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HIS 197 W — The Roman World: An Online Course

Quarter: Fall
Date(s): Sep 21—Dec 4
Duration: 10 weeks
Drop By
Drop Deadline: Sep 24
Unit(s): 2 Units
Tuition: $505
Limit: 40
Status: Open
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving

This course will survey the history, archaeology, and literature of the ancient Roman world through profiles of important Romans. We will explore the lives of these generals, kings, senators, emperors, and aristocrats to understand the eras in which they lived. Our material will focus both on the famous (such as Julius Caesar, Nero, Hadrian, and Constantine) as well as the more obscure but still interesting Romans (including fraternal revolutionaries Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, the dictator Sulla, the 3rd-century emperor Gallienus, and the powerful women who safeguarded the patrician Cornelius family).

Through these personages, we will see how Rome grew from a tiny village of mud huts clustered atop hills along the Tiber River into an empire controlling land and people across all of Europe, from Spain to the Near East and from Britain to the shores of the Sahara. Readings will include primary Roman sources (in translation) and biographies written by the subjects’ contemporaries. Excerpts from modern works will also be integrated into our study.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 40 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • Opportunity to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
    Students who take the course for Credit or a Letter Grade will earn CEUs. CEUs allow the student to receive an official transcript and a grade report as proof of completion.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

This is an online course. Thanks to the flexibility of the online format, this course can be taken anywhere, anytime—a plus for students who lead busy lives or for whom regular travel to the Stanford campus is not possible. While necessarily structured differently from an on-campus classroom course, this course maintains a similar level of instructor engagement through videos, interactive exercises, and discussion with fellow students, as well as optional online videoconferencing sessions.

Gary Devore, Archaeologist

Gary Devore excavates in the ancient ruins of Pompeii and near Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England. He is one of the directors and principal investigators of Binchester Roman Excavations, and a former director of the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia. Devore received a PhD from the University of Bradford (UK).

Textbooks for this course:

No required textbooks