About the content
Explore the architecture and history of Rome, walking around a 3D digital model of the ancient city, with this free online course.
Take a guided tour around ancient Rome with University of Reading expert, Dr Matthew Nicholls, using his detailed, historically accurate and award-winning, 3D digital model of this awe-inspiring city.
Immerse yourself in the architecture and history of Ancient Rome
Join Matthew on a walk around the city of Rome, and ask yourself:
Why was this ancient city built where it was? Did all roads really lead to Rome? How was drinking water supplied to the city’s million inhabitants? Where did Romans worship their gods and meet their political masters? And which buildings provided a backdrop for the spectacular events that both celebrated emperors and secured the loyalty of the masses?
The course will encourage you to explore the answers to all of these questions and many more. It combines excerpts and ‘virtual walk around’ views of the 3D digital model with timelines, animations and 360 degree panoramic images. Moving seamlessly between the digital model and real-life film footage of contemporary Rome, Matthew brings the ancient city to life as never before.
By the end of the course, you will:
- be familiar with the topography, architecture, and political and social history of ancient Rome;
- understand how experts study these topics and what they use as source material to gain an accurate insight into the past;
- and better understand and interpret the archaeological ruins that you might encounter, for example, on holiday in Rome.
- Learn with a Roman history expert from the University of Reading
- Throughout the course, you will learn with Dr Matthew Nicholls, a recognised expert on ancient Rome. Matthew has extensive broadcast and public speaking experience on Roman history, and directs a specialist Masters degree on the ancient city in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading.
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
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.
The University of Reading was founded in 1892 during a period of rapid development in the city of Reading, England. This is one of the Red Brick University.
FutureLearn is a massive open online course (MOOC) learning platform founded in December 2012.
It is a company launched and wholly owned by The Open University in Milton Keynes, England. It is the first UK-led massive open online course learning platform, and as of March 2015 included 54 UK and international University partners and unlike similar platforms includes four non-university partners: the British Museum, the British Council, the British Library and the National Film and Television School.