This unit will provide students with a comprehensive overview of women in Late Antiquity (the period of transition from the ancient to the medieval world, 3rd to 8th century AD), and attitudes towards them. By reading selected primary sources, this unit will introduce students to some of the most powerful and influential women in antiquity, and the role they played in religious and theological debates. Religion will be the backdrop in directing our discussions given that it provided one of the most important ways in which women participated in the public sphere in Late Antiquity.

Women such as Hypatia the philosopher, Melania the aristocrat, Theodora the Empress, Pelagia the harlot, and Syncletica the desert mother will be considered. In addition, by studying the Upper Egyptian town of Jeme, we will look at women’s lives in a typical Coptic town in Late Antique Egypt to understand the status of women and the role they played in the home as well as in religious, social and economic life.

Unit code: AH2150A (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: History

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Provide a historical overview of women's history in Late Antiquity and evaluate the various roles they played;


Articulate how attitudes towards women changed in the transition from Ancient to Medieval times;


Compare and contrast the various theologies that were prominent in Late Antiquity and the role some of the women (considered in the unit) played in these debates;


Develop a critical framework for reading and interpreting historical events contained in the primary sources.


Face to Face: 12 weekly sessions consisting of lectures, presentations, and class discussion.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 2000 words

0 40.0
Oral Presentation

Oral presentation + 1250 word written summary

0 30.0
Oral Presentation

Oral presentation + 1250 word written summary

0 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-01-25 11:52:27 +1100