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Practical Skills: Buildings History - ARC00025I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Matthew Jenkins
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module focuses on the archival sources we can use to research buildings and by grounding this on our doorstep using the archives of the Borthwick Institute for Archives and the buildings of the city and region around us as case studies. We will be meeting for our teaching in the Borthwick Institute, which is part of the JB Morrell Library, poring over actual documents together and building confidence in our skills of visual and critical analysis, whilst comparing this with how other people have written about buildings.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick a Practical Skills module and have a choice of which to take (one in Semester 1)

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

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.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to carry out basic information and literature searches on historic buildings, using a range of research resources
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to identify and locate relevant archive sources for historic buildings
  • Synthesise and interpret a range of cartographic, pictorial, plan and documentary sources related to historic buildings
  • Critically evaluate the use of such sources in the interpretation of historic buildings

Module content

Through the module, we'll explore how we can research buildings using a combination of sources, including documentary sources, plans, sections and elevations of buildings, cartographic sources (maps), as well as pictorial and photographic sources increasingly available online, to analyse and interpret buildings. One of the skills we want to encourage you to develop is source criticism - how can we ask meaningful questions about the purpose of documents and thus be curious about what they reveal about the ways in which buildings were designed - and experienced - in the past.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: written feedback from module leaders

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

David Olusoga (2020) A House Through Time. London: Picador.

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

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.