The Second Rome

Ref: C2341888

During the term, we will examine the historical transformation of government in the Roman Empire, and how the Crisis of the Third Century was overcome. We will look closely at the significance of the rise of Christianity (contrasting it with other "mystery" cults and philosophies of the period), and we will attempt to discover reasons for the downfall of the Western Empire at the same time as the survival of the East. We will examine the nature of the Roman recovery during the sixth century, culminating in the reign of Justinian and subsequent problems engendered. We will also examine the threats to the Empire through the fifth and sixth centuries, and how these were overcome. You will be introduced to all the major cultural aspects, theology and warfare during the period concerned.

Course aim

The course aims to give a brief but wide-ranging account of Roman society and its transformation from the later third to the seventh centuries. It is primarily intended for those who would like to pursue an interest in the nature of Late Antiquity.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • List at least three key factors in the establishment of the Roman Dominate, and its basic character
  • Trace the general course of the Roman Empire 312 – 565, and suggest reasons for the decline of the West
  • Outline the rise of Christianity and the significance of its major debates 314 – 544 AD
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the successes of Justinian, and the complications of his legacy

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Forgotten Power: Byzantium, Bulwark of Christianity, Roger M Keane (Thalamus Publishing 2005) The Byzantines, Averil Cameron (Blackwell 2009)

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

The Second Rome

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This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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