module specification

AR7065 - History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
200 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75%   4,000 word essay
Oral Examination 25%   Seminar Presentation
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module asks students to engage both empathically and critically in analysis of cultural and architectural heritage from various historical periods, so as to inform their understandings of, and responses to, contemporary architectural ideas and practices.  

Module aims

The module is focused on a critical analysis of the evolution of spatio-temporal paradigms, scientific epistemes and corresponding architectural concepts throughout the history of European civilization. The reconstruction of the continuous transformation of successive cultural matrixes – from Antiquity to Industrial era – is accomplished by means of thorough examination of the pivotal developments in the history of philosophy, architecture, natural science, social organization and urban planning. This is thus a history of space and time.

The main aim of the module is to assist students in establishing empathic ties with European cultural history through a common educational effort, aimed at tracing and conceptualizing the intrinsic logic of historical socio-cultural and spatial transformations. Each student is encouraged to provide his/her own way of threading the historical narrative, while arriving at deeper understanding of the contemporary state of architecture as a discipline in its complex relation to the long-term tendencies in the general process of development of human knowledge and culture.


As pointed out by Russian semiotician Yuri Lotman, the human consciousness of the Post-industrial age is characterized by a profound loss of holistic spatiotemporal intuition. It has turned instead into a purely semiotic crossroad, where the representations of space and time, ensuing from different historical periods, ancient myths and scientific / philosophical doctrines, relentlessly crash into each other without reaching a meaningful compromise. This frustrating condition is partly mitigated by the ubiquitous ‘machinisation’ of contemporary thinking, but the frail mantle of conventional technical rules is unable to sustain the growing pressure of unresolved cognitive and cultural contradictions. Long ago deprived of its natural innocence, our living environment, as a result, becomes less and less architectural, and therefore less and less livable.

Through the examination of distinctive spatiotemporal paradigms from the European past, this module encourages students to become, first of all, the architects of their own spatial perception and cognitive orientation. Beside introductory seminars, devoted to the notions of space and time in general, the module includes a series of lectures and seminars on four major historical stages – Antiquity, Middle Ages, Post Renaissance, and Industrial era. Each of the thematic blocks is accompanied by reading of selected historical texts. Each block contains five lectures, presenting:
1) key philosophical doctrines;
2) developments in the field of mathematics, geometry and optics;
3) principal concepts and ‘cognitive style’ of natural science;
4) major texts on architectural and art theory;
5) selected examples of architectural and urban planning practice – all characteristic for each historical period and related conceptual transformation.

The discussion during seminars is centred on challenging prevailing theoretical interpretations and on the question of how the space and architectural monuments were actually perceived and experienced by those who lived in the respective historical periods.

Learning and teaching

The module will be supported by a printed reader of selected historical texts. Apart from attending the lecture course students will be assigned to write short reviews / comments on selected readings. Most successful reviews will be developed into student’s individual presentations during the seminars. Towards the end of the module students will be asked to propose a topic for a 3 to 4000 words essay related to both the theme of the module and the theme of their architectural studio project. Opportunities for personal intellectual and creative development will be provided through the choice of essay topics developed for the assessment, supported by individual consultations. Essay and rviews work can be supported by individual online consultations with the module tutors.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student should be able to:

1. engage both empathically and critically in analysis of cultural and architectural heritage from various historical periods;
2. articulate his/her personal understanding of major developments and changes in the historical evolution of spatiotemporal paradigms and cultural systems;
3. make productive discursive links between philosophical and architectural concepts of the past and the current state of architectural discipline;
4. employ the concepts of space and time precisely and effectively in their personal professional discourse;
5. understand how to pursue, communicate and defend their position as agents of culture in the fields of political, social and economical production;
6. express themselves concisely and eloquently in writing.

Assessment strategy

Assessment will be based on a class presentation of one of the set texts (25%) and an essay of 3 to 4000 words on the topic, proposed by a student, which will reflect both the theme of the module and the theme of his/her architectural studio project (75%).


General reading:
1. Sigfried Giedeon Space Time and Architecture – the growth of a new tradition Harvard University Press 1941
2. Henri Lefebvre. The Production of Space. Malden, Blackwell Publishers, 1991. – Избранные фрагменты: Лефевр А.
Производство пространства. Замысел работы. – Проект International 24, Москва, 2009.
3. Флоренский П.А. Лекции о пространственности и времени в художественно-изобразительных произведениях (1925). – В кн. Флоренский П.А. Собрание сочинений. Москва, «Мысль», 2000.
4. Слотердайк П. Сферы, Т. I-III. Санкт-Петербург, «Наука», 2005-2010.

Selected fragments from:
1. Antiquity: Heraclitus, Empedocles, Plato, Aristotle, Chrysippus, Lucretius, Plotinus, Athenaeus Machanicus, Heron, Ptolemy, Vitruvius, Philo of Alexandria. Михайлов Б.П. Витрувий и Эллада: Основы античной теории архитектуры. Москва, «Стройиздат», 1967.
2. Middle Ages: Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Avicenna, Averroes, Fibonacci, Occam, Buridan, Sugerius; Панофский Э. Готическая архитектура и схоластика. – В кн.: Богословие в культуре средневековья. Киев, 1992.
3. Renaissance and Post-Renaissance: Marsilio Ficino, Alberti, Palladio, Bacon, Galileo, Fermat, Becher, Newton, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Perrault, N.-F. Blondel; Ахутин А.В. Понятие природа в античности и в Новое время (фюзис и натура). Москва, «Наука», 1988.
4. Industrial era: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Laplace, Lavoisier, Dalton, Gauss, Maxwell, Boltzmann, Einstein, Ledoux, Bötticher, Viollet-le-Duc, Loos, Corbusier; Хайек Ф.-А фон. Контрреволюция науки. Этюды о злоупотреблении разумом. Москва, «ОГИ», 2003; Маклюэн М. Понимание Медиа: Внешние расширения человека. Москва – Жуковский, «КАНОН-пресс-Ц», «Кучково поле», 2003.