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Courses & Credits

The program offers three calendar options, and the amount of credit you earn and your choices of electives vary depending on the calendar option you choose and the amount of time you spend in each city.

Recommended credit for each calendar option:

  • 18-week semester: 19–20 semester credits
  • 15-week semester: 16–17 semester credits
  • 10-week winter quarter/trimester: 11–12 semester credits

Courses in London

Courses in Florence

Except for Italian language, all courses are taught in English. There are no prerequisites for any of the courses. 

Course offerings are subject to change based on the number of students enrolled in each course.

Note: For students participating in the winter quarter/trimester, course credits should be equivalent to those of a full quarter/trimester on the home campus. Contact your advisor and/or the Registrar at your college for any questions about the distribution of quarter/trimester credits.

  More information about credit distribution and grades

Courses in London

NOTE: Students participating in either the 15- or 18-week (Florence first) program may choose any two of the three elective course options in London.

Students participating in a London-first program will take London as a Visual Text and the faculty director's course. Collecting the World in London is offered as a 3-week intensive option for the 18-week (London first) students. More information 

London as Visual Text

Instructor: Andrew Kennedy
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Course syllabus

Examining London as a visual text, we will look at stories about the city told via buildings, public spaces, sculpture, paintings, maps, documents and institutions such as museums. We will focus on the ways in which narratives of London’s and Britain’s history and identity have developed in relation to continuous economic, political and cultural change.

We will see how history is never simply about a dead past, but is always about the identities we fashion and the stories we tell ourselves now — for example, in the light of recent events in Paris, or the Scottish independence referendum of 2014.

Our notions of heritage — both nationally and globally — depend upon these often highly distorting uses of the past for the present. A key focus will be how British, English and London heritage — both tangible and intangible — is produced and marketed to domestic and foreign visitors.

Which London, then? This becomes a crucial question. For centuries, London has been a center of rule, of wealth and privilege, but its inhabitants have also voiced their opposition to central government, to royal or parliamentary power. Londoners have been divided (and joined) by class, nationality and ethnicity, in a way that intersects with the rise and fall of empire.

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Collecting the World in London

Instructor: Andrew Kennedy
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Museum Studies course

Winter course syllabus (3-week course in January 2019)

London has dozens of museums, displaying a range of objects from mummies to fans, toys to tropical plants. This course looks at museums not simply as institutions of enlightenment, but as enactments of power — power over the past; over colonised or subjugated peoples; over life, death and disease; over nature. How have museums attempted to classify the world? In doing so, what is the price paid for taking things or living entities out of their original context? We examine questions of repatriation: should museums return objects and human remains in their collections? What is the need to display material artefacts in a digital age? Are there other ways of creating 'authentic' experiences?

NOTE ON SCHEDULING: Collecting the World in London is not offered as part of the 15-week (London first) program. However, the 18-week (London first) program offers the course in January as a 3-week intensive course. Students taking the London winter quarter/trimester option will also be able to take this course.

Students participating in either the 15- or 18-week (Florence first) program can take Collecting the World in London as one of their two elective options.

See the London & Florence program schedule for more information.

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Visiting Faculty Course

Writing in London

Instructor: Amy Weldon (Luther College), Visiting Faculty Director in Spring 2019
Elective course (Spring 2019), 4 semester credits

Course Syllabus

Writing in London will guide you through the literary palimpsest of the city and explore the words of writers like William Blake, John Keats, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and George Orwell and the way places associated with them have changed through time. By the end of the seven-week course, you’ll have practiced a writer’s common habit: carrying a notebook everywhere and using it to net raw material, scraps of dialogue, short scenes, even drawings. You’ll have visited an 18th-century operating room, Virginia Woolf’s country retreat, and the model for the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, and you’ll have “read” all those things through those writers’ words and stories, carried on the page and in your head. You’ll have witnessed and pondered the issues that concerned these writers and still concern us today: poverty, fair housing, inequality, gender discrimination, racial difference, and the role of government surveillance in a city with CCTV cameras on every corner. You’ll have talked through issues of structure, voice, language, and revision with your classmates and me. You’ll have learned new things in Professor Kennedy’s courses that develop your thinking — and thus your writing — even more. And you’ll have braided your city encounters together with your own memories and preoccupations to create a polished personal essay (in the genre called creative nonfiction) on a topic of your choice and publish it to our course website.

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Courses in Florence

Italian Language

Instructor: Linguaviva staff
Required course, 2 semester credits (for 15-week semester students) or 5 semester credits (for 10-week quarter/trimester and 18- week Florence-first semester students)

Instruction emphasizes spoken colloquial Italian so that students may quickly acquire conversational ability. Classes are taught in Italian at Linguaviva, an Italian language institute in Florence. Linguaviva has been honored with multiple Star Awards from Language Travel Magazine and has received the Excellence Award in numerous years from LanguageCourse S.L. Students who have previously studied Italian will be placed in language classes appropriate to their levels of proficiency. The Linguaviva instructors are not just language teachers but also rich sources of information about Italian culture, and they help students solve the daily problems which Italians and foreigners share.

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Elective Courses

Students choose two elective classes from those listed below. 

