Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


10 cp from 100-level units in Art History, History, Theological Studies, Studies of Religion or Philosophy

Unit rationale, description and aim

The ''Rome of the Popes'' was one of the key centres of the High Renaissance and the birthplace of Baroque. By focusing on these periods in a two-week intensive field trip, students will engage with the works in situ, looking at how art practice was influenced by the beliefs and politics of the Reformation and Counter-reformation and the way in which classical iconography was transformed by Renaissance and Baroque artists. This unit illustrates a bridge between the classical and modern periods, demonstrating the influence of the past but also examining the emerging importance of the ‘individual’, ‘truth’ and relationships of power that have become key to our understanding of western culture. Exploring these narratives whilst critiquing the works will provide students with a new way of imagining the socio-political and aesthetic fabric of the period and the ways in which they connect to the history of western humanity and the arts as a whole.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate an understanding of the symbiotic relationship between visual culture and religion within the contexts of the social, politics and religious history of Rome (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Demonstrate the influence of Rome as a preeminent centre of cultural production on the imagery of Europe and the ‘New Worlds’ (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Analyse and evaluate the cultural artifacts (art and architecture) within the context of relevant primary and secondary material for the time period studied (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)

LO4 - Produce evidence of continuous and critical reflection on the unit experience through the learning log (GA4, GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media


Topics may include:

  • The way in which the art of Renaissance and Baroque Rome draws on the iconographies of a Classical past whilst demonstrating the concerns of an age interested in faith, truth and the growing importance of the power of the individual
  • The importance of Rome and its Catholic history in shaping part of the fundamental socio-political discourses of the early modern period: those of commerce and statehood
  • The effect of patronage and the influence of the Vatican in the development of arts and artists in Rome
  • An examination of the significance of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation on the type of art and why it was produced across the period
  • The relationship between the cultural centre of Rome and that of Florence and Venice in the same time frame
  • The significance of ‘New World’ cultures appropriating the Classical, Renaissance and Baroque imagery of Rome to demonstrate and reinforce Enlightenment values
  • The meaning and significance of ‘Rome’ in pre- and post-unification Italy (19th and 20th centuries)
  • Showcasing the most outstanding examples of Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque art through direct experiences with the masterpieces of the day

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as 2 x one day intensive seminars prior to departure and a two week ‘in-country’ field school in Rome with workload equivalent to 150 hours of study, including class attendance, readings, presentations and preparation for assignments.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment types for this unit include a pre-tour background research task to contextualise and develop some awareness of the destination and the Baroque period; a research essay; and a seminar presentation in-situ with a range of key works. One purpose of these assessments is to extend students' essay writing skills as well as critical, visual analysis and research skills. Another is to scaffold learning to give students a chance to acclimatise to the immersive environment, to research and discuss works whilst we are in Rome and then to complete a research essay upon return which also requires students to reflect on cultural production in the wider global context.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Literature review and online reflective journal

Gives students the opportunity to critically reflect on some of the key themes to prepare them for the trip and as an ongoing resource.



GA4, GA5

In-situ Presentation

Gives students experience of analysing artworks in a real-world context.


LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Research Essay

To allow students to bring together critical research, writing and visual analysis.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bailey, G. A. (2015). Between Renaissance and Baroque: Jesuit art in Rome, 1565-1610. University of Toronto Press.

Bosworth, R. J. B. (2011). Whispering city: Modern Rome and its histories. Yale University Press.

Caldwell, D. S., & Caldwell, L. (2011). Rome: Continuing encounters between past and present. Ashgate.

Hollingsworth, M., & Richardson, C. M. (2010). The possessions of a Cardinal: Politics, piety, and art, 1450-1700. The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Martin, J. R. (2018). Baroque. Routledge.

Morello, G. (1993). Vatican treasures: 2000 years of art and culture in the Vatican and Italy. Electa.

Murray, P., & Murray, L. (1963). The art of the Renaissance. Thames and Hudson.

Murray, L. (1977). The high Renaissance and Mannerism: Italy, the North and Spain, 1500-1600. Thames and Hudson.

Ostrow, S. (1996). Arts and spirituality in counter-reformation Rome: The Sistine and Pauline chapels in S. Maria Maggiore. Cambridge University Press.

Sanger, A. E., & Walker, S. T. K. (2012). Sense and the senses in early modern art and cultural practice. Ashgate.

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