This unit will provide students with a comprehensive overview of women’s roles, position and status in Late Antiquity (the period of transition from the ancient to the medieval world, 3rd to 8th century CE), 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 such as Hypatia the philosopher, Melania the aristocrat, Theodora the Empress, Pelagia the harlot, and Syncletica the desert mother. The unit will also analyse the roles these women played in religious and theological debates, the home, and social and economic life.

Unit code: AH8150A (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

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;


Analyse the change in attitude towards women in the transition from Ancient to early 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.


Critically evaluate the theological significance of monastic architecture


Lectures, classroom discussion, guided reading from set texts, additional reading resources and notes

Indicative Bibliography

Primary sources:

Secondary sources:

  • Brock, Sebastian & Susan Harvey, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, (London, 1998).
  • Clark, Elizabeth, Women in the Early Church (Collegeville, 1983).
  • Clark, Gillian, Women in Late Antiquity, (Oxford, 1994).
  • Coon, Lynda, Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity, (Philadelphia, 1997).
  • Dietz, Maribel, Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims, (University Park, 2005).
  • Grubbs, Judith Evan, Women and the Law in the Roman Empire, A Sourcebook, (Routledge, 2002).
  • Kraemer, Ross, Her Share of the Blessings: Women's Religions among Pagans, Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman World, (Oxford, 1992).
  • Kraemer, Ross & Mary Rose D'Angelo, Women and Christian Origins (Oxford, 1999).
  • Wilfong, T.G., Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt (Ann Arbor, 2005). USD18


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Written Assessment Task 3000 words

3000 50.0
Project Report or Project Journal

Written Assessment Task – Project Report 1500 words

1500 25.0

Written Assessment Task - Discussion 1500 words

1500 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-22 13:41:22 +1100