Made in Italy: Evening courses in Italian culture

Made in Italy is a series of evening courses offering a uniquely comprehensive approach to learning the culture and history of Italy.

Our range of courses attracts adult learners who wish to explore Italy's cultural heritage and contemporary culture through art, texts, literature and films. Joining our evening courses gives you access to the world-renowned Italian centre at UCL. Experts in the field will adapt and share their research to make your learning experience profound and enjoyable at the same time. 

Staff & Contact

Modules will be taught by experts in their field and you will have access to a wealth of knowledge, experience and research. For further information please write to the convenor,  Dr Marta Niccolai


One 2 hour session a week delivered over 5 weeks (10 hours in total) or 10 weeks (20 hours in total).

Medieval Renaissance modules

Introduction to Renaissance studies (taught by Andrew Campbell)
The course provides an introduction to key strands of early modern thought by looking at three fundamental figures of the Italian Renaissance: the debate between religion and astronomy with the controversial figure of Galileo Galilei, the question of etiquette and morality through The Book of the Courtier by Baldassarre di Castiglione, and great leaders, laws and arms discussed by Niccolò Machiavelli in his famous The Prince. 

Magicians and Philosophers in the Renaissance (taught by Dr Tiziana Provvidera)
This unique module explores the notion of ‘magic’ within some fundamental philosophical and historical issues relevant during the Renaissance. The notion of Magic, the practice of prophecy and divination and its condemnation by the Church, will be discussed through the works of Marsilio Ficino, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella and Pico della Mirandola.

Living at the birth of the Renaissance, between 1350 and 1650 (taught by Dr Alexandra Lee)
The Renaissance is traditionally considered to be a moment of rebirth, but what was the experience of those living through the period? This unique module will examine different perspectives on the Renaissance, using literature and historical sources to build up a picture of the transition from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance. We will explore the lives of those involved in printing, practising religion in confraternities and convents, dealing with healthcare in hospitals and during epidemics, and debating what the Italian language should look like in the Questione della Lingua.

Contemporary Italy modules

From Cabiria to the Present: Key Moments in Italian Cinema (taught by Dr Cristina MassaccesiDr Lucia Rinaldi and Dr Marta Niccolai)

This module will examine key moments and trends in Italian cinema from the early 20th century to the present day. The course will cover silent cinema, Neorealism, political films, comedies and noir. It will look at the work of internationally famed directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Ettore Scola, Pietro Germi, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Paolo Sorrentino.

Assessment and certification

There is no formal assessment of these modules. Outcomes are based on students’ own ability and progression. A certificate of attendance is issued with 70% attendance of a course.

If you have no formal qualification in the subject of Medieval and Renaissance studies but you have a strong interest and have pursued the subject independently, attendance to two or more Made in Italy courses on Medieval and Renaissance studies will allow you to apply for an MA in Medieval Renaissance Studies.

  • Be part of an elite group of students being taught by some of the top experts in the field in one of the highest rated educational institutions in the world.
  • Meet like-minded people for lively lessons furthering your knowledge of Italian culture, history and customs.
  • Become part of the famed UCL Italian to enjoy access to many other seminars and events, including our Italian Film Club.
  • Add to your business/networking skills a higher level of Italian cultural awareness. Students with an attendance of 70% plus will be given a certificate of attendance.
  • If you are interested in further education, build credits to enrol on the MA in Medieval Renaissance Studies.
  • Enhance your Italian holiday or business trip experiences with in-depth historical knowledge. Tap into the vast knowledge of your tutors, always at hand to answer your queries.
  • Enlarge your Italian horizons in stimulating courses, impeccably taught.
Dates, Times, Locations

All classes take place between 6 and 8 pm and are located in Foster Court.

