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Roman Mobilities
Movement of persons, animals, objects, and ideas in the ancient Roman world

Explore ancient Roman culture and knowledge from the point of view of mobility and movement through space and time

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • PhD
Field of studies
  • Art, Design and Media
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
2 February - 31 May

This programme continues the BIP Roman Mobilities (February-March 2023), which was successfully implemented. The aim of the course is to offer an upper-level seminar on ancient Roman culture through the broad notion of “mobility” as a way to critically reflect on specific problems in a multidisciplinary environment.

Available to senior BA, MA and PhD students, the programme seeks to organise a series of weekly online lectures (2 February - 5 April 2024), followed by a five-day encounter at the University of Bucharest (Romania), including a trip to Greco-Roman cities on the Romanian western Black Sea coast (27-31 May 2024).

Considering the ancient Roman cultural context as a reference point (ca. 7th century BCE – 6th century CE), a group of specialists in Classical Studies, Ancient History, Archaeology, Philosophy, Linguistics, Latin Philology, Literature, Religion, and Performing Arts propose to explore issues of cultural identity, geographic circulation, social mobility and material settings in an array of evidence and media.

As novelties, this second edition of the BIP introduces the topic of Roman Africa, brings a stronger focus on Roman material culture and explores, through the in-person component, Roman culture on the Black Sea periphery of the Empire.

Ultimately, the main goal of this programme is to provide a space of critical thinking to students coming from different countries and backgrounds and to generate an ongoing debate about the timeliness of studying ancient cultural discourses in the present moment. By focusing on the extremely mobile nature of ancient Rome in terms of space and time, we will question traditional claims about the legacy of Roman imperialism in the creation of European values and propose more innovative methods to tackle this question.

Main topics addressed

  • Investigation of Rome’s relationship to the East and West
  • The spread of a centralising idea of “Rome”
  • The ambivalent means of cultural appropriation, exchange, and dominance in Roman processes of self-definition, especially when confronted to Greece and other ancient Mediterranean communities, such as the Jews
  • The expression of movement in language
  • The portability of rites; religious practices and mobility, including the imperial cult.
  • The role of translation in the transmission of philosophical and scientific ideas
  • The cultural transference of literary, rhetorical, and artistic motifs
  • The performative power of the moving body
  • The ethical aspects of travels
  • The status of citizens who are subject to relegation and exile
  • Roman Africa (The mobility between Morocco and Spain during Roman Antiquity)
  • Healing spa culture through the Roman Empire
  • The mobility of the Roman Army in the Western Empire

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge on ancient Roman culture and society from synchronic and diachronic perspectives;
  • apply multi-disciplinary concepts in the Humanities to draw conclusions on the cultural idea of ‘mobility’;
  • critically discuss aspects of identity and cultural status in ancient Rome and the provinces;
  • identify the value of case studies in approaching broader topics;
  • incorporate first-hand exploration of visual and material culture;
  • draw critical parallels between ancient and modern cultures;
  • develop collaborative research with peers from other nationalities and fields of study;
  • compose an outreach project about the topic to be addressed to non-academic audiences;
  • communicate orally to refine individual and group conclusions relating to the topics of the course.
Dates: 2 February - 31 May 2024 Total workload: 146 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 5*
Location: Bucharest & region of Dobrudja – western shore of the Black Sea, Romania Language: English (B2)

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

The in-person module will take place between 27-31 May 2024, beginning and ending in Bucharest. But the focuswill be on the Romanian western coast of the Black Sea (Dobrudja), where museums and archaeological sites of interest are located.

This will give us the opportunity to expand on-site reflection on specific issues, where personal observation will supplement the earlier research: life in a Roman province; the impact of Roman conquest on previously existing Greek cities; the creation of the Roman frontier (limes) in the Danube and Black Sea area; Ovid’s exile in Tomis; Roman material culture in the provinces etc.

Students who cannot come to Bucharest or have to withdraw from this part will have the possibility to earn their credits by completing an online parallel task. Students must obtain their funding according to CIVIS rules (Erasmus or otherwise).

As part of this week, students will take part in a full-immersive workshop every day, coordinated mainly by instructors of the online seminar, but focused on specific case studies that relate to their topics. These experiences will be called ‘teaching on the move’ and will take place through different sites and venues on the Romanian western shore of the Black Sea (Dobrudja) and in Bucharest, of particular relevance to the programme’s aims and methodologies. These spots (subject to slight revisions) include:

  • archaeological sites in Dobrudja: Histria, Tomis, Tropaeum Traiani, sites on the Roman limes;
  • museums: the National Museum of History of Romania (Bucharest), the Museum of National History and Archaeology in Constanța (ancient Tomis), the Archaeological Museum of Histria, the Museum of History and Archaeology in Tulcea (on the Danube). 

Small informative workshops will be offered on the spot by specialists on categories of artefacts (e.g. Roman glass, pottery, epigraphy etc.).

In addition, students will have three allotted hours each day to work in preparation for their final group project, which will be presented in a poster session on Friday, 31 May. The session will also be reproduced in a virtual (i.e. online) gallery of the posters, which will act to disseminate the findings of their collective research projects. Each of these working groups will be mentored by one of the instructors every day.

It is recommended for the students to bring a laptop.

Virtual part

The virtual module will be held weekly, on the Zoom and Moodle platforms, which are used in most of the universities of our network and allow us to invite guest participants and speakers.

From the pedagogical point of view, the online part of the programme will serve as a theoretical introduction to each of the topics we intend to address. The online sessions imply both synchronous (live) and asynchronous learning (pre-recorded lectures). The proposed structure per each weekly session is: 2 pre-recorded lectures made available in advance/ 2 live lectures + 2 sets of live interactive activities (commenting texts or iconography, discussing a specific archaeological site/ monument, digital approaches, team work etc.). It means about 2.5-3 hours per session every week. The students will be made aware in advance with respect to the status of the lectures (pre-recorded or live).

