Accessibility statement

Monuments of the Islamic World: Innovation and Change from Spain to India - HOA00054H

« Back to module search

  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Richard McClary
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

This course uses six key monuments from the late medieval and early modern periods, spanning the eastern, central and western Islamic lands, as prisms through which a deeper understanding of a larger corpus of buildings is established.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

This course uses six key monuments from the late medieval and early modern periods, spanning the eastern, central and western Islamic lands, as prisms through which a deeper understanding of a larger corpus of buildings is established. The course addresses two examples from each of the three key structural typologies in Islamic architecture. For palaces; there is a close study of the Alhambra in Granada and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. For mosques; the Friday Mosque in Isfahan the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. Finally, the Ahmed Yasawi Tomb in Turkistan and the Taj Mahal in Agra provide an understanding of the tomb.

Numerous antecedent structures of the six key monuments, along with the construction materials and decorative motifs, will be examined. This will demonstrate the main dynastic styles of the period. There is a particular focus on the aesthetics developed in Ottoman Turkey, Timurid Iran and Mughal India during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The course starts with a study of theories, approaches and problems concerning the field of Islamic art history. This includes a number of the different scholarly approaches to the material. Attention then moves to the study of buildings constructed from a wide variety of materials, and will give an explanation of how the primary media of construction were combined to create the formal and decorative whole.

By drawing on a wide range of sources, but focusing on six key monuments, students will gain the ability to assess the fluid nature of craftsmen and craft practices, the views of the main scholars in the field, and a sense of the hybridity, diversity and underlying unity of the art and architecture of the Islamic world.

The course will include a field trip (possible locations to include Andalucía, Istanbul or Morocco) to allow for students to engage directly with individual monument and their broader urban setting, as well as museum collections holding elements removed from buildings studied in the course.

This wide-ranging course will be the only one of its type available in the UK, and will give students an excellent foundation for further studies in the field.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should have acquired:

  • An awareness of the scale and the scope of medieval and early modern Islamic architecture.
  • A clear understanding of the medieval phase of development and allow them to gain a strong grasp on the key monuments covered in the course.
  • The ability to recognize the primary materials and decorative styles of the major dynasties ruling the Islamic world during the period of study.
  • The skills to critically analyse the opinions of key scholars in the field, and synthesize differing views regarding the connections between the arts of the various regions of the Islamic world.
  • The ability to independently research and present their findings in a public setting.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
Open Exam
8 hours 90
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Seminar Oral Performance
N/A 10

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
Open Exam
8 hours 90

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on their formative work within one week.

Students will receive feedback on their summative work within 20 working days.

Indicative reading

Alfieri, B. M. 2000. Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, London

Babaie, S. 2008. Isfahan and Its Palaces: Statecraft, Shi’ism and the Architecture of Conviviality in Early Modern Iran, Edinburgh

Begley, W. E. and Desai, Z. A. 1989. Taj Mahal: The Illuminated Tomb, London / Seattle, WA

Blair, S. and Bloom, J. 2004. The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800, London/New Haven, CT

Fernández-Puertas, A. 2001. The Alhambra: From the Ninth Century to Yusef I, London

Grabar, O. 1990. The Great Mosque of Isfahan, New York, NY

Hillenbrand, R. 1994. Islamic Architecture: Form, Function, Meaning, Edinburgh

Koch, E. and Barraud, R. A. 2006. The Complete Taj Mahal: And the Riverfront Gardens of Agra, London

Kuban, D. 2010. Ottoman Architecture, Woodbridge

Lambah, A. N. and Patel, A. (eds.) 2006. The Architecture of the Indian Sultanates, Mumbai

Leaman, O. 2004. Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction, Edinburgh

Necipoglu, G. 1991. Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Cambridge, MA



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.