Term 1: Introduction to Renaissance studies
Day: Wednesdays from 6m to 8pm
Duration: 10 weeks, from 3rd of October 2018 to 12th of December 2018
Room: TBC
College Reading Week: starts November 5th (no classes)

Term 2: Magicians and Philosophers in the Renaissance
Day: Mondays from 6pm to 8pm
Duration: 10 weeks, from 7th of January  2019 to 18th of March 2019
Room: TBC

Term 3: Living at the birth of the Renaissance, between 1350 and 1650
Day: Wednesdays from 6pm to 8pm
Duration: 10 weeks, from 24th of April 2019 to 26th of June 2019
Room: TBC

Enrolment and Payment

No formal entry qualification but a curiosity of Italy and its culture is required. Basic knowledge of Italian can be beneficial but not essential, should some handouts be in the original language.

Module fee: £350
Senior fee: £250
UCL staff: £300
Students: £200

Payment can be made online via UCL Online store (search by module name) or by cheque. Please make cheques payable to ‘University College London’ and send to:
Made In Italy course
School of European Languages, Culture & Society (SELCS)
131 Foster Court
University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Artemisia in Fiction and Fact (9th-13th November 2020)


Please note: Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this course will be delivered online via Zoom. Sessions will be held from 6.30 to 8.00pm over five days from 9 to 13 November 2020. Please email the tutor to register for a place, and you will be sent secure links to the lectures on the appointed days.

The course examines the life, art and afterlives of the baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 - 1653), the first woman to gain admission to the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence.

By analysing three novels and a film inspired by her life and work, you'll explore the reasons for the fascination this painter has exercised at different times.

By distinguishing between the documented facts about her life and the interpretations it inspired, the course aims to highlight:

  • the artistry and originality of her paintings
  • her achievement as a professional painter
  • her entrepreneurial spirit as the maestro of a painting school in a male-dominated profession.

Artemisia had a successful career in Florence, Rome, Naples (where she opened her own school) and London. However, her work and that of her father and teacher Orazio and all of Caravaggio’s followers was then neglected for three centuries. They were rediscovered in the 1940s by the art historian Roberto Longhi.

In 1947 Longhi’s wife, the feminist art historian Anna Banti, published the novel Artemisia. This work was translated into English in 1985 and rekindled interest in the painter’s life as much as in her work. It's one of the three novels you'll study on this course.

You'll also follow Artemisia’s transformation into a feminist icon during the 1970s and the controversy inspired by the 1997 film Artemisia, of which she's protagonist. This film gives a much-disputed account of her rape by, and liaison with, the painter Agostino Tassi. This episode overshadowed Artemisia’s life and risks influencing the evaluation of her work to this day.

It was only in 1991 that the first monographic exhibition on Artemisia Gentileschi at Casa Buonarroti, Florence, highlighted her status as a protagonist of the Caravaggesque revolution.

Course content and structure

The course consists of five sessions of one and a half hour including lectures and discussions, and a visit to the exhibition of Artemisia’s work opening at The National Gallery on 3 October 2020.

Session 1
1.    Introduction: Artemisia in the news
2.    Overview of Artemisia’s art, life and career

Session 2
1.    Caravaggio and the Gentileschis
2.    ‘Gentileschi padre e figlia’: the rediscovery by Roberto Longhi

Session 3
1.    Anna Banti’s novel Artemisia  
2.    Interpretations of Artemisia’s painting Judith Slaying Holofernes

Session 4
1.    Alexandra Lapierre’s novel Artemisia. The Story of a Battle for Greatness
2.    Documents of the trial  

Session 5
1.    Susan Vreeland’s novel The Passion of Artemisia
2.    Agnes Merlet’s film Artemisia
3.    Artemisia’s own voice: Acts of the Trial and Letters

Learning outcomes 

This course will help you understand what Artemisia’s paintings are about. You'll also learn how and why she rejects or complies with the painting conventions of her time in her choice of subjects and technique.  

Book a place

Cost: Free

There are no prerequisites for attending this course. This course is free and open to anyone with an interest in Italian art, Renaissance and Baroque art, Artemisia Gentileschi’s oeuvre and art fiction.

Please contact Dr Maria-Novella Mercuri to register your interest.

Course Tutor: Dr Maria-Novella Mercuri

mnm artemisia
Maria-Novella is a Teaching Fellow in Italian and European Cultural Studies. She holds an MPhil in English Literature from the University of Florence, Italy, an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in German Studies from UCL, and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College. She's been teaching in higher education for more than two decades, mostly at UCL.