Every weekly session will take place on Friday (between February and April 2024), and will be consist of two monographic encounters, each led by one of the lecturers who are part of the team. The sessions will be devoted to specific topics that relate to the notion of Roman "mobility" and will also include theoretical introductions to the critical methodologies selected by the instructors. Every week, two other instructors will act as co-ordinators of the course, introducing the presenters, and helping to facilitate the students’ discussions. This will assure that the course follows a fluid and coherent progression.

The instructors will upload their materials and readings in advance to the Moodle site, so that they can be consulted before the session. At the end of the final session, students will engage in a broader conclusive discussion in order to summarise and highlight the most important aspects discussed throughout. As part of the assessment, each student will have to collect a portfolio, including a personal reflection of the course (ca. 3000 words).

Calendar of topics (subject to revision):

  • 2 February: Course introduction and first contact with the students (1 h). Alexandra Lițu (University of Bucharest) and Valentin Bottez (University of Bucharest), followed by Pedro Duarte (Aix-Marseille Université): "Mobility and language contacts through the Roman Empire in the 1st century CE".
  • 9 February: Matthew Fox (University of Glasgow): “Appropriation of Greek educational standards at Rome in the 1st century”; Sabine Luciani (Aix-Marseille Université): “Rome’s relationship to Greece through the case of Philosophy”.
  • 16 February: Luis Unceta Gómez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “Mobility in Latin”; Florica Mihuț (University of Bucharest): “Exile, social mobility, and the exclusion from the citizen body in ancient Rome”;
  • 23 February: Zoa Alonso Fernández (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “The moving body and Roman dance. A study on performativity”; Giorgio Ferri (Sapienza Università di Roma): “Ritual movements of persons and animals in Roman Religion”.
  • 1 March: Alexandra Lițu (University of Bucharest): “Religious practices and mobility on the edges of the Empire”; Valentin Bottez (University of Bucharest): “The promotion of imperial cult as a catalyst of cultural relations”.
  • 8 March: Katell Berthelot (Aix-Marseille Université): “Jewish mobilities in the Roman Empire”; Sanaa Hassab (University Hassan II Casablanca): “The mobility between Morocco and Spain during Roman Antiquity”.
  • 15 March: Silvia Gonzalez Soutelo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “Healing spa culture through the Roman Empire: From Italy to frontiers”; Javier Moralejo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “The mobility of the Roman army through the Western Empire”. 
  • 22 March: students’ workshop 1 (2h). Concluding discussion, debate and synthesis
  • Break for the Catholic Easter 
  • 5 April: students’ workshop 2 (2h). Planning towards the teams’ projects

After the conclusion of the course, students will present an individual portfolio, based on their engagement with the topics. The portfolios will be distributed among the instructors for final assessment. Also, during the online part of the course, students will have to create working groups, integrating individuals from different universities and academic backgrounds and led by one of the instructors, who will be acting as counsellors. These groups will identify a topic for closer study, and develop a small outreach project to be displayed in a poster at the end of the programme.


This course is open to Bachelor's, Master's and PhD students at CIVIS member universities enrolled or with a strong interest in Classics, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Art History, Anthropology, History of religions, Philosophy, Linguistics, History, Cultural Studies.

This course is also open to students from the University Hassan II of Casablanca, Morroco - 1 student and the University of Sfax, Tunisia - 1 student).

A B2 level of English is required and elementary Latin is desirable. 

Participants should also have critical thinking and skills such as data analysis, inter/ multidisciplinarity, teamwork, research-based learning, public speaking in English, creating a scientific poster, ability to synthesize.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

This course is also open to students with the same academic profile, who are enrolled at a CIVIS strategic partner university in Africa. Please check here, if you can apply and this particular course is open to applications from your university. Successful applicants will receive an Erasmus+ grant covering travel and subsistence costs during their stay. Applicants should be willing to extend their stay at the host university for 1-3 weeks for additional research and/or training purposes.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 7 November 2023, including:

  • CV
  • Motivation letter

Applicants will be selected on the basis of:

CV's quality and aptness - 50%:

  • previous studies in Classics, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Art History, Anthropology, History of religions, Philosophy, Linguistics, History, Cultural Studies (50%)
  • other areas of the Humanities, including Digital Humanities (40%)
  • previous studies in Social Sciences (30%)

Motivation letter -50%.

Elementary Latin and/ or Ancient Greek is an added value.

Apply now


Individual work: 

  • written portfolio about the online lectures, plus general reflection on the elaborated notions, ca. 3000 words (30% of the course’s grade) - to be distributed among selected instructors for assessment
  • active participation in class, including debates, questions, and discussions (10% of the course’s grade) - to be assessed weekly by each instructor and moderators

Group work:

  •  research and design of a collaborative poster (50% of the course’s grade) - to be assessed by each of the groups ‘counsellors.’
  •  oral presentation of the poster (10% of the course’s grade) - to be assessed by all instructors

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

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  • Zoa Alonso Fernández, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Luis Unceta Gómez, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Matthew Fox, University of Glasgow
  • Sabine Luciani, Aix-Marseille Université
  • Katell Berthelot, Aix-Marseille Université
  • Pedro Duarte, Aix-Marseille Université
  • Alexandra Lițu, University of Bucharest
  • Florica Mihuț, University of Bucharest
  • Valentin Bottez, University of Bucharest
  • Giorgio Ferri, Sapienza Università di Roma
  • Sanaa Hassab, Université Hassan II Casablanca
  • Silvia González Soutelo, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid / Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies
  • Javier Moralejo, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Adrastos Omissi, University of Glasgow