Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


Subject to the approval of Head of School



Unit rationale, description and aim

Learning to identify, understand, evaluate and make connections between different ideas, perspectives and bodies of knowledge is vital in academic study and transferable to the workplace. This intensive overseas field school unit develops this skill set by requiring students to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, applying and combining concepts and approaches from the allied disciplines of archaeology, history and geography to the study of Rome's development over three millennia. Taught entirely in the field at sites in and around Rome, students learn how geography has influenced historical development and how history has impacted on the built environment. The unit adopts a 'hands on' approach to learning, with site activities designed to maximise interaction and engagement with the physical remnants of human development while engaged in continuous critical reflection.

This unit is a senior-level study abroad experience for students undertaking a major in Archaeology, History or Geography, but enrolment is open to any ACU student subject to approval. The aim is to give students an opportunity to explore the archaeological, geographical and historical evidence of the evolution of Rome, and at the same time provide a powerful overseas learning experience that fosters personal growth through immersion in a different culture and environment.

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 - Discuss broad and deep theoretical and factual knowledge of the symbiotic relationship between history and geography within the context of Rome and its environs and apply this to a variety of key conceptual approaches that archaeologists, historians and geographers use to shape debates about this topic. (GA5, GA6)

LO2 - Explain ideas and concepts to a specified audience using audio, digital, oral, visual or written form as appropriate (GA9)

LO3 - Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials and use them to sustain a nuanced evidence-based narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10)

LO4 - Critically analyse archaeological, geographical and historical evidence, synthesise scholarship and changing representations of Rome according to the methodological and ethical disciplinary conventions of history and geography through an independently formulated research task related to current historical debates (GA3, GA7, GA9, GA10

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical and geographical theories and concepts and relate them to their own reading or to field-based learning activities during the unit. (GA4, GA5, GA6)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • The regional environmental setting of Rome and how this shaped Rome’s foundation
  • ·The archaeology of Roman settlements and issues of heritage and conservation
  • ·The role of geology, topography and natural resources in the urban development and expansion of Rome
  • The importance of water resources and water management in Roman history from its origins to the present
  • The impact of human activity on the physical and urban environment of Rome
  • The enduring influence of ancient Rome on the post-classical development of the city, c. AD 500 - present
  • Natural disasters, climatic shifts and their impact on the landscape and history of Rome
  • Population change, settlement patterns, vegetation change and the landscape response
  • Rome as an ideal.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit is undertaken via attendance at pre-departure workshops, an intensive overseas field school in Rome, and a post-field school debrief session back in Australia.

Pre-departure workshops provide students with basic content knowledge, as well as guidance and advice around key issues, debates and problems. In this way, the workshops establish a framework appropriate for independent learning. Workshops are also used to prepare students for the intellectual, emotional and physical challenges of undertaking field-based, interdisciplinary study overseas. The in-country field school prioritises a ‘hands-on, field-based approach. Studies of field-based learning demonstrate that leaving the classroom and learning through first-hand experience makes learning more interesting, enjoyable and relevant to students. This has been found to lead to greater student engagement, deeper learning and increased effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes. Field-based learning has also been shown to create a collective mentality among participants which enhances students’ understanding of the importance of cooperation and teamwork. On-site, group-based, problem-based learning activities are employed in order to develop interdisciplinary content knowledge as well as problem-solving, reasoning, communication, and interpersonal skills. End-of-day debriefs while overseas and a final debrief session on return to Australia allow students to reflect on their learning experiences both during and after the completion of the field school. Students are also expected to use the Learning Management System to post short answer reflections on their learning while in-country (see assessment task 1 below). Research shows that critical reflection facilitates deeper learning.

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 workshops, onsite learning, site visits, supported by webinars, podcasts or online materials and private study where appropriate.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements

Assessment task one is a relatively lightly-weighted, investigative-reflective task designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes 1 and 2.. It is important for students engaged in interdisciplinary study to understand relevant key ideas and concepts from the disciplines of Archaeology, History and Geography; it is equally important that students learn to make the connection (through critical reflection) between ideas and concepts learnt from books and the ‘real world’, in this case through field-based activities and observations of the physical remains of Rome and its environments. Assessment task one provides students with these opportunities. Assessment task two (research task) tests achievement of Learning outcomes 1-4. It requires students to apply key historical and geographical ideas and concepts to the interdisciplinary study of specific sites in and around of Rome, at the same time utilizing a range of relevant source materials to draw conclusions as to the symbiotic relationship between History and Geography within the context of the city.

Assessment task three (research task) is summative and assesses student achievement of learning outcomes 2-5. This task allows students to demonstrate the skills, understanding and knowledge they have acquired and/or developed during the unit through the construction of an appropriately referenced and sourced, evidence-based narrative or argument. The task also allows students to demonstrate their ability to communicate their idea and arguments clearly in written form.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Investigative/reflective task

The purpose of this task is to develop students’ knowledge of key archaeological, historical and geographical concepts and ideas and encourage students to make connections between text-based and field-based learning.


LO1, LO2, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9

Assessment Task 2: Research task

This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply key historical and geographical ideas and concepts to the interdisciplinary study of specific sites in and around of Rome, at the same time utilising a range of relevant source materials to draw conclusions as to the symbiotic relationship between the history and geography of Rome and its surrounds. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 3: Summative task

This task enables students to demonstrate the skills, understanding and knowledge they have acquired and/or developed during the unit through the construction of an appropriately referenced and sourced, evidence-based, historical narrative or argument. The task also allows students to demonstrate their ability to communicate their ideas and arguments clearly in written form.

The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise.


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Aldrete, G.S. (2008). Daily life in the Roman city: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Bosworth, R. J. B. (2011). Whispering City: Rome and its Histories. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Campbell, B. (2012). Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Claridge, A. (2010). Oxford Archaeological Guide: Rome (2nd Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Heiken, G., Funicello, R., and De Rita, D. (2007) The Seven Hills of Rome: A Geological Tour of the Eternal City. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Hughes, J.D. (2014). Environmental Problems of the Greeks and Romans. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Kallis, A. (2014). The Third Rome. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Taylor, R., Rinne, K. W., and Kostof, S. (2016). Rome: An Urban History from Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Thommen, L. (2012). An Environmental History of Ancient Greece and Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wickham, C. (2015). Medieval Rome. Stability and Crisis of a City, 900-1150. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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