Professor Mark Humphries

Professor Mark Humphries
Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Telephone: (01792) 602786

Mark Humphries is Professor of Ancient History at Swansea University, having previously held appointments at St Andrews, Leicester, Manchester, and the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He is a general editor, with Professor Gillian Clark (University of Bristol) and Dr Mary Whitby (University of Oxford) of the series Translated Texts for Historians (Liverpool University Press), which publishes scholarly translations of and commentaries on texts from Late Antiquity (AD300-800). He is also a joint editor, with Professor Oliver Nicholson (University of Minnesota) of the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity, and is a also a member of the international advisory board for the Irish Theological Quarterly.

Areas of Expertise

  • History and literature of Late Antiquity
  • Early Christianity
  • City of Rome
  • Hagiography and the cult of saints


  1. ‘Late Antiquity and World History: Challenging Conventional Narratives and Analyses’. Studies in Late Antiquity 1(1), 8-37.
  2. ‘Emperors, Usurpers, and the City of Rome: Performing Power from Diocletian to Theodosius’. In Johannes Wienand (Ed.), Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD. (pp. 151-168). New York: OUP.
  3. Liturgy and Laity in Late-Antique Rome: Problems, Sources, and Social Dynamics. Studia Patristica 71, 171-186.
  4. Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425-55): Patronage, Politics, Power. In Grig, L. & Kelly, G. (Ed.), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity). (pp. 161-182). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. The Tyrant’s Mask? Images of Good and Bad Rule in Julian’s Letter to the Athenians. In N. Baker-Brian & S. Tougher (Ed.), Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate. (pp. 75-90). Swansea: CPW.

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  • CL-M08 Research Methodologies in Ancient History

    This module is designed to develop academic research skills, an understanding of the methods used in the advanced study of Classics and Ancient History, and a grasp of appropriate ways of presenting the results of such study.

  • CL-M09 Dissertation in Ancient History and or Classical Literature

    Dissertation in Ancient History or an approved Classical subject.

  • CL-M50 Narrative genres and theory

    A series of case-studies surveying the narrative literature of classical antiquity, and exploring appropriate literary and cultural theory.

  • CL-M78 Saints and Sinners in Christian Late Antiquity

    This module will analyse the presentation of various figures ¿ ranging from emperors and empresses to monks and bishops ¿ as heroes and villains in the discourses of the Christian Roman Empire in late antiquity. The core material for study will focus on texts: these will include accounts of emperors such as Eusebius¿ panegyrical Life of Constantine, diverging accounts of the emperor Julian from pagan and Christian perspectives, and Procopius¿ scandalous account of Justinian and Theodora in the Anekdota (Secret History), as well as various classics of the hagiographical genre, such as the lives of St Antony, St Martin of Tours, and St Ambrose of Milan. The module will also consider hagiographical literature produced in the 'Oriental' languages of Coptic (in Egypt) and Syriac (in the Near East). Students will be encouraged, in consultation with the module teacher, to follow their own interests in preparing their written assessments for the module: thus Egyptologists might examine a corpus of Egyptian hagiography, while medievalists might explore the Nachleben of various early Christian figures in the early and central middle ages.

  • CLD300 Classics, Ancient History, Egyptology Dissertation

    Dissertation module for students doing single honours or joint honours degrees in Classics, Classical Civilisation, Ancient History or Egyptology. The aim is for students to do detailed research, to work on a project for several months and to produce a scholarly study of c. 8000-10000 words. The dissertation topic can be chosen freely, in consultation with a member of academic staff and subject to compatibility with a student's degree scheme and availablilty of supervisors and library material.This is a chance for students to pursue an area in which they are especially interested, and to deal with it in depth. Students may choose to do museum-based research. There are two preparatory pieces of assessment: an abstract, outline and bibliography, and an analysis of crucial source material and/or secondary literature. Work on the dissertation itself takes up most of the two semesters. Students are expected to do research independently, but there is a series of lectures in the first semester to provide advice on research and scholarly writing, Every student will be assigned a supervisor who will be organising group sessions with his/her supervisees and who will also be available for one-to-one supervision sessions.

  • CLH150 Rome from Village to Empire: An Introduction to Roman History

    This module provides an introduction to the full sweep of Roman history from the origins of the city (traditionally recorded as 753 BC) through its expansion and development as the centre of a world empire to the political and military eclipse of the western empire in the 5th century AD. Students will learn about the political and military institutions of (in particular) the Republican and Imperial periods of Roman history, the cultural, social and economic characteristics of those periods, and about Rome's relationships with its subjects and neighbours. While the core of the module consists of lectures providing a survey overview of over a millenium of Roman history, seminars will enable students to undertake in-depth case studies relating to particular periods, engaging with both contemporary written evidence (read in translation) and material and visual evidence.

  • CLH284 Writing Ancient History

    This module examines the writing and study of ancient history. It considers the range of available evidence (historical sources, epigraphy, biography, archaeology, numismatics) as well as modern approaches to the interpretation of the evidence.

  • CLH388 Late Antiquity; The Transformation of the Roman World AD 250-600

    This module examines the seismic events and processes that saw the ancient world transformed into that of the early middle ages. At the beginning of the period, the Roman empire remained the dominant state in the Mediterranean world and the Near East; but by its end, the Roman empire had all but disappeared in the west, where it was replaced by kingdoms ruler by barbarian overlords, while in the east, the Roman state was beginning to take on the shape associated by historians with medieval Byzantium. There were other changes occurring too in culture and society, notably the shift in Christianity¿s position from a persecuted cult to the dominant religion. These trends are examined through a range of textual, iconographic, and archaeological sources.

  • CLP200 Level 2 Project

    This module enables students to expand their knowledge of the Classical and/or ancient Egyptian world in an area of their own choice, and to experiment with a method of communicating that knowledge which is different from the usual assessment practices of essay-writing and exam-writing. They might undertake research that leads to (for example) the construction of a database, the reconstruction of some ancient Greco-Roman or Egyptian artefact, or the production of a storyboard, play script or dramatisation. They might acquire experience of a communication method which could be of use in a future career, e.g. by constructing a teaching plan, writing in a journalistic or creative style, or planning a museum exhibit. They might choose to experiment with a different medium of communication, e.g. video, website. The topic and form of the project chosen must both be approved by the module convener.

  • HIH2011 The Heirs of Rome: The Making of Christendom, Byzantium, and Islam in the Early Middle Ages, 400-800

    The period between AD 400 and 800 saw the unmaking of the world of antiquity and the forging of the new civilizations of medieval Christendom, Byzantium, and Islam. It is, in short, an era with reverberations that are keenly felt in the present. This module will trace the main outlines of this seminal period, showing how the heritage of the Roman world was transformed in diverse ways during the early medieval centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the emergence of new forms of polity, religion, and socio-economic structures. On completion of the module, students will have a keen appreciation of how and why the different regions of eastern and western Europe and the Middle East, once untied under Roman rule, had come to follow widely diverging destinies.


  • Expansion of Christianity in the late-antique Balkans,300-600 (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Nigel Pollard
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Nigel Pollard
  • '''''A comparative study of the impact of World Heritage status on the local communities at Ercolano and Blaenavon. ''''' (awarded 2016)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Edwin Owens
  • ''''Fire in the urban settlements of the Roman World'''' (awarded 2013)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Nigel Pollard
  • Roman trade in the Indian Ocean during the Principate. (awarded 2012)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Nigel Pollard