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Frontiers of the Roman Empire


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree obtained;

  • Basic familiarity with provincial Roman archaeology. If in doubt, please contact the lecturer (see below).


The Roman Limes, i.e. the frontier and its supporting installations, includes some of the most spectacular archaeological monuments in northern Europe.
Barriers, such as Hadrian’s Wall, and forts such as Nijmegen, Udhruh and Lambaesis link the nations of modern Europe, North Africa and parts of the Near East with a common past, providing the basis for the current application for UNESCO world heritage status.

A particular focus of the course will be the special characteristics of the North Sea frontier, with the coastal defence systems of Britain and the Continent, and attention to the nature of the ‘threat’ from overseas.
We will investigate various aspects of the current debate on Roman frontiers and frontier communities. Topics will vary from year to year, but will include the structure and purpose of the frontier lines, issues of gender, migration, and relations with communities beyond the frontier, in Northern Germany and Scandinavia.

Course objectives

After completing the course the student:

  • will begin to understand the complexity of the Roman frontier systems in North-Western Europe and beyond;

  • will be familiar with significant sites and excavations;

  • will be acquainted with the recent theoretical debate;

  • has gained writing skills;

  • has gained presentation skills.


Course schedule details can be found in the Master time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 360 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Assignments (3,000 words) (2 ects).

Assessment method

  • Participation (5%);

  • Weekly assignments (10%);

  • Final essay (85%).

The assignments have weekly deadlines, the last one being one week after the last class.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

The reading list will be posted on Blackboard.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.

Registration ‘Contractonderwijs’

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudents is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact mw. dr. C. van Driel-Murray.