Study Abroad in Florence, Italy

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Study Abroad in Florence: Courses

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Courses are subject to change at the discretion of Richmond University. Course codes that begin with a “3” are typically equivalent to 100-level courses, those that begin with a “4” to 200-level courses and those beginning with a “5” to 300-level.

Traditional Academic and Fashion Management and Marketing Programs

Courses run Monday through Thursday and mandatory course related field trips are held on Friday.

Italian Language Courses (Taught in Italian)

Students must take an online entrance test in order to register for any level higher than Elementary Italian I. Students will receive a login and password by email at the end of registration week. Since language requirements are strict, students are often placed in a level lower than requested. Students should gain pre-approval from their home institution for several levels of Italian in order to ensure that they receive credit for the level that they place into following the placement test. Please note that not all courses listed will run, in order for a course to be offered there must be enough interest generated from the preliminary course forms.

Italian language is mandatory. At the elementary level students can opt to take a 3 or 6-credit course.

ITL 4805 (6) | Elementary Italian Language and Culture (Intensive)

Course description will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

ITL 3831 (3) | Elementary Italian I

A thorough, basic introduction to the Italian language for those with little or no previous experience, the course teaches essential vocabulary and grammar and develops students’ ability to communicate in an authentic linguistic context – key to making the most of the experience of their stay in Italy.

ITL 3832 (3) | Elementary Italian II

Designed for students who already have some knowledge of Italian, the course revises basic grammar and vocabulary before progressing to more complex structures and functions leading up to the next, Intermediate, level. Classes are conducted mainly in Italian, with ample opportunity for student oral practice. Prerequisites: ITL 3831 Elementary Italian I, and/or min. 70/100 score on the diagnostic test.

ITL 4831 (3) | Intermediate Italian I

This course helps students to develop their ability to communicate effectively and accurately, using an expanded range of vocabulary. Conversation practice improves listening and interpretation skills for better understanding and response. Reading and writing exercises improve skills in understanding prose and writing letters and simple messages. Prerequisites: ITL 3832, Elementary Italian II, and/or min. 70/100 score on the diagnostic test.

ITL 4832 (3) | Intermediate Italian II

This course builds upon the skills gained in Intermediate Italian I and develops them to enable students to understand and respond to quite complex lines of argument, both in oral and in written form. Students review complex grammar structures and carry out tasks in reading, composition, phonetics, syntax, and style. Continued practice in conversation provides students with an increased capability to communicate competently in Italian. Prerequisites: ITL 4831, Intermediate Italian I, and/or min. 70/100 score on the diagnostic test.

ITL 5830 (3) | Advanced Italian

This courses introduces students to advanced structures and vocabulary, which will enable them to interact with the Italian world at a sophisticated level. It enables them to understand lectures and complex lines of argument, including various attitudes and viewpoints, both in oral and in written form. They should become fluent and spontaneous in verbal interaction, and well able to present and sustain an argument, both orally and in evidenced-based writing. Prerequisites: Four/five semesters of Italian and/or a pass at ITL 4832 level and/or score 70/100 on the diagnostic test.

Content Courses (Taught in English)

Courses marked with an asterisk are mandatory for students on the Fashion Management and Marketing Program (Spring only). New courses have been added for which course codes have not been finalized.

A minimum of 10 students is required to run a course.

AVC 4800 (1) | Introduction to Italian Art

This course examines developments in early Italian painting and sculpture leading up to the Renaissance and Baroque. It is normally taught during field study visits, which include Lucca, Pisa, Venice, and Rome. A field project paper is normally required.

AVC 5815 (3) fall only | Central Italian Early Renaissance Art

This course examines the Early Renaissance visual arts and architecture of Central Italy. Students focus on the Quattrocento (15th century) in Florence, and in particular on the role of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Medici and central personality in the golden age of Florentine art and culture. The course normally makes extensive use of the city of Florence as a learning resource. Prerequisites: AVC 4200 Introduction to Art Across Cultures or AVC 4205 Introduction to Visual Culture or HST 3200 World Cultural History or GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

