module specification

CP4012A - Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Architecture) (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Architecture)
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 150
123 hours Guided independent study
27 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Patchwork and Reflection
Coursework 40%   Case Study
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS) Level 4 aims to orient and critically engage students in the history and theory of their discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice.

The module helps students to reflect on what they see, and to read connections between different ideas that have shaped their discipline. In particular the module investigates how thinking and articulating ideas about practice in their field might be framed – for example in relation to history, the economy, society and the environment, or through theory and practice.

The module introduces students to a range of academic skills needed to produce a graduate-level study in their final year. It helps students to develop their own interests, and to reflect on and take responsibility for the development of their own learning. This includes surveys in the history of their discipline, research and writing workshops, seminars, library sessions, visits and tours in addition to guided independent learning.

Prior learning requirements

Pre-requisite of equivalent of standard University entry requirements in a related subject.


European History and Theory Block 1  L.O 1 - 6

This survey course introduces the history of western architecture, interior design and urban form from Ancient Greece to the 19th century. Lectures take a broad view, concentrating on canonical examples, comparing them with works of art of the same period and setting them broadly in their social and political context. In the seminars, students discuss texts written during the period in question as well as texts written by historians. They also write short critical texts of their own, based on what they have learnt in lectures and experienced in the streets and museums of London. The aim of the course is to familiarise students with the common stock of examples drawn upon in theoretical and critical writings, and to encourage critical thinking and the coherent expression of ideas.

Architecture in London L.O 1 - 6

Students (with guidance) will select a building that they can visit in London and research and analyse it in relation to its context, location and materiality. They will present their findings in a short case study demonstrating their awareness of the social, historical, political, economic, spatial or other context of the building.

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 are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able:

1. To use information retrieval systems effectively and develop appropriate methods for collecting, organising and deploying knowledge
2. To read, analyse and interpret different kinds of written texts and other key sources of documented knowledge, such as recorded sound or images, objects and artefacts
3. To demonstrate familiarity with the scope of their discipline and its and broader ethical, historical, social, cultural, economic and practice-based contexts
4. To articulate a critical understanding of the objects of their study, using a range of written forms of presentation, noting specific terms, languages, references, genres and audiences
5. To become aware of the relationship between the theories and practices of their discipline in its creative application
6. To effectively respond to and reflect upon feedback on their own work in order to develop and improve their learning

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed in a developmental way and structured as a sequence of summative assessments submitted at the end of each teaching block. Students receive formative tutorials before each submission, and feedback during the first session of the following block. This helps students to build and improve skills as the syllabus progresses and distributes time spent preparing for assessments evenly throughout the year. Assessments comprise different types of written texts that enable students to use different modes of presentation, for example:

1. patchwork assessment and short written exercises (900–1,200 words);
2. case study or studies (900–1,000 words);

Module assessment criteria:
1. application and engagement;
2. quality of content (research, accuracy, relevance, scope);
3. quality of presentation (English, references, terminology, literacy, protocols);
4. effective structure (clarity, links, synthesis);
5. deployment of critical and analytical skills (argument, interpretation, discussion).


The Critical and Contextual Studies reading list is responsive to emergent ideas, and designed to introduce students to current debates in their discipline and a broad range of different resources. The critical analysis of recent publications and materials is supported by a set of core readings. The following list is indicative.

Histories and Texts 
• Kostof, S. (1995) A history of architecture: settings and rituals. Oxford University Press
• Pevsner, N (1964) An outline of European architecture, Harmondsworth, Penguin
• Millon, H. A. (1964) Key monuments of the history of architecture, Prentice-Hall, New York
• Bruno, G. (2002) Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture and Film, Verso
• Harbison, R. (2006) Travels in the history of architecture, Reaktion

Journals, Websites and Databases
• Journals: Architectural Review, The Architect’s Journal
• Websites:
• Electronic databases: JSTOR, Art full text