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ARC1015 : Introduction to Architecture

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stephen Parnell
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To enable students to:

• Develop an awareness of and an ability to learn independently about the histories of architecture and the built environment in diverse areas of the world, encompassing both monumental and everyday buildings and spaces, their emergence in the past, and their shaping of present day places and society.

• Recognise the range of factors in addition to design which contribute to the formal and material qualities of architecture, such as technological, social, political, economic, geographic, and cultural forces, including a preliminary awareness of architecture’s role in colonialism, oppression, and resource extraction.

• Understand historic works of architecture as cases which can inform contemporary challenges facing architects such as the climate emergency and social justice.

• Appreciate a range of forms in which architectural history can be written and presented, develop close reading skills, and a critical awareness of the inclusions, exclusions, and biases architectural histories can involve.

• Critically communicate an understanding of architectural history and its relevance using a range of written and graphic forms, informed by appropriate media, academic research, and referencing methods.

Outline Of Syllabus

This introductory level module uses a thematic structure of lectures and readings to open students’ eyes to the history of architecture and the built environment in diverse areas of the world as narrated in a wide range of discursive forms from scholarship to the designer’s monograph to guided walks and as students experience it directly in the present.

Themes can vary according to current issues or the expertise of the teaching team, for example:
• Endurance and change.
• At home.
• Production and exchange.
• Monumentality and power.

Weekly tasks relating to each theme encourage students to relate examples local to their home to the wide range of buildings and spaces introduced in lectures and readings. These include domestic, informal, and vernacular architectures as well as monumental and canonical works. The emphasis is on detailed studies over the survey in order to give close attention to the political, economic, social, cultural, technological, and geographic forces which shape architectural production, the roles which built form can and has had in oppression, colonialism and resource extraction, and how architecture is experienced, preserved, and used.

The course establishes a framework for the continuing research, knowledge, study, and appreciation of the histories of built form, the factors that produce it, its effects, and its representation in discourse

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00S2 Content and skills based lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00S1 May include module introduction to themes, activities, Q&A, and in-class exercises
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion801:0080:00S2 Essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion341:0034:00S1 Poster
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials140:307:00S1 and S2
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading121:0012:00S1 and S2
Guided Independent StudySkills practice91:009:00Various skills including library, research, writing, and analysis
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00In week 6 to prepare submission and in S2 for critical reading and writing skills (in groups of approximately 10 students)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities33:009:00S2 Seminar preparation
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity91:009:00Both semesters start with group work which moves into individual study
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study61:006:00Reading and viewing
Teaching Rationale And Relationship


A mixture of scheduled and structured activities, including mini lectures, reading and skills-based tasks to be carried out individually and in small student-groups around a theme (e.g. ‘at home’, ‘architecture and power’, ‘production and exchange’) enable students to build their knowledge of architecture and develop the skills to locate and evaluate information independently.

Themes can be responsive to staff specialisms, to changing teaching situations and timetables. and to current concerns as they arise.

Structured activities draw on and take advantage of the range of places Stage 1 students come from as a means both to extend the scope of examples of architectural history for the whole cohort and to value diverse cultures and knowledges. Students work independently and in groups, using a range of visual and text-based methods which allow multiple entry points for students with diverse levels of existing competence and confidence. Learning is supported by weekly directed and independent reading, and skills practice, and towards the end of the Semester by assessment preparation.


A four-week teaching block is focussed more on reading, researching, and writing skills to prepare students for their essay submission after Easter. Lectures and structured individual and group activities support three seminars in which students discuss readings and review tasks that are staged carefully towards their essay writing.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Poster1M30An annotated and illustrated historical guided walk poster or pamphlet.
Essay2M70A 2000 word illustrated essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship


A poster or pamphlet explaining a historical walk is produced individually and assesses the student’s ability to access and interpret information about buildings in context, to construct a narrative about relationships that demonstrates understanding of their history and significance, and to communicate their analysis and ideas using graphic techniques. Elements of the walk are selected and researched on a weekly basis in response to themes discussed in teaching sessions and brought together in the final submission in week 8.

An essay appraises the student’s understanding of themes introduced during the module and their capacity to consider buildings in terms of their historical and social context, and assesses their ability to produce a clearly written and illustrated essay using academic research and referencing methods.

Reading Lists