AVC 5820 (3)  | Italian Renaissance Architecture

This course explores the principle architects, monuments and themes of fifteenth and sixteenth century Italian Renaissance architecture. The main emphasis is on Renaissance architecture in Florence but includes reference to architectural developments in Rome, Urbino and Mantua. In addition to visits to key Renaissance buildings and urban spaces in Florence, the course normally includes a field trip outside Florence. Prerequisites: AVC 4200 Introduction to Art Across Cultures or AVC 4205 Introduction to Visual Culture or HST 3200 World Cultural History or GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

AVC 5825 (3) spring only | Masters of the Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo’s work is approached as a lens through which aspects of science, anatomy and the human body, portraiture, perspective and religious painting in the 15th and early 16th centuries, can be critically examined. Normally taught in and around Florence it includes a day trip to Vinci (Leonardo’s birthplace) and to Milan to view the Last Supper. Course-related field trips are normally held on Fridays. Prerequisites: AVC 4200 Introduction to Art Across Cultures or AVC 4205 Introduction to Visual Culture or HST 3200 World Cultural History or GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

AVC 5835 (3)* | History of Italian Fashion

This course covers the history of Italian fashion from the late gothic period to current Made in Italy design. It looks at Italian fashion styles in relation to art history in an international, social and economic context. Fashion and its relation to culture, subculture, gender and communication are emphasized. On-site visits illustrate Florence’s dominant role in fashion. Prerequisites: AVC 4200 Introduction to Art Across Cultures or AVC 4205 Introduction to Visual Culture or HST 3200 World Cultural History or GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2. 

AVC 5855 (3)  | Museums and Galleries of Florence: The Cultures of Display

Considers the nature of museums and art galleries and their role and function in our society and culture. Students study the workings of the art market and a variety of other topics that impinge upon it, such as conservation, restoration, the investment potential of art, and art world crime. Students visit many of the great galleries and museums in Florence with their rich intercultural collections as part of this course. A university-level survey of the history of international art is strongly recommended as a prerequisite. Prerequisites: ARW 4195 – Principles of Academic Research.

AVC 5860 (3) spring only | Florentine Art in Context

This course examines the concepts underlying Italy’s Renaissance art and architecture in their art historical context, including the visual representation of space in painting, sculpture and portraiture, harmony and space in architecture, disguised symbolism in Christian art and the language of allegories. The course normally includes weekly visits to museums, galleries, and exhibitions, with their rich intercultural collections, enabling students to engage directly with the original art works and consider their display. Prerequisites: HST 3200 World Cultural History or GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2. 

COM 4800 (3)* | Fashion and Media From Past to Present

This course aims to shed light on past and current changes in fashion communication examining a variety of textual platforms in different times. The evolution of fashion magazines and the exploration of the image of fashion in painting, photography, music, film and art are studied in relation to key social and cultural issues. The role of new digital technologies in the fashion media landscape and their impact on production and consumption is explored.

COM 5810 (3)  | Italian Cinema and Society

Students study key works of Italian cinema within the context of world cinema to assess realism as an aesthetic convention as well as gain insights into contemporary trends in Italian culture. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

COM 5850 (3) spring only | Gender and Sexuality in Italian Opera

Through an interdisciplinary approach, which brings together both music and gender studies, students are given the opportunity to consider gender identity in Italian opera and how gender roles and voices have changed over time. No prior musical background or historical knowledge of music is required. Live operatic performances are included. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

COM 5855 (3) spring only | News and the Media in Italy

In this course students explore the most important characteristics of Italian journalism and the Italian media system. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own research and practical writing skills while examining different aspects of the Italian media. Students may be able to publish articles in an Italian newspaper. Prerequisites: COM 3100 or JRN 4200.

COM 5860 (3)  | Made in Italy: The Symbols of Italian Identity from Espresso to Ferrari 

This course explores the history and practices of consumption in Italy, and the production of goods and services that have been encoded as "Italian" outside the country itself. The course looks at the transition to a consumer society, and investigates areas such as advertising, fashion, industrial design, food culture and sport. The course includes on-site visits and field trips to major Italian companies. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

ECN 5805 (3) fall only | International Economic Relations

This course introduces students to international economic relations. These relations are relations of international trade, international production and finance as well as international development. The course is taught within the context of technology, politics and culture. Prerequisites: ECN 3200 Foundations of Economics or ECN 4105 Introduction to Microeconomics.

