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Whilst it is not essential to do any background reading before the course begins, you may find it useful to do so. The reading list below contains books that you can read. You don’t have to read all of these. Indeed, we don’t specify any that you must read. Instead, these are readings you can use to gain a preliminary understanding of topics, as well as to study in more depth those parts of the course you are particularly interested in. You may also want to take a look at magazines such as British Archaeology, World Archaeology and Current Archaeology.

Further suggestions about ways you can extend your understanding of topics through books, television etc may also be posted as appropriate here on the tutor’s personal blog, as well as on the WEA East Midlands Region History Space.


Miles, R. 2011. Ancient Worlds: The Search for the Origins of Western Civilisation. Penguin. (A DVD of the BBC TV series which this book accompanies is also available).


Tacitus. Agricola. (Published by Penguin Classics etc)

Tacitus. Germania. (Published by Penguin Classics etc)


Birley, A. 2002. Garrison Life at Vindolanda: A Band of Brothers. History Press.

Collins, R. 2014. Hadrian’s Wall and the End of Empire: The Roman Frontier in the 4th and 5th Centuries. Routledge.

Elton, H. 2012. Frontiers of the Roman Empire. Routledge.

Goodman, M. 2011. The Roman World 44 BC – AD 180. 2nd Edition. Routledge.

Kelly, C. 2006. The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press

Parker, P. 2010. The Empire Stops Here: A Journey along the Frontiers of the Roman World. Pimlico.