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Research Workshop: Roman Numismatics (5 EC)


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


The study of coins and money is called numismatics. Coinage is one of the best preserved sources of antiquity, and it forms a direct source of this ancient world. This course will focus on Roman coinage and will offer a practical guide how to use Roman coins and coin hoards for research.

Students will be introduced how to find, read and interpret numismatic catalogues and online databases, during which students will also learn how to determine Roman coin types. Special attention will be given to the various abbreviations and symbols used on Roman coinage and how these are documented in the numismatic handbooks. Here, it must be noted that students do not have to be acquainted with the Greek or Latin language. During this first stage of the course, all coin practices will be linked to the bigger debates about the emerge of Roman coinage, the development of the different monetary systems in Rome, and the spread of coinage over the Roman Empire.

In a second stage, the course will discuss the archaeological context in which coins and coin hoards are found. Under the guidance of the lecturer, students will be taught how to analyse the context of a coin hoard deposition by “digging” into the hoards’ composition, history and archaeological context. This allows students to learn about the value of coins and coin hoards as sources for different kind of research: archaeological, historical, iconographical, economic and demographic. During this second phase, students will also contribute to the online coin database Coin Hoards of the Roman Project (University of Oxford), learning how to assemble and to submit coin hoard data into the online database and to detect the pitfalls around it. For their final assignment, students will write an essay in which they about a complex coin hoard found in the Netherlands.

If the current corona situation allows it, the course will organize a workshop to the National Museum of Antiquites in Leiden in order to see and handle some of the coins in their collection.

Please note that this course will start with a short entry essay. See under Literature.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  2. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  3. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  4. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  5. 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;

  6. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  7. 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;

  8. (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:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;

-in the specialisation Ancient History: unification processes in the Graece-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;

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following;

-in the specialisation Ancient History: the comparative method; application of socio-economic methods; specialized source knowledge, in particular of documentary sources.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Workshop

The student:

  1. will get acquainted with the emerging and development of Roman coinage;

  2. will acquire knowledge of and insight to the theories, apparatus, research methods, catalogues and databases of Roman numismatics;

  3. will be able to apply the acquired knowledge and research skills in their research;

  4. (ResMA only – students will be able to focus on the higher complexity of the corpus of Roman coinage in comparison to regular MA students; and they have the ability to set up and carry out research from new approaches which raises new questions).


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Workshop (compulsory attendance)

This means that students must attend every session of the course. Students who are unable to attend must notify the lecturer beforehand. 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 lecturer will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 4000-4500 words, based on research in primary sources, including bibliography and footnotes)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-14

  • Weekly assignments (coin practices, essays and an oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 1-14


  • Written paper: 60%

  • Weekly assignments: 40%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

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

Students are obliged to write a short entry essay, based on one of the statements that the lecturer will provide through Brightspace prior to the start of the semester. Students are advised to read the key chapters on Roman Coinage from W.E. Metcalf (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage (Oxford 2012) for their entry essay. The book is online available through the Leiden University Library catalogue.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


This course can be taken either as a 5 EC course for students of the MA History: Ancient History or as a 10 EC optional course for the students of ResMA History: Ancient History and (Res)MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations.

  • Students who take the course as a 5 EC course (5774VRW01) will be required to write weekly assignments as well as a written paper consisting of ca. 4000-4500 words.

  • Students who take the course as a 10 EC (5774VRW12) course will be required to write weekly assignments as well as a written paper consisting of ca. 7500-8000 words.