ENT 5805 (3) spring only | Italian Family Business 

Family business and entrepreneurship will be placed into a national context and the importance of family businesses for the Italian economy will be identified. Prerequisites: MGT 3200 or MGT 4200 or ECN 4105 or ENT 4200.

HST 5810 (3) | History of Florence 

This course covers the history of Florence, concentrating on its development as a city and a state before and during the Renaissance and the Early Modern period. The uniqueness of Florence is underlined by drawing comparisons with other cities in Italy and Europe. Some lessons take place on-site so that students experience this city’s past first-hand. Prerequisites: HST 3200 World Cultural History or GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2. 

HST 5820 (3) | History of the Italian Mafia 

This course explores the history of the Italian Mafia from the national unification of Italy until the present day. Topics studied include relationships within the organization, those between the Mafia and Italian Politics, and those between the Italian and the American Mafia. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

HST 5825 (3) | Italian Food and Culture

This course examines the geography, history and culture of Italian regional dishes that have brought Italy worldwide renown. The course looks at regional gastronomic traditions and their origins, including differences in how food is prepared, the representation of Italian food practices in media and cinema, food symbolism in Italian culture, food ethics and sustainable agriculture, with an examination of today’s fast and slow food traditions. A visit to a wine and olive oil farm in Tuscany will give a practical illustration of how resources are linked to food practices.

HST 5830 (3) fall only | Medieval and Early Renaissance Italy

Presents an introduction to the political, social and cultural history of Italy from the Early Middle Ages to the end of the 16th century. Its aim is to provide students with an understanding of the forces and processes that shaped the states and the societies of the Italian peninsula in an era of extraordinary changes. Particular attention will be devoted to Florence, especially from the 13th century onward, as a social, political and economic case study of Medieval and Renaissance Italy.

INB 6810 (3) spring only | European Business Environment

Focuses on the economic, political and social environment for business in Europe within this field, it examines the institutional interplay with the European Union, the dynamics between the different Member States and the different policies with direct relevance to businesses operating in the European Union. Prerequisites: MGT 4200, MTH 4110, and ECN 4110.

INR 5800 (3)  | Globalization: A European Perspective

This interdisciplinary course addresses the important and complex phenomenon of contemporary globalization. The political, social, economic and cultural aspects are addressed from a specifically European perspective. Core themes of globalization debates, such as convergence, nationalism and inequalities as well as a range of global actors, agents and institutions are critically engaged with. Prerequisites: INR 4100 or INR 4105 or DEV 4100 or ECN 4115 or ECN 4110 or PLT 3100 or PLT 3105 or SCL 3100.

ISL 5800 (3) | Service Learning and Active Citizenship

The Service Learning and Active Citizenship course is a student community placement that aims to provide students from all disciplines and majors with the intellectual, professional and personal skills that will build up their understanding of the political and social context of their work and enable them to function well in a culturally diverse community in Florence. In addition to the weeks of field work (typically 9-12 depending on the organization), the student will also produce a written journal of their experiences which provides critical reflection, a "community action" portfolio (analytical essay) and a final oral presentation. 

Students who take the Service Learning course and complete community service work will receive a certificate acknowledging the value of their contribution rendered to the city of Florence.

LIT 5800 (3) fall only | Italian Literature in Translation

This course explores the works of the great Italian authors of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and their influences on the fictional prose of contemporary Italian literature. Readings in translation include Dante, Petrach, Boccaccio, Machiavelli and Eco. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2. 

LIT 5805 (3) spring only  | Real and Imagined Journeys: Italy, Epic and the Self 

This course explores the concept of the journey in its archetypal, metaphysical and aesthetic dimensions, reflecting on the subtle interplay of reality and imagination. The perception of "otherness" through invented geography, fantastic animals, monstrous races or religious difference mingles with the spirit of adventure, the desire to cross borders, and to conquer the unknown in a fascinating search for the self. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2. 

LIT 5810 (3) spring only | Dante in Translation

This course explores The Divine Comedy and other major works of Dante Alighieri. It examines the poet’s philosophy, his development of the medieval concept of love, his use of the Italian language and the role he gives to Florence in The Divine Comedy. Students will approach Dante’s work from a literary, historical and linguistic perspective. 

