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Ancient Rome Summer School: student perspectives

The British School at Rome
Undergraduate Summer School 2008

If you can manage to go to the BSR this summer, I do highly recommend it. Last summer I spent an amazing twelve days in Rome exploring the city. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with people who were as interested in the ancient world as I am, without getting strange looks! Not only is the course led by two prominent scholars -Robert Coates-Stevens and Matthew Nicholls- they’re both also a lot of fun. They will take you around the most famous sites; the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum Romanum but you will also get the chance to visit places not open to the general public. We visited the excavations taking place in the Forum of Julius Caesar, to the great envy of another group who tried to follow us
through the gate and to whom we had to explain, in some fairly abysmal Italian, that they weren’t allowed in! You also don’t just stay in Rome, we visited Ostia and Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli.
It’s not a school trip, although you spend most of the morning walking around in a group, it’s far less formal than Matthew or Robert in front of the group talking about whatever monument we were standing in front of at that particular moment. One of our group was an expert on medicine in the ancient world, so Robert called upon his knowledge to help explain medical tools depicted in a grave relief. After about four o’clock, the rest of the day is yours until the evening lecture, so it’s a perfect time to go shopping, see some of the non Classical sites or revisit something that caught your eye. After the lecture and dinner, the evening is yours as well, if you fancy just chatting outside, playing ping-pong in the common
room, or heading out to find a bar- which we did at least twice! By the end of the course we had made some great friends, had some in-jokes that were only funny to us (“it’s positively ludic!”) and had a far deeper understanding of the city of Rome than before.

So, the British School at Rome is an amazing opportunity for anyone who is primarily interested in Rome - it will certainly come in helpful with any Roman orientated modules you take (such as Transformation of Roman Society under Augustus or City of Rome) and there is nothing quite like hearing something like the Ara Pacis discussed in a lecture and be able to picture it in your mind! I certainly had a fantastic time and I’m sure you will too!

Amber Gartrell

The British School at Rome
Undergraduate Summer School 2004

The theme of this year’s Summer School was the running of the city and how all the different components fitted together. Every day was structured around an aspect of Roman life and we then explored the city incorporating the buildings and remains. The highlight of the trip was the fact that we received special permits to gain access to normally closed sites such as walking in the Forum Augustus, climbing the Monte Testaccio and possibly the best, climbing Trajan’s Column. This is a brilliant opportunity for students to stay in Rome, and whilst there is a lot to learn you can enjoy the social life as well. I highly recommend it but be warned it is extremely demanding and not just on your feet!

Julie Sutcliffe

British School at Rome

A well earned lunch break