In the future, Benedictus plans to offer...

... a One Year Foundation Programme in European Culture and Thought

London, Italy, London

The first term of the Foundation Programme will be based in our central London study centre, as will the third term.

For the second term, Benedictus will travel to Italy where our studies both in and out of the classroom will continue. The teaching staff will be augmented by local experts for the classical and art history sites and for Italian and Latin language classes.


Our study spaces in Rome will be at the headquarters of the British Council, located in a beautifully renovated building near the Spanish Steps. Mornings are reserved for classroom study and afternoons devoted to visiting the major sites to study the art, architecture and history of the city. One of the themes of the five-week course will be to look at the major architectural developments in the city that were put in place by the popes from 1300 onwards to attract pilgrims from all over Europe.

Students will be accommodated as a group at a small, family-run residence near the Piazza Navona.


After Rome, we go for a week's relaxation at Palazzola, the villa residence of the English College, located on the shores of beautiful lake Albano in the hills south of Rome. We will use Palazzola as a base for visiting historically significant sites further afield such as Subiaco and Pompeii.


We then move to Florence where we will be hosted at the British Institute, established in the city as a library and cultural centre for over a hundred years. Special history of art and Italian language courses have been created for us. We will also have the use of library and study facilities to continue our curriculum. As in Rome, afternoons and day trips will cover the historical sites, churches, villas and gardens. Our study focuses quite naturally on the Florentine Renaissance in art, culture and patronage.


Our term in Italy is completed by an optional week in Palermo, Sicily, where we will look at many magnificent churches and palaces as well as some of the nearby Greek temples.

The academic team at Benedictus has created a course that offers students the chance to experience a truly formative year of study: a specially written, integrated programme designed as both a stand-alone introduction to the liberal arts and the first year of what will eventually become a fully accredited three year BA.

This will be a profound and wide-ranging alternative for the year between school and university, exploring the origins and nature of Western civilisation by offering a curriculum covering philosophy, theology, logic, grammar and rhetoric, geometry, history, literature and languages (Latin and Italian) and the history of art and music.

Our small seminar group setting, with discussion and debate on key original texts and works of art, is the centre of our learning experience. This forms a community of learning in which students develop intellectual confidence that they can take with them into university life. To build upon classroom-based learning, each day students will be out of the college visiting art galleries, museums and going to concerts to engage with art and to learn directly from it.

Students will be assessed by written work, oral presentations and end-of-year examination. Each week they will be set an assessed essay or asked to make a presentation; these will be discussed in tutorial and marked by faculty. There will be termly reports by staff and self-assessment exercises undertaken to monitor the progress of each student.

The Foundation Programme provides a chance to experience liberal arts education without a long-term course commitment. It will open the mind to a broad and deep foundation of knowledge before specialising at university; this will be uniquely valuable as an underpinning to any further study.

Curriculum for the Foundation Programme

The Foundations of European Culture and Thought

All the modules below are studied concurrently except Modules 4 and 5 which will be studied exclusively in Italy.

The Eloquentia Perfecta weekly 2:1 tutorial will run throughout the year.

Eloquentia Perfecta is the tutorial session for Benedictus students. It bears the traditional name given to a course of study that leads the students to eloquence and proficiency in oral and written presentations and was a key component of the highly influential Jesuit liberal arts curriculum from the 16th century onwards. It has been recently revived as a central part of the core curriculum of liberal arts courses at some Jesuit universities in the United States.

Module 1: Philosophy Studies

Introduction to Plato
Introduction to Logic

Module 2: Language Studies

Introduction to Latin
Introduction to Italian

Module 3: Origins of Western Civilisation

The Ancient Mediterranean and Near East
Egypt, Greece and Rome
The Liberal Arts - Ancient Academy to Modern University
Reflections and Receptions in Art

Module 4: Art, History and Culture in Rome

Classical and Early Christian Rome
Renaissance and High Renaissance Rome
The Early Modern Church

Module 5: Art, History and Culture in Florence

The Patronage and Power of the Medici
Florentine Villas and Gardens
Florentine Literary Studies - Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Alberti

Module 6: Principles of Christian Theology and Thought

Foundations of Christian Theology
The Ancient World - Thought, Religion and their Transmissions

Module 7: Classic Literature Studies

An introduction to studying and reading from primary texts -
Dante, Augustine, New Testament

Curriculum details are subject to possible change.


We have plans to expand the course in the future...

The second and third academic years of the BA course will be based in central London and will build on the Foundation Programme of the first year, exploring the great artistic, philosophical and historical movements of European culture, continuing language classes at a higher level and developing students' written and spoken skills.

Throughout the course, students will be assessed by written work, oral presentations and end-of-year examination. Each week they will be set an assessed essay or asked to make a presentation; these will be discussed in tutorial and marked by faculty. There will be termly reports by staff and self-assessment exercises undertaken to monitor the progress of each student.

In the third year, the course will culminate in a research project and the final term of the course will be devoted to writing up this dissertation.

Curriculum Year 2: Transformations in European Culture & Thought

All the modules below are studied concurrently.

Module 1: Philosophy and Theology

Aristotle, Augustine City of God and Scholastic Thought: Benedict, Suger, Aquinas
Reformation Ideas - Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, More
Foundations of Rationalism and Modern Science
Catholic Apologetics - Newman and his contexts

Module 2: Language Studies

Latin Intermediate
Italian Intermediate

Module 3: Literary Studies

Reading Ancient and Medieval prose - Homer and Chaucer
Reading Early Modern Texts - Shakespeare and Milton
Origins and Rise of the Novel

Module 4: Historical Studies

The Making of Medieval Europe
Renaissance and Reformation
Classical Historians and Histories - Enlightenment to Romantics
Revolutions - America and France

Module 5: The Arts

Art and the Classical Tradition - Reinventing the Past
The Medieval Cathedral - Architecture, Art, Music, Liturgy
Music - Renaissance from Josquin to Byrd and Gibbons
The Gothic Revival - Pugin, Ruskin and their Contexts

The Eloquentia Perfecta weekly tutorial will continue as in the first year.

Year 3: Traditions and Modernities in European Culture & Thought

In Year 3, all students complete a research project which may be of differing credit values: students electing to write a longer dissertation will need to take correspondingly fewer modules to make up the correct number of credits for the year. Each module will include a supporting lecture series that all students will be required to attend.

All the modules below are studied concurrently.

Module 1: Philosophy and Theology

Aristotle's Metaphysics - Early Interpretations and Modern Perspectives
Religion, Church and Crisis - Contemporary Debates and Current Issues
Lectures: Modern Ideas in Philosophy

Module 2: Language Studies

Further Latin
Further Italian

Module 3: Literary Studies

English Poetry Studies - Lyrical Ballads to Four Quartets
The Literature of Ideas in the 19th-20th Centuries
Lectures: Modernity and Post-Modernity - Explorations in Literature from Baudelaire to Contemporary Writing

Module 4: Historical Studies

Making the Modern World - Empires, Nations, Nationalisms, Globalisation
Lectures: Interpreting History - From Marx to Modern Historians

Module 5: The Arts

Beyond the Grand Tour - Artists and the Wider World
'Gesamtkunstwerk' - Music and Art
Lectures: Artists, Identities, Celebrity - Modern Artists and the Arts in the Modern World

Module 6: Research Project

The weekly tutorial will continue throughout terms 1-2 in which students can discuss their research projects with tutors.

Curriculum details are subject to possible change.

Could this be the course for you?

At the moment, we have no firm start date for this course, but if you would be interested in studying with us, feel free to get in touch.