD 409. London

Millett, M. 1990. The Romanization of Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Salway, P. 1981. Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Todd, M (ed) 2004. A Companion to Roman Britain. Oxford: Blackwell.