Roman City Life


Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's Schedule: Click here to view

Aims of the Course

The main aim of this course is to ignite an interest in ancient civilisations by taking a deep dive into the world of city living during classical Rome. 

It's a compelling story: did you know that Romans brought the city to Western Europe? Materials like stone-built buildings, paved streets, roof tiles; "modern conveniences" like piped water, sewers, under-floor heating – all these things made it possible for large numbers of people to live together and have city life as we know it today. They had shops and bars, blocks of flats, places of worship and assembly, and places of entertainment. Behind blank facades there might be squalid and crumbling tenements, or a hidden designer house with a garden the size of a small public park. And both the poor and the superrich had to thread their way through the crowded streets – although the rich had an entourage to clear the way or even had themselves carried in a litter. 

Juvenal, Horace, and Pliny will be our guides, and we will explore the archaeology of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Homework Expectations

As in all courses at Dreaming Spires, the homework each week is to read about 50-60 pages of text, write a short summary, answer some discussion questions, and attend a one-hour webinar where, mostly, the tutors talks on the mic and students type in the chatbox. 

Add-On Options

The add-on writing extension for this course will focus on how one writes like a historian, using objects, written sources, maps, and more. The homework for this averages 2 hours a week, and when combined with the main course, affords any US student an “honors” designation on their completion certificate.

How It Supports Your Child's Education

For UK students and others doing UK-style IGCSE exams, the add-on writing option has been specifically designed to support the British OCR Classical Civiliation GCSE exam. When combined with the sister course about mythology and religion and topped off with the short coaching course that takes place in January or over Easter, the year-long course forms a substantial part of a comprehensive revision programme. 

For US students, this course will attract one honors credit in world history for a high school transcript.

Who Teaches Roman City Life?

Alison Samuels is a former home-educating mum and a graduate of St John's College, Cambridge. She was one of the first women admitted to her alma mater, when it stopped being for men only. Her long teaching experience includes more than 20 years as a Classics lecturer with the Open University.
See all courses taught by Alison