module specification

AR7003 - Interpretation (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Interpretation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
161 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75% 50 4000 word essay
Seminar 25%   Seminar presentation
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Wednesday Afternoon
Autumn semester City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module's main task is to assist students in developing a creative skill in interpreting the built and lived world. It engages with the interpretation and representation of complex objects like London through the art of writing.
This module engages with the creative act of writing about a complex architectural subject such as London as an exemplary lived and built city. By presenting a familiar but impossibly large and complex subject, the module aims to encourage students to think creatively. It is about building new connections between things rather than learning to reiterate existing partitions. The discipline of the endeavour is rooted in three processes: the composition of evidence, critical reflection, developing a story from a range of literary and non-literary sources. The aim in this is to help students determine a balance between the weight of detailed facts and given arguments, and their own conceptual leaps and critical judgments. The enterprise should involve students in creating a productive and sociable working pattern.


The main task of this module is to help students develop a creative skill in the written interpretation of the built and lived world. The paradigm is the ‘city’ - for its immediacy and richness of encounters, its lure as an object of reflection and subject of control. The module will span between London as an extremely fertile example of the city, and a series of texts that explore the nature of modernity in reference to some of its defining characteristics. The module is structured as a series of forays, some of which address the nature of the whole, others which explore particular scenarios. En route students will be introduced to a selection of the established sources of material available for research. In parallel they will also be expected to visit exhibitions and cultural events of the moment. The themes and sequence of study may, for example, be outlined as follows: LO1,LO3

Foray 1: Labyrinths and Observation LO1,LO3
Guided study visits to known and less known exhibition places and museums ranging from the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Museum of London and the Freud museum. The visits attempt to tell the story of the city through the archaeology of its artifacts and its more intimate interiors. Both may be read as metaphors for a wider whole.
Seminar readings and discussions on museum walks, cultural ‘order’ from Ackroyd, Borges, Daston, Foucault, Weiss.

Foray 2: Spatial Engagement  LO1,LO3
Student research and workshop discussion on ways of looking at and representing the city that engage the viewer spatially, for example in maps, guidebooks, transport networks, panoramas, novels, film, installation art.
Seminars readings and discussion on perception, space and representation from Benjamin, Certeau, Lefebrve, Sadler, Perec.

Foray 3: Domestic and Public LO1,LO3
Student research and workshop discussion on range of specific and illustrated examples that might be termed domestic or public – or both – from Churchill’s war rooms, to Freud’s private house, the Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Crystal Gallery of the Royal College of Surgeons to the Opera House.
Seminar readings and discussion on private and public from Evans, Sennett, Watson, Colomina.

Foray 4: Storehouses and Repositories LO1,LO4
Student research and workshop discussion on targeted range of ‘evidence’ excavated from institutional holdings including museums, galleries, national and local archives, specialist libraries.
Seminar readings and discussion on atlases, archives, storehouses, repositories, libraries, collections from Crimp, Benjamin, Colomina, Berman, Bataille, Yates.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students have the opportunity to study outside of scheduled classes. A range of learning strategies are deployed and individual learning styles accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, are regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive pedagogical approach.
The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning. Peer-to-peer communication is fostered in seminars and tutorial support provided at key points in the calendar. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment tasks and formative feedback. Students are encouraged to reflect on their progress and engage in sequential decision making through staged submissions and worksheets, and to make recommendations to themselves for future development.
The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able – as they progress – to understand the professional environment of their discipline, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions and aspirations.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student should be able to:
1. access a wide range of sources of module related material and have a working knowledge of how to compile and reference the material;
2. understand the complexity, discuss and critically reflect on the nature of modernity and the city as reflected in current issues;
3. compose a body of research material and construct a coherent interpretation of its significance;
4. present an engaging and convincing written scenario or narrative on an aspect of the city that is of theoretical and/ or historical interest.

Assessment strategy

Assessment will be based on a 4000 word essay on one of the themes covered in the module (75%), and class presentation on a text and/or visit (25%).The pass mark for the module is to be calculated as an aggregate of the components weighted accordingly, with the proviso that the candidate must pass Component 1 (the essay)


Ackroyd, Peter. London, The Biography. London (Chatto & Windus, 2000)
Benjamin, Walter, The Arcades Projects (London: Belknap, 1999)
Berman, Marshall, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: the Experience of Modernity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982)
Borges, Jorge Luis, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (Penguin Classics, 2000)
Certeau, Michel de, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University California Press, 1988)
Clastres, Pierre. Archaeology of Violence. Jeanine Herman trans (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 1994).
Daston, Lorraine, ed.,Things That Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science (ZONE Books, 2007)
Jan van Pelt, Robert. The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).
Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things (London: Routledge, 1989)
Foucault, Michel. Fearless Speech (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2001).
Le Gates, Richard T. and Frederic Stout, eds.,The City Reader (London: Routledge, 1996)
Schmitt, Carl. Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum (Candor, NY: Telos Press, 2003).
Soja, Edward. Seeking Spatial Justice (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2010).
Stone, Christopher. Should Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality and the Environment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972).
Weizman, Eyal. Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014).
Wright, Patrick, A Journey through Ruins: the Last Days of London (London: Radius, 1991)