The Medici as Patrons of the Arts

Instructor: Josephine Rogers Mariotti, Program Director
Elective course, 3 semester credits

Course syllabus

The Medici family is arguably the single most important family in Florentine history, generation after generation, all active patrons of the arts during centuries in which the city experienced its greatest cultural and artistic flourishing. This course will trace the family’s history as art patrons during the course of the 15th and early 16th century, examining the relations between specific members of the dynasty and the art produced under their auspices. Beginning with the late 14th century, at the debut of the rise in wealth and power of the family, we will explore the history and profiles of various members of the family from Giovanni di Bicci, Cosimo the Elder, Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo il Magnifico to the Medici popes, Leo X and Clement VII; our studies will also include other Florentine families and patrons who share a common culture with the leading family.

On-site experience of the art they promoted will allow us to explore: how each patron relates to the artists employed; how the patron’s choice of artist reflects personal philosophy and persona; how patronage relates and contributes to contemporary culture and philosophy; how the art produced under their auspices fits within the cultural, political and social make-up of the city. We will also see the significant role the Medici played in the complex game of art and politics with regard to other centers in Italy, some of which we will have the opportunity to visit during the course of the term. Thus, this course will focus on the major personalities of the early branch of the Medici, concluding with the initial stages of the Cinquecento (1500's) and the early life of Michelangelo, one of the Medici’s most beloved artists.

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The Sight-Size Tradition: Drawing and Portraiture

Instructor: Staff of the Charles H. Cecil Studios
Elective course, 3 semester credits

Course syllabus

This Studio Art course will teach a historic technique for drawing from a live model, from casts of famous statues, and from the city itself. Live models will be used for full figure drawing and casts for portraiture. Classroom instruction will take place in the Charles H. Cecil Studios, the most historic Florentine atelier still in active use. At the end of the semester, there will be an exhibit of the student work and a final critique.

This course will be offered during the first half of the program. Students participating in the Florence-first semester or winter quarter/trimester will be able to take this course.

Note: The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

Due to the unique nature of the workshop environment, this course has a maximum capacity of 12 students. Early enrollment is recommended; preference for placement in the course will be based on date of enrollment and particular credit needs of students.

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An Introduction to Methods and Techniques of Restoration

Instructor: Rossella Lari, Art Conservator
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Course syllabus

Since the flood of 1966, Florence has become a world leader in the field of art conservation and restoration. The tragic event brought experts from around the world who joined together to save and restore the immense patrimony of art that had been destroyed, threatened, and damaged by the catastrophe.

This course gives students the opportunity to study with one of the most prominent art conservators of present-day Florence, Rossella Lari, during an intensive studio and on-site experience. The course entails 42 hours of class time, which includes laboratory work along with visits to the workshops of other restorers, intended to provide students with a panorama of the potential extension of the field. These include restoration workshops of musical instruments, frescoes, metal, gold, and wooden artifacts, as well as the Martelli gilding workshop where students try out that very ancient art form.

During lab sessions, following the criteria and principles of contemporary art restoration, students will learn and use the methods and techniques adopted in diagnosis and restoration as they work on actual paintings within the workshop of the instructor; this hands-on experience not only affords practical knowledge of the maintenance and restoration of paintings but also insight into the creative process of various art forms, past and present. The restorer Zeljka Gaspar will assist Rossella Lari during workshop sessions.

Students will be required to keep a restoration notebook which will serve in completing a final presentation that documents the technical and theoretical knowledge acquired during the course.

Note: There is an additional fee for liability insurance (approximately $100).

The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

Due to the unique nature of the workshop environment, this course has a maximum capacity of eight students. Early enrollment is recommended; preference for placement in the course will be based on date of enrollment and particular credit needs of students.

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Seat of the Muses: From the Origins of Art Collecting to Modern Museology in Florence

Instructor: Dott.ssa Alessandra Nardi
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Course syllabus coming soon

Museum Studies course

Museums are fascinating places that preserve, exhibit and interpret the natural and cultural heritage of humanity. The word "museum" has classical origins. In its Greek form, mouseion, it meant “seat of the Muses, the nine goddesses who preside over the arts and sciences” and designated a philosophical institution or place of contemplation. The role of museums in society has changed over centuries. In addition to preserving the world’s heritage, today museums play an increasing role in supporting the development of communities and fostering dialogue, curiosity, and self-reflection.

This course will introduce students to the history of museums and the field of museum studies. It will present some of the current and emerging issues that museums face in different areas such as management of the collections, museum education, and communication. Using the city of Florence as a case study, this course investigates the role of artists, collectors, art dealers, and philanthropists in the formation of the early public galleries. After discussing what a museum is today, we will explore the history of museums and collecting practices from the Renaissance curiosity cabinets to the present day. 

The second part of the course will focus on the contemporary museum, the evolution of its function, social change, and tourism. Particular attention will be given to the social, economic, political, and cultural contexts that determine museums and the main functions of museums — collection and care of objects, exhibits, interpretation, education, and governance.

In-class sessions will be alternated with on-site visits to various museums.

Based in Florence, one of the world’s most important museum centers, this course will enable students to approach museums from a series of critical perspectives and to gain an understanding of the challenges that museum professionals encounter.

Note: The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

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Credit Distribution & Grades

The course credit you receive for the London & Florence program is determined according to policies at your college. Check with your advisor and college registrar in advance to find out how much credit you will receive and how it will be distributed, especially if you plan to use your courses in London and Florence to fulfill college or departmental requirements.

Grade reports

All students who complete an ACM off-campus study program receive a grade report which lists their courses, credits, and grades. Most colleges accept this grade report as an official academic document. If a college requires an official academic transcript, ACM can arrange to have an official transcript issued through Beloit College for a $350 processing fee. To request an official transcript, students must make a formal request through ACM at the time of acceptance.