Netherlands, Amsterdam

Impact of an Empire

when 28 July 2018 - 11 August 2018
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1150

The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and longest-lasting in world history. Within its huge territory, Rome ruled over an enormous diversity of tribes and groups with vastly different ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This course looks at how the empire impacted those pre-existing communities. How did conquest and incorporation into the Roman Empire change the lives of individual people at grass-roots level?

To make sense of the enormous wealth and great variety of archaeological, documentary and ecological data available to help us answer this question, we take an anthropological approach. Alternately adopting a global and a local perspective, we look at the whole spectrum of evidence – from battlefields, military forts, cities, farms, temple sites, quarries and mines to papyri, writing tablets, monumental Latin inscriptions, coins, production stamps, votive offerings, agricultural implements, human and animal bones, pollen and ice cores.

But our outlook extends far beyond the historical. This course also invites you to reflect upon “hot” current issues such as globalization and identity, migration, social exclusion, mass violence, colonialism and sustainability by considering similarities and differences between the modern and Roman worlds. We use the example of this empire as a pathway to reflect critically upon contemporary society and the globalizing world in which we now live.

Course leader

Dr Ton Derks

Target group

Students and professionals from all disciplines with a general interest in the history and archaeology of the Roman Empire and/or a particular interest in the social effects of imperialism and globalization. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Course aim

At the end of this course you will have:
•Acquired a balanced view of the “achievements” of the Roman Empire.
•Gained a general impression of the empire’s organization and workings.
•Gained an understanding of the paradoxical contrast between globalization affected by imperial domination and cultural diversity.
•Learned to use your knowledge of institutions and cultural processes in the Roman world for critical reflection on contemporary society.
•Deepened your knowledge of Roman material culture.
•Gained some understanding of the many ways the past of the Roman frontier is presented to contemporary society through academic texts, heritage presentations, museums, websites and apps.
•Acquired a comparative and historically informed perspective of “hot” topics in contemporary society.

Credits info

Contact Hours: 48
If you want to earn more credits you can take courses in our other sessions to create a 4 or 6 week programme.

Fee info

EUR 1150: The tuition fee includes:
• Airport pick-up service
• Welcome goodie bag
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• Emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply and pay before 15 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

There are also discounts for students who attend multiple sessions, combine 2 courses and receive a €200 discount and combine 3 to receive a €300 discount. All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered.


The VU Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition and housing fees of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.

Register for this course
on course website