HIS-30141 - The contested city: a spatial history of Rome, 1870-1978
Coordinator: Aristotle Kallis Tel: +44 1782 7 34145
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

In 1870, Rome was a city of 250,000 under the political rule of the Popes and only just beginning to resemble something like a modern city. But on 20 October of that year the troops of the recently unified Kingdom of Italy forced their way into the city and established it as the national capital. In the following hundred years, Rome's territory and population expanded tenfold; but more importantly, the city went through three distinct political regimes - including a Fascist dictatorship that lasted more than two decades; political instability; war and foreign occupation; economic transformation and diverse social struggles; and tumultuous change in its urban and social environment.
This module will explore how the city was shaped by all these historical events and processes, using selected urban locations/landmarks as the starting point for exploring each weekly theme. Important events such as the death of King Victor Emmanuel II and Pope Pius IX (1878), Italy¿s fraught entry into World War One (1915), the Fascist March on Rome (1922), the referendum on monarchy (1946), the `economic miracle¿ of the 1950s, the student uprising of 1968, and the assassination of prime minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978, will be situated on the physical landscape of Rome, with the use of interactive maps and audiovisual material. Studying the history of Rome during this tumultuous period will also serve as a window into the history of Italy and Europe as a whole.

The module aims to acquaint students with the tumultuous history of Rome during the approximately hundred years between the annexation of the city by the recently unified Italian Kingdom (1870) and the violent political conflicts of the 1970s. The module will examine how historical change was inscribed on the landscape and cityscape of the city, drawing on approaches that highlight the role of power, ideology, religion, class, and urban transformation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

demonstrate an ability to apply theoretical and conceptual tools to the study of history: 1,2
undertake research in a comparative and trans-disciplinary context: 1,2
handle, relate, and analyse different types of primary evidence (texts, images, maps, statistics): 1,2
discuss, evaluate, and engage with historiographical debates on modern Italian history: 1,2
analyse the ways in which different historical events and processes of change have been inscribed on the landscape, cityscape, and memory of a city: 1,2
appreciate how effects of radical change (political, economic, cultural) can be inscribed on urban environment: 1,2
construct and communicate historical arguments informed by both primary and secondary sources: 2
develop knowledge and understanding of the modern history of Rome and Italy from 1870 to 1978: 2

Study hours

20 hrs seminars
15 hrs study of asynchronous material
50 hrs seminar preparation
40 hrs researching and writing project
25 hrs researching and writing portfolio tasks

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Project weighted 60%
A c.2500-word project chosen by the student in consultation with the tutor. It should focus on a particular location within the city and explore it historically. The project will be partly aligned with the portfolio in order to structure learning and preparation for the final assessment. Students will be given options with regard to the format and presentation of the project: for example, traditional extended essay or digital multimedia document.

2: Portfolio weighted 40%
A series of fortnightly tasks aligned with the seminar topics and the project assessment, to be completed and submitted electronically ahead of the corresponding seminar via Teams. These will vary from source commentaries to research posters to online buzz groups to online collaborative tasks to short presentations at the seminar to audiovisual and/or multimedia productions. Students will be expected to do the same number and types of tasks over the duration of the module. Each portfolio task will have its own deadline and short feedback will be provided to students shortly after submission date (again using Teams functionality). Each task deadline will be considered as a firm one.