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10 cp from 100-level units in History

Unit rationale, description and aim

The site of Pompeii has fascinated archaeologists, historians and tourists alike for centuries. Yet, despite its popularity, little is known about the people who lived there. This unit will engage with different types of evidence in an examination of the Roman town of Pompeii within the context of the Roman Empire of the first century. Areas of study include the eruption of Vesuvius which buried Pompeii in 79, the town's rebirth as an archaeological site, and the political, social, cultural, economic and religious lives of the town's first-century inhabitants. Evidence from Herculaneum will also be considered where appropriate.

The aim of this unit, is to develop a student's understanding of the importance of the site of Pompeii in its historical context and to explore what this site can tell researchers about what it was like to live in a provincial town in the first century of the Roman Empire.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

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

LO1 - Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge of the history of Pompeii and apply this to a variety of key conceptual approaches historians use to shape and debate interpretations of the past (GA5, GA6) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA9)

LO3 - Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Critically analyse historical evidence, synthesise scholarship and changing representations of the past according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the discipline through an independently formulated research task related to current historical debates (GA3, GA7, GA9, GA10) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical theories and concepts and relate them to shifting understandings of the history of Pompeii over time (GA4-6). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:  

  • Vesuvius and the eruption 
  • Pompeii as an archaeological site  
  • Public life and politics 
  • Civic and domestic religion 
  • Economy and commercial life 
  • Houses and households 
  • Leisure and cultural activities  
  • Consideration of archaeological, epigraphic and literary sources 
  • Consideration of significant historiographical issues, including the relationship between archaeological and more traditional historical analysis. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit is taught in a face-to-face mode. The two-hour lectures provide students with content which will help inform their understanding of primary and secondary sources related to the unit’s content, and the one-hour tutorials provide an opportunity for a variety of active learning experiences. Engaging students in active learning gives them the opportunity to work through the challenges that historians grapple with when studying ancient sources, and this will allow students to develop practical skills and learn how to apply them to a study of ancient history.  

Students in this unit will be encouraged to: develop specific skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to strategies that will help them to: (a) understand and interpret the history of a particular country (or countries); (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past. 

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as lectures, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film screenings, skills workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include, but are not limited to: essays, examinations, student presentations or case studies. The Skills/Knowledge Development Assignment requires students to focus on learning and correctly applying some key discipline and content specific terminology. This is particularly important in ancient history because students are often introduced to words and concepts with which they are unfamiliar. In completing this assignment students will demonstrate their ability to correctly apply ideas and knowledge relevant to the unit content (LO1) and to express this clearly for an academic audience (LO2). The Active Research Task gives student the opportunity to apply research techniques developed in tutorials, and key content and skills developed in the first assessment to investigate a research question and present their findings in the form of an evidence-based narrative or argument. The Summative/Analytical Task asks students to reflect on the unit as a whole and draw together themes, ideas and information in response to a specific question or questions. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Skills/Knowledge Development Assignment: Requires students to demonstrate their ability to write a brief description of key terms and their meaning. 


LO1, LO2 

GA5, GA6, GA9 

Active research task: This task is designed for students to apply methodological, historical and historiographical knowledge and prove an evidence-based argument on an independent research topic related to Pompeii. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Summative/Analytical Task (s): This assessment is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their theoretical and factual knowledge of the case studies from the ancient past. 

The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster/poster or simulation exercise. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 


Representative texts and references

Beard, Mary. Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town. London: Profile Books, 2010 

Cooley, Alison E., and Melvin George Lowe Cooley. Pompeii and Herculaneum: A sourcebook. Oxford: Routledge, 2013. 

Flohr, Miko, and Andrew Wilson, eds. The Economy of Pompeii. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.  

Goodman, Martin. The Roman World 44 BC–AD 180. Oxford: Routledge, 2013.  

Milnor, Kristina. Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.  

Rowland, Ingrid D. From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014. 

Stephens, Jennifer F., and Stephens, Arthur E. Pompeii: A Different Perspective: Via Dell 'Abbondanza: A Long Road, Well-Travelled. Atlanta, GA: Lockwood Press, 2017.

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