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Unit information: Pagan Religions of the Roman Empire in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Pagan Religions of the Roman Empire
Unit code CLAS27003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Costantini
Open unit status Not open
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School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

The ancient city of Rome had its own distinctive set of religious practices and institutions that we can call Roman religion. Acquisition of empire brought the imperial city and its religion into contact with numerous other pagan 'religions', including Greek religion, the religions of the western provinces and numerous 'mystery' or 'oriental' cults. The transition from republic to empire also introduced new religious experiences to Rome in the form of the imperial cult and the reorganization of Roman religion around the sole ruler. This unit will explore the main characteristics, institutions and practices of Roman religion, before turning to the other 'pagan' religions of the Roman empire. It will seek to understand the nature of pagan religions in the early empire, to compare this with modern, Judeo-Christian understandings of religion and to put under scrutiny the very meaning of terms such as 'religion', 'pagan' and 'belief'.

Your learning on this unit

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a good knowledge of important features of pagan religions of the Roman Empire;

2. Analyse the specific characteristics of the pagan religions of the Roman imperial period and scholarly approaches to them;

3. Critically evaluate sources which pertain to pagan religions, and the methodologies which shape their use;

4. Construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject, appropriate to level I.

How you will learn

This unit will involve a combination of independent investigative activities, long- and short-form lectures, and discussion. Students will be expected to engage with materials and participate on a weekly basis. Feedback will be provided for both formative and summative assessments, and this will be supported by meetings with tutors. Students will complete a formative written exercise.

How you will be assessed

Summative Assessments:

Timed assessment (100%) [ILOs 1-4]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. CLAS27003).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.