A PIONEERING scheme from the University of Reading will allow students to step into Ancient Rome and explore the city as it looked 1,700 years ago.

The unique virtual reality experience will be available as part of a free online course from Monday (March 13) and features historically accurate models of the Eternal City's famous landmarks, including The Colosseum and Pantheon.

A five-week course and the first of its kind entitled 'Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City' will be launched next week via FutureLearn.

Dr Matthew Nicholls, lecturer in the university’s Classics department, will lead the virtual tour around Ancient Rome from 315AD.

He said: "We are offering an immersive and unique virtual tour of the Eternal City without even leaving your living room and everyone is invited.

"The course encourages students to explore the answers to questions about Roman life amid the buildings that provided a spectacular backdrop to a dramatic and rich period in history.

"Our stunning digital model blends history with modern-day footage of the architecture you might encounter on a holiday there, bringing the city to life as never before."

The award-winning 3D digital recreation of the ancient city features 360-degree panoramic images and animations, allowing users to drop in and explore specific parts of Rome.

Students will become familiar with the architecture and history of the city, while learning how to interpret the archaeological ruins scattered throughout the map.

Nigel Smith, FutureLearn’s head of content, added: “It’s very exciting to see the opportunities that online learning continues to offer, attracting more and more learners into the educational sphere.

“We’re delighted that our partner, the University of Reading, is encouraging learners to engage with history and that they will be able to immerse themselves in a very real way, thanks to the benefits of learning technologies.”

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