About Our MOOC

Students recording video footage on site at Portus
Students recording video footage on site at Portus

The University of Southampton and FutureLearn are running a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), focusing on the archaeological work in progress at the Roman site of Portus. It is one of a number of Southampton-based courses that will be made available for you to study online, for free, wherever they are based in the world, in partnership with FutureLearn. Registration is open now.

The Roman harbour city of Portus lay at the heart of an empire that extended from Scotland to Iraq. Established by Claudius and enlarged by the emperor Trajan with spoils of the Dacian wars, the port was the conduit for everything the city of Rome required from its Mediterranean provinces: the food and, particularly grain, that fed the largest urban population of the ancient world, as well as luxuries of all kinds, building materials, people and wild animals for the arena. On the course you will chart a journey from the Imperial harbour to its connections across the Mediterranean, learning about what the archaeological discoveries uncovered by the Portus Project tell us about the history, landscape, buildings, and the people of this unique place. Although the site lies in ruins, it has some of the best-preserved Roman port buildings in the Mediterranean, and in this course you will learn to interpret these and the finds discovered within them, using primary research data and the virtual tools of the archaeologist.

Largely filmed on location at Portus, the course will provide you with an insight into the wide range of digital technologies employed to record, analyse and present the site. The final week of the MOOC will coincide with fieldwork at Portus so you will be able to see and interact with the excavation.

In addition to the lead educators, our enthusiastic team of student archaeologists will support your learning. You can watch a video recorded on site in summer 2013 made by two University of Southampton Social Sciences undergraduates who worked at Portus as part of the Curriculum Innovation Portus Module, alongside archaeology students from Southampton, Rome and Stanford. They will act as some of the ‘student guides’ on the new online course.

We hope that this exciting opportunity will appeal as a taster for people considering more formal educational programmes in this area, or to anyone with a particular interest in Roman history, archaeological methods, and the site of Portus. So, we would like students who are fascinated by archaeology and history and those with an interest in technologies such as digital photography. No previous knowledge is required or assumed.

A video made by students who participated in the Portus Field School in 2013, featuring a Southampton archaeology undergraduate interviewing a Stanford classics undergraduate about a latrine, of all things.

You can read more on the Portus Project website