MGT 5810 (3) spring only | Human Resource Management

This course combines elements of different disciplines ranging from industrial relations, social psychology, personnel management, motivation, recruitment and selection, leadership, communication, manpower planning, aspects of training and development and related processes. It is appropriate for students seeking to follow a career in Human Resource Management or in other areas of functional management. Prerequisites: MGT 5400. 

MKT 5805 (3)* | Fashion Marketing and Retail

This course covers the fundamentals of fashion and the basic principles that govern all fashion movement and change. It examines the history, development, organization and operation of merchandising and marketing activities, trends in industries engaged in producing fashion, purchasing of fashion merchandise, foreign and domestic markets and the distribution and promotion of fashion. Prerequisites: MKT 5200 - Principles of Marketing.

MKT 5810 (3)* | Psychology of Fashion and Luxury Goods

Consumer psychology within the context of the consumption of fashion and luxury products and services is complex and is influenced by many factors. This course enables students to understand the importance of consumer behavior in the process of marketing fashion and luxury goods and services. Note: This course is cross-referenced against MKT 5410 (offered on the Richmond campus). Prerequisites: MGT 3200.

MKT 5820 (3) | Wine Marketing 

Focuses on the importance of wine as a tool to understand and approach cultural diversity, in a more globalized world. Wine will be studied as a global as well as a “local”, and “glocal” product.

Students will analyze wine marketing and its environment, market segmentation and consumer behavior, product strategy (in particular branding, packaging and design), marketing communication strategy, and the ways that the Internet and Social Media can be used as marketing tools in the promotion of wine. The role of cellars and wine tourism will also be analyzed as a tool of promotion and reinforcement of brand identity.

PHL 5815 (3) fall only | Modern European Mind

This course examines the development of the European philosophical tradition from the Pre-Modern period, through the Modern Period, and considers some Contemporary philosophical trends. Students will study original texts from thinkers as diverse as Thomas a Kempis, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Barthes, Foucault and Butler. Prerequisites: ARW 4195 – Principles of Academic Research. 

PSY 4800 (3) | Cross Cultural Psychology 

Examines a selection of theoretical, empirical and applied issues in the cross-cultural study of human social behavior with a focus on Italy and Italians.

Aspects of cross-cultural analysis from the field of cross-cultural psychology (as well as interdisciplinary elements from sociology, anthropology, biology and ecology) will be discussed, including: cultural influence on human behavior, attitudes, values, communication and societal organization. Special topics of ethnocentrism, individualistic vs. collectivistic societies, plural societies, cultural views on mental health, and intercultural communication are highlighted. Methodological issues of cross-cultural research will be reviewed, and students will have the opportunity to conduct a cross-cultural interview and be participant-observers of their own study abroad experience in Italy. Italy and its inhabitants become the classroom through various excursions and field work. Participants are encouraged to reflect on their own cultural origins in regards to behaviors, communication, attitudes and values, as well as their acculturation experiences while studying in Italy.

RLG 5810 (3) spring only  | Comparative World Religions

This course explores the monotheistic religions of the Near East (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), those of India and the Far East (Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism) and the "new-age" faiths. The history and practice of each is studied. Special emphasis is laid on the philosophical and psychological basis of each religion and common themes such as the self, suffering, free will and ethics. Prerequisites: ARW 4195 – Principles of Academic Research.

SCL 5810 (3) spring only | Women in Italian Society

This course explores the social factors influencing Italian women’s lives, perspectives and desires, the historical process through which they have reached their present position, and their current condition in relation to the economic, social, geographical and political environment of Italy. Representations of women in the Italian media, advertising and fashion as factors affecting their social identity are also considered. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

SCL 5820 (3)  | Sociology of Italian Soccer

An examination of the role of soccer in Italian society provides unique opportunities to investigate the complexities of contemporary Italian culture and social life. The course examines historical and philosophical meanings associated with the sport, as well as the role of soccer within Italian culture, politics, social conflict and social change. Field trips to matches at the local soccer stadium are an essential part of the course. Prerequisites: GEP 4180 Research and Writing 2.

SCL 5830 (3) | Magic, Religion and Witchcraft

Focuses on sociological and anthropological perspectives on religious practice and experience. Classical theorists Marx, Weber and Durkheim will be examined. Notions of magic, witchcraft and the supernatural will be addressed in relation to myth and symbolism. "New Age" spirituality will be analyzed in relation to Altered States of Consciousness and Counterculture and alternative versions of faith.Prerequisites: SCL 3100 or COM 3100.

