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Practical: Buildings History - ARC00025I

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

Module summary

This module explores the rich variety of primary and secondary sources available for buildings history. Students engage with original archival sources (historic documents, images and maps) to consider the stories we can tell about buildings (standing and lost) and their owners, visitors, and users across time.

Previous students have commented that it was amazing to get the hands on experience and the module inspired their dissertation idea.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The Practical Skills modules seek to introduce you to a range of skills in various diverse areas of archaeological practice and are designed to allow you to gain experience in a 'hands-on' manner.

This specific module aims to:

  • To introduce the range of archival sources available for researching buildings history

  • To explore how primary and secondary sources can be critically analysed and interpreted.

  • To provide basic training in palaeography.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Carry out basic information and literature searches on historic buildings, using a range of research resources
  • Identify and locate relevant archive sources for historic buildings
  • Analyse and interpret a range of cartographic, pictorial, plan and documentary sources related to historic buildings
  • Develop basic palaeography and transcription skills
  • Critically evaluate the use of such sources in the interpretation of historic buildings

Module content

This is an optional module, part of the suite of Spring Term practical modules. It has a companion Team Project which will run in the Summer Term. The module builds on the field skills introduced in the first year where students gain experience of conducting a buildings survey, and of using resources generated from archive research.

Through the term, students will be expected to develop their skills by combining the analysis of primary records in archives with the critiquing of a buildings history report which makes use of primary records (students write their own specialist report in the co-requisite module the following term so it is important that they understand good practice). The formative assessment is designed to provide training and a similar summative assessment is handed in at the end term. Students will be encouraged to keep an archive notebook throughout the term and in week 10 they will be also be assessed on the archive skills they have acquired during practical sessions and on their ability to “think on their feet” in a class test.

The module will provide basic knowledge and skills related to the location, analysis and interpretation of a range of documentary sources which shed light on buildings history.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 50
Practical Class Test
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 50
Practical Class Test
N/A 50

Module feedback

Formative: The marker will share written feedback with you in a timetabled one-to-one meeting and you will have the opportunity to ask further questions about how to improve your work before your summative assessment. If you are unable to attend the feedback session, your tutor will share the formative feedback with you digitally.

Summative: Written feedback sheets will be uploaded to your e:vision account (your personal University of York online services account) within 20 working days of the submission deadline, along with your overall mark for the module. If you have any questions about your mark and/or your written feedback, you will be able to sign up for office hours with the marker.

Indicative reading

Barson, S (ed.) (2019) Understanding Architectural Drawings and Historical Visual Sources. London: Historic England

Hoskin et al. (2001) Reading the Past: Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Handwriting. York: Borthwick Institute for Archives

Detailed reading for the module will be available via YorkShare (the University's virtual learning environment). When you have enrolled on a module, you will be able to access the full reading list.

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.