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Emperor in the Roman World


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.
MA- or ResMA-students from outside the History Department (e.g. Classics or Archaeology) can take the course as an optional course; it is however not possible to take the course for 5 ECTS.


The nature of Roman Imperial Rule, and the position of the Emperor in the Roman world is a key theme in ancient history. Since the late twentieth century, scholars have approached Roman Emperorship from an increasingly diverse range of angles, using an increasingly varied evidential base, including not only literary texts but also inscriptions, coins, art, and architecture. Key question underlying much of this discourse is how emperors are able to rule authoritatively over a large empire while their actual means of asserting power are limited and only available at certain places. This seminar will discuss some key contributions to this debate that together offer a variety of perspectives on emperorship in the Roman world.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 2) The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • 3) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 4) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 5) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  • 6) thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following; in the specialisation Ancient History: unification processes in the Graeco-Roman World, 400 BC – 400 AD; insight into the recent large-scale debates in the field with respect to both the history of mentality and socio-economic history.

  • 7) (ResMA only): thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Literature Seminar

The student obtains:

  • 8) knowledge of some of the key processes of transformation of the Roman world.

  • 9) insight into some of the major modern debates in Roman historiography.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course and have to hand in an essay beforehand. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher before the start of the course. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method

48 hours before each session, students must hand in an annotated essay of 1500 words at maximum (excl. notes). Please note that this applies also to the first session. Each essay is marked; the average of these 6 marks (each 15%) plus a mark for participation (10%) constitutes the final mark.


  • Essay
    measured learning objectives: 1-9

  • Participation
    measured learning objectives: 3-4


  • 6 Written essays: 6 x 15%

  • Participation: 10%


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard. Essays handed in after the deadline will receive a lowered grade; it is not possible to hand in an essay once the session has taken place.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the essays are to be revised after consultation with the coordinator.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Reading list

For each session, students read a representative selection of about 200 pages of secondary literature on the basis of which they have to write an essay. Please note that this also applies to the first session. See Blackboard module for literature lists, essay questions, and further details.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. M. Flohr