Roman Culture and Society is the only core module which every student in the department takes during the first year, whatever their degree course. 58 students are enrolled this year, including 2 students from the Italian dept studying Italian and Classics + 2 Erasmus exchange students from France and Italy + one part-time student from our own department. As such, the module is used for skills training for the first years during the autumn term, when the lectures incorporate a reflective and practical session on a different aspect of study skills each week. Given the module’s place within the course structure, this would make it ideal as a means of experimenting with new pedagogic techniques, designed to encourage the students to develop new transferrable skills and to foster their own research interests.
The British Museum next year is presenting a major exhibition ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’, and this neatly complements the content of much of the module Roman Culture and Society, where the artefacts of Pompeii and Herculaneum are used as case studies for a variety of topics, including economy, family structures, slavery, burial, public spectacles, and religion. I would like to be able to take the students to this exhibition and then give them the opportunity to engage with what they have seen afterwards, but the cost of doing this is beyond what we can reasonable expect students to pay: I am therefore seeking IATL funding to pay for exhibition tickets for students + staff accompanying the trip, and for some subsidy for the coach hire. This year I would like to explore innovative ways to engage the students more actively in thinking about the artefacts on display in the museum and in working together collaboratively in pairs after the trip in order to engage actively in a research project of their own.
On their return to campus, the students will be given two weeks to design an A4 poster discussing one artefact, or a group of artefacts, and what they can tell us about an aspect of Roman Culture and Society, for example illuminating themes covered in the module such as religion, family life, or economic activity. They will be given a list of criteria and advice on how to design a poster. The students producing the best two posters (judged on academic quality and presentation) will be awarded copies of the exhibition catalogue as a prize, for which I am also seeking IATL support. The posters will be submitted anonymously and judged by a panel of students from the other years in the department alongside the academic staff module leader + one other member of staff. Uploading the students’ posters onto the departmental website will also make a contribution to the department’s Impact agenda focusing upon Pompeii and Herculaneum.