Studio Art

Courses require 15 hours per academic credit for a total of 45 hours plus 30 hours of guided independent work. Students purchase their own materials; in some cases, there may be a studio fee. All studio art courses require a minimum of 10 students. Students should budget approximately 70 euros for supplies.

Final grades and evaluations are based on student progress, technical ability, attitude and adherence of the final product to the material as well as projects given in class. Students enrolling for Intermediate or Advanced courses must supply evidence of previous study at college level. Students should bring slides of their work to show the instructor. Painting courses use only water-based paints.

ADM 3800 (3) spring only | Drawing I

This course introduces students to figure drawing, structure and object drawing, and outdoor drawing which includes the city of Florence/Rome and the Tuscan/surrounding landscape. The course is designed to provide a foundation in the subject, and will also prepare students for the next course in the sequence. A studio fee is levied on this course.

ADM 3855 (3) | Painting in Florence I

This course teaches students how to produce the illusion of volume, space and movement on a two-dimensional surface. Students explore hands-on approaches to paint application, color, structure and composition, and experiment with different ways of applying the paint. They learn to imitate the techniques of painters such as Caravaggio, Monet, Seurat, Van Gogh and Picasso. This course includes classroom assignments and painting out of doors in places such as the Boboli gardens and the hills around Florence. The course is designed to provide a foundation in the subject, and also prepares students for the next course in the sequence. A studio fee is levied for this course.

ADM 3860 (3) | Travel Photography

Concentrates on developing the student’s visual intelligence via travel and reportage photography. Key features include learning to express a sense of place, capturing atmosphere, and photographing a variety of subjects ranging from daily life, landscapes and urban settings to cultural portraits, festivals and rituals.

Students learn about the history, compositional issues and techniques of photojournalism, architectural and reportage photography by studying the work of relevant influential photographers and by conceiving, shooting and laying out a series of travel photography projects. This course is recommended for those majoring in communications, journalism, environmental studies and tourism.

Required: A digital single lens photographic camera (DSLR): 10,0 megapixels minimum with an optical zoom lens at least 3X.

A lab fee is levied on this course.

ADM 4800 (3) spring only | Drawing II 

This course includes figure drawing, still-life drawing and landscape drawing, with the focus on Florence and the Tuscan landscape. Students are encouraged to examine the problems of drawing the human figure (anatomy), perspective (several vanishing points) and objects (complexity, varied tonality). It follows on from ADM 3800 Drawing I. A studio fee is levied on this course. Prerequisites: ADM 3800 Drawing I.

ADM 4855 (3) | Painting in Florence II

In this course, particular problems associated with tone and light are studied, including side lighting, candle lighting and artificial lighting. Studio practice is combined with discussion, critique and demonstration. The course includes open air painting and work in the studio. It follows on from ADM 3855 Painting in Florence I and builds on the principles established in that course. A studio fee is levied on this course. Prerequisites: ADM 3855 Painting in Florence I.

ADM 5800 (3) spring only | Drawing III 

This is an advanced drawing course, further developing students’ drawing skills. It focuses on figure drawing, still-life drawing and landscape drawing, with particular attention to Florence and the Tuscan landscape. Students are encouraged to further develop their personal style of composing and choosing types of lines and mark-making. This course follows on from and builds upon ADM 4800 Drawing II. A studio fee is levied on this course. Prerequisites: ADM 4800 Drawing II. 

ADM 5855 (3)  | Painting in Florence III 

This is an advanced painting course, structured around specific painting projects to develop the range and technical competence of the student. Professional painting techniques are demonstrated and experimented with. This course includes outdoor painting and work in the studio. This course builds upon ADM 4855 Painting in Florence II. A studio fee is levied on this course. Prerequisites: ADM 4855 Painting in Florence II. 

ADM 5870 (3)  | Sketchbook of Florence 

The course is divided between working in the studio and on location in Florence. The sketchbook is an essential aspect of the course in helping students to document the city, stimulate and develop ideas and as a reminder that drawing is a portable medium. A studio fee is levied on this course. Prerequisites: ADM 3800 Drawing, an introductory drawing class. 

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Italy programs!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Italy, Florence programs!