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Analysing Historic Buildings - ARC00010M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kate Giles
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module provides a distinctive and engaging introduction to analysing historic buildings, introducing students to the skills of visual analysis, desk-based assessment and research, and knowledge of building structures, materials and architectural history. Drawing on examples and case studies from the UK, it lays the foundations for further study and sets historic buildings analysis in the wider context of the heritage and conservation process. 

Students have said that this module lays the foundation for their studies and employment and that they appreciate the expertise and support of the course tutors.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • To understand buildings archaeology within the context of heritage and conservation practice
  • To introduce students to the specialised skills required for the archaeological analysis and recording of historic buildings
  • To introduce students to the assessment of significance and the visual analysis of historic buildings

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should:

Subject content

  • Understand the role of buildings archaeology within the context of heritage and conservation practice
  • Carry out a basic desk-based assessment of an historic building in the UK
  • Analyse and phase the archaeological sequence of an historic building
  • Locate and apply dating evidence from relevant historical and documentary sources to the analysis of historic buildings

Academic and graduate skills

  • Have developed transferrable skills of independent research, written and verbal communication and small group work and visual/verbal presentation

Other learning outcomes (if applicable)

  • Understand the range of employment opportunities open to students with buildings analysis skills and the inter-relationship of professions within the field

Module content

This module is designed to introduce you to the basics of analysing buildings. We will consider the development of buildings archaeology and the current frameworks within which buildings archaeologists operate, particularly in conservation and heritage. We then go on to address the key approaches and methodologies in buildings archaeology; looking at archival research into buildings history, identifying key sources of secondary and primary sources that underpin both academic and practice-based research. We will familiarise ourselves with current professional guidance on standards and reports, including desk based assessments, historic buildings reports and heritage statements. The module will then go on to introduce you to the basics of analysing buildings, building your understanding of how materials, structures and architectural history can be used to visually analyse a series of case studies through lectures and on site practicals. Many of these issues will come together in our analysis of case studies, many of which are on our doorstep in York and Yorkshire. Throughout the module, you'll build up a good working knowledge of approaches to historic buildings and practice skills of visual analysis, desk based assessment, archive research and group work.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 6 weeks.

Indicative reading

Brittain Caitlin, T 2007 How to Read a Building: interpret a building’s character and style (London: Collins)

Historic England 2015 Understanding Historic Buildings: a Guide to Good Recording Practice 

Morriss, R K 2000 The Archaeology of Buildings (Stroud, Tempus)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.