Italy and Greece tour: UQ students explore cradles of Western Civilisation

Aug 28, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media, News..

Monday, 28 August 2023: Students in the final years of Western Civilisation studies at the University of Queensland (UQ) travelled to Italy and Greece earlier this year, exploring various cities linked to the birth of Western civilisation, with particular focus on iconic works of art and historical sites.

Twenty-six students and three academic lecturers took part in various parts of the tour which included Rome, Florence, and Athens, as well as key sites in Sparta, Corinth, Messene, and Olympia.

The study tour was designed to complement and reinforce learnings that UQ Western Civilisation students have undertaken throughout their degree, relating to the classical world, Jewish and Christian works, icons of Western art and Western political thought.

In Rome, extending their study of legacies of both the classical past and Christianity, students explored religious and pagan aspects of Rome’s past, visiting sites such as the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Vatican City, the Capitoline Museums, as well as visiting the remains of Pompeii.

In Florence, the heart of the Renaissance, and home of Petrarch, Dante, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Machiavelli, students came face to face with iconic works of Western Civilisation.

They encountered works of art that re-presented sacred or classical stories with intensified colour, emotion and anatomical reality, paintings that pioneered linear perspective, and structures that scientifically re-engineered architecture. Their visits included Dante’s House Museum and churches.

The students also learnt more about the humanist political context in which Machiavelli wrote his political works through a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio where he worked for the Florentine republic and the Machiavelli Museum, housed in the villa where he spent his exile writing The Prince.

In Greece the students visited the birthplace of Western democracy, Athens, focusing on key sites and museums, before their bus journey to explore key sites in Sparta, Corinth, Messene, and Olympia.

Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Western Civilisation) (Honours) student Oscar O’Brien said “…coming face to face simultaneously with the ancient monuments, and the modern cities that owe much of their identity to their historical origin, was an invaluable opportunity to understand why it remains so important to remember where we came from as a continued culture and how it can help us to understand more where we are going.”

Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Western Civilisation) (Honours) student Oscar Adam Hazelwood said the trip enriched the experience of his degree in ways he couldn’t imagine.

“Elements of Western Civilisation which came up throughout my studies and which sometimes felt far away from me here in Australia suddenly felt much more real when I encountered them in person. Experiences such as seeing Machiavelli’s house and the sculpture ‘Laocoön and his sons’, as well as visiting ancient sites such as Mycenae and Pompeii deepened my interest in topics I had engaged with in courses such as ‘Western Political Thought’, ‘Icons of Western Art’ and ‘The Classical World’.

Bachelor of Humanities (Western Civilisation) / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student Angus Watson said seeing many of the artworks he had studied in his course ‘Icons of Western Art’ was a particular highlight.

“There is nothing like looking closely at the brushstrokes which make up each individual work or meeting the gaze of someone peering across centuries from canvas. Architecturally, the cities of Rome and Florence are truly magnificent, with the apartment blocks of the Renaissance broken up by intact Roman marvels and the littered columns of a dead empire,” he said.

For more information on studying Western Civilisation at UQ visit: