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  • Locations: Rome, Italy
  • Program Terms: Winter Break
  • Budget Sheets: Winter Break
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.25 Minimum GPA (Graduate): 3.0
Language of Instruction: English Housing: Hotel
Number of Credits Offered: 3 Eligible Population: 01 Freshman, 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior, Graduate, Non-Degree Seeking
Type of Program: Faculty-led Area of Study: Psychology
Fulfills Mason Core Requirement: Yes Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:
Psychological Intrigue

The Dark Heart of Rome

The Dark Heart of Rome program runs every other year in odd years (next offering January 2019). If you are interested in this program save it to your profile.

In the Dark Heart of Rome, you will delve beneath the city of Rome via the Roman Forum, the Catacombs, and the Cerveteri Necropolis, Etruscan City of the Dead. Murder, mystery, and madness will become part of your daily experience as you explore the ancient city of Rome, and we visit the ghostly remains of Pompeii, including the world’s most infamous brothel – the Lupanare. Gladiators, political intrigue, religious turmoil, annihilation of a city, and Roman legends will be evaluated through a psychologist's lens.  When you are not exploring, you are still in one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Rome off hours offers cozy cafes, great food, unique boutiques, a busy nightlife including Italy’s own Irish Pub - Scholars Lounge, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. With its myriad sights, you will encounter beauty and history in Rome's every corner. 

Program Details

Credits Offered:

  • Psychology (PSYC) 405: Mystery, Madness, and Murder (satisfies the Mason Core requirement in synthesis)
  •  Psychology (PSYC) 461: Special Topics
  • Psychology (PSYC) 592: Special Topics

Eligibility & Prerequisites

This program is open to all undergraduate and graduate students including students who do not attend George Mason University. 
Application Checklist


Double or triple occupancy in hotels

Program Cost (Winter 2017): $3738

  • Tuition (3 credits)
  • Accommodation 
  • Some meals (breakfast daily and additional meals as outlined below)
  • Metro tickets for necessary program-related activities
  • Cultural tours and excursions
  • Pre-departure Orientation
  • International Emergency Insurance
Not Included:
  • Round-trip airfare
  • Other transportation
  • Most meals
  • Personal spending

Program Itinerary*

Day 1            Arrival day. Plan to be at the hotel by the evening of December 27th.
Day 2       Welcome lunch; introduction to the course and Rome.
Day 3           Angels & Demons: Visit piazzas of Rome as well as unexplored sites where pagan symbolism and Christianity inter-mix to reveal a disturbing ancient truth. Includes a four hour tour and one hour off-site class meeting.
Day 4       Dark Heart of Rome, Fact, Legend, and Mystery: A guided walking tour of Rome at night. Includes a one hour off-site class meeting and an hour and a half night tour.
Day 5 Lecture Part 1: Religious Turmoil, Hegemony of the Church - Psychology of Religion and Cults.
Lecture Part 2: Political Intrigue: Roman Conquerors = Terrorism and Social Psychology in Action.
Day 6 Free Day.
Day 7 Lecture: Gladiators: A Spectator Sport? Psychology of Violence & Aggression.
Day 8 Full day at Vatican City.
Day 9 Semi-private Colosseum Underground and Ancient Rome tour. Includes three and a half hour tour and one hour off-site class meeting.
Day 10 Day trip to Pompeii.
Day 11  Crypts & Catacombs - The Underside of Rome. Includes three hour tour and one hour off-site class meeting.
Day 12 Lecture Part 1: Collateral Damage = Psycho-Social Outcomes of Natural Disasters and Traumatic Loss.
Lecture Part 2: Psychology of Life after Death: Human Remains, Burial Practices, and What They Mean/Beliefs.
Day 13 Wrap-up and final presentations. Celebration dinner in the evening.
Day 14 Students depart for the U.S.
*Instructor reserves the right to modify the course schedule as needed

Contact Information

Program Officer

Laura Scobey

Academic Director

Rebecca Morse

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.