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HIST3220 Alternative histories: Homes and houses: challenging the domestic

Module Overview

One of the earliest human instincts has been to find or construct shelter and a place to live. However, such dwellings are more than functional: they help shape family relationships, economic activities, and act as monuments to power. For the historian, they provide an insight into the daily lives of peoples in the past, embody social organisation and wider ideologies. In this module, you will have the opportunity to study buildings in Hampshire from the Roman, Medieval and Early Modern period. Through student-led seminars, you will learn about the characteristics of the domestic buildings of each of these periods, and the major theoretical approaches we use to investigate them. Field trips will allow you to apply this knowledge to the interpretation of specific buildings. This will develop your skills in order to undertake the analysis of a building you select for the assessment.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Forms of buildings from the Roman, Medieval and Early modern periods: their layouts, decoration and use
  • The layout and development of specific buildings in Hampshire from these periods
  • The relationship of these buildings to wider social, political and economic aspects of the period
  • The challenges in reconstructing the detail of a building and its changes over time
  • Trends in modern scholarship dealing with buildings and their interpretation.
  • The way in which classicism is re-interpreted in later architectural traditions.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the form and development of buildings and architecture.
  • Show familiarity with a range of buildings and the textual evidence concerning the ideas of architecture.
  • Apply knowledge of modern theories of architectural history and the interpretation of space to specific buildings.
  • Critically analyse the fabric of buildings.
  • Critically analyse textual evidence relating to buildings and architecture
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Organise and structure material to write and present confidently.
  • Identify, select, and synthesise key arguments from recommended resources.
  • Participate constructively in group discussions.
  • Analyse evidence critically.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Extract information about building plans and exterior and interior decoration from a range of sources.
  • Examine the political, cultural and social context within which specific types of buildings were constructed.
  • Examine how buildings and their decoration provide evidence for past societies.
  • Evaluate methods used to interpret buildings.
  • Evaluate the factors that contributed to this development.
  • Critically assess the value of buildings as historical evidence.
  • Critically evaluate the role of buildings in past society.
  • Critically evaluate modern scholarship on buildings and their interpretation


In this module you will examine a range of buildings from Hampshire covering the Roman, Medieval and Early Modern periods. As this will in part be through fieldtrips, the content will vary dependent on which buildings we are able to arrange access to. The fieldtrips form an important part of the learning activities, but the assessments are not dependent upon them. As an indication, you can expect the module to include: • Introduction: definitions of building and architecture • Roman villas • Visit to Rockbourne Roman villa • Theories of architecture: the significance of style and decoration • Theories of architecture: the use of space • Medieval architecture • Visit to Tudor House and Garden, Southampton • Theories of architecture: buildings and power • Theories of architecture: houses and households • 18th century architecture and the reinvention of classicism • Field trip to Mottisfont Abbey

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Seminars covering the key characteristic of the buildings of the Roman, Medieval and Early Modern period • Seminar covering key theories of architectural history • Field trips to examine specific buildings, usually in Hampshire, as examples of the architecture of the period Learning activities include: • Preparatory reading before each seminar. • Participation in group and class discussion. • Providing peer feedback on research projects • Independent research into specific buildings. • Independent research into architectural theories and their application to historical buildings • Preparing and giving presentations on specific aspects of the modules. • Leading seminar discussions involving the critical assessment of primary and secondary material • Field trips to specific buildings

Follow-up work56
Completion of assessment task100
Preparation for scheduled sessions108
External visits12
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Summerson, John (1993). Architecture in Britain, 1530 – 1830. 

Todd, M (1978). Studies in the Romano-British villa. 

Johnson, M (1996). An archaeology of capitalism. 

Woodforde, John (1978). Georgian Houses for all. 

Arnold, D (2002). Reading architectural history. 

Leach, Neil (1997). Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. 


Assessment Strategy

As the specific fieldtrips are not integral to the assessment, it will not be necessary to repeat them for students who are absent. For any students who cannot make any of the three fieldtrips, an alternative exercise will be organised to be carried out by the students at their own convenience which will provide them with an equivalent learning experience.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Research project  (3000 words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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