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Online course

Rome: a Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

Explore the architecture and history of Rome, walking around a 3D digital model of the ancient city, with this free online course.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Rome: a Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

Explore ancient Rome through a unique, historically accurate 3D model.

Take a guided tour around ancient Rome with expert Dr Matthew Nicholls, using his detailed and award-winning 3D digital model of the city. Explore Rome’s architecture and how it was used - how did Romans worship their gods and meet their political masters? How was drinking water supplied to the city’s million inhabitants? Moving seamlessly between footage of contemporary Rome and the digital model (including interactive elements), you’ll explore these questions and much more.

Use this insight to inform your own encounters with the eternal city and the study of ancient history more generally.

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

Week one: Ancient Rome location and infrastructure

  • Geographical and historical overview
  • Introduction to the digital model
  • Roman building materials and techniques
  • The importance of aqueducts and sewers
  • Using coins to illustrate ancient architecture

Week two: Political architecture in Ancient Rome

  • The Imperial Fora
  • The function and development of the Forum
  • Types of monumental architecture
  • Using poetry as evidence to investigate the past

Week three: Religious architecture in Ancient Rome

  • Overview of Roman religion
  • The architecture of the Capitoline Hill
  • Developments in Imperial temple architecture
  • Worshipping the gods

Week four: Life and death in Ancient Rome

  • Overview of Roman housing
  • Food supply in the ancient city
  • How the Romans liked to be remembered
  • Using inscriptions as evidence to investigate the past

Week five: Bread and circuses (entertainment architecture) in Ancient Rome

  • The importance of entertainment for Rome’s rulers
  • The architecture and function of theatres and circuses
  • Roman baths and bathing
  • Using evidence to understand the Colosseum

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore different categories of building within the city, and the functions they housed
  • Investigate a range of evidence including archaeological remains, coins, literary texts, and inscriptions to learn how we can understand and interpret the ancient past
  • Discuss the way the rulers of Rome used architecture to adorn the city and keep it functioning
  • Experience digital modelling as a way of presenting the ancient past, exploring models on screen and in videos and discussing what they can show us

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone with an interest in discovering more about ancient Rome. You might be: planning a visit to the Italian capital; an avid watcher of documentaries on Roman history; or considering studying archaeology, classics or history at university.

What do people say about this course?

Diving in those marvellous virtual tours was something new for me and also very informative. Thank you very much.

Cleopatra Strati

A very interesting, engaging course. Thank you, Matthew! I hope to find many of these sites when I am in Rome for the first time in October. As for the "eternal" question of which emporer had the biggest impact, my initial thought was Augustus and I'm even more sure of my answer having completed the course. He not only built many great structures but set the standard that others followed in building and growing this great city.

Linda Shearman

Who will you learn with?

Matthew Nicholls

Dr Matthew Nicholls is a Roman historian at the University of Reading, specialising in the 3D reconstruction of ancient spaces. He also directs the University's Open Online Course programme.

Who developed the course?

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $89 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

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  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

Image certificate mobile

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV
  • Includes free shipping

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete.

Upgrade


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