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Domestic Historic Interiors - ARC00069M

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

Module summary

This module brings together the academic study of historic house interiors with contemporary heritage interpretation and conservation. How are these interiors interpreted to the public? What stories do we choose to tell and are there other stories (particularly revolving around marginalised social groups) that would be more inclusive and engaging? How do we balance the need to conserve these historic houses with the need to generate revenue and keep them open? How have different disciples (archaeology, art history, history) explored these houses in different ways? 

Students taking this module have said that the staff are very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and approachable and that the sessions allowed students to share ideas and ask questions.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the range of issues, skills and knowledge required to work with historic interiors as a conservation or heritage professional

Module learning outcomes

Subject content By the end of this module students should:

  • Understand current policies relating to the management, curation and interpretation of historic interiors, especially in the UK

  • Be able to research historic interiors and collections to inform and enhance professional curatorial practice


    Academic and Graduate Skills By the end of the module students will have developed and enhanced:

  • Written and verbal communication skills, in formative and summative essays and seminar research and presentations

  • Teamworking and leadership skills in seminar research and presentations

Module content

We follow two strands in this module. The first provides a broad overview of the major themes, including:

  • What are the different sources we can use to investigate historic interiors? 

  • What is the current heritage climate for historic house museums? How are different interpretive methods used in these museums, such as costumed interpretation and digital heritage?

  • What are the conservation challenges and are there tensions with the need to keep the house open to visitors?  

The second strand aims to bring all these major themes together by focusing on a series of case studies, ranging from the medieval period to the 19th century. This allows us to explore how these themes play out in practice and explore the complexity surrounding them. In the assessment, students are encouraged to focus on the areas of the module that most interest them.


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

Vagnone, F. D., Ryan, D. E., Sorin, G. (2016) Anarchist's Guide to Historic House Museums. London: Routledge.

Johnson M (2010) English Houses 1300-1800: Vernacular Architecture, Social Life. Pearson: Harlow.

National Trust (2011) The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.


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.