ARCH30830 Medieval Buildings: An Arch

Academic Year 2021/2022

Medieval Buildings: An Archaeology is a module designed to provide students with a knowledge of architecture in Europe, with particular emphasis on Ireland and Britain, between AD 1400 and AD 1600. The buildings studied in the module are ecclesiastical and high-status secular; little attention is paid to peasant architecture or to infrastructural architecture. The module ranges from early Christian architecture in Rome to brick architecture in northern European towns at the end of the middle ages, and key buildings discussed include, from the canon of great European buildings, Charlemagne's chapel in Aachen, the Tower of London, Chateau Gaillard, and Milan and Prague Cathedrals, and, from Ireland, Cormac's Chapel in Cashel, Trim Castle, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, and Bunratty Castle. The module shows students how to identify styles, and equips them with knowledge of where those styles first emerged and of how they evolved. Particular attention is paid to the methods by which medieval buildings are studied.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this module students should have the following:

1. Factual knowledge.
Students should know the history of architecture in Europe through the middle ages; they should be able to identify buildings and work out their dates based on a knowledge of style; they should know where the Irish material fits within that European history; they should know why certain buildings are so important.

2. An ability to describe architecture.
There is a technical language of architectural description, and students should possess the basic vocabulary, and be able - in their individual projects - deploy that language.

3. A mastery of concepts.
Architectural History, regardless of period, is a discipline that crosses the boundaries between Archaeology, History, and Art History, but also Philosophy. Constructs that are used in Architectural History such as Romanesque and Gothic, or even terms such as 'castle', are much debated, and students should, at the end of the module, understand why there are debates about such terms and ideas, and should also be able to recognise how those debates parallel other debates in the other disciplines.

4. An appreciation of buildings.
Our architectural heritage from the middle ages is a source of great joy if one is able to understand it, rather than merely be impressed by it. 'Appreciation' in Architectural History, as in Art History, connotes a deep and enriching understanding of a work. At the end of this module, students should be able to communicate an appreciation of a significant number of great European - and Irish - masterpieces.

Indicative Module Content:

1. What is 'style' when applied to architecture?
2. What is the basic, working, vocabulary of Architectural History?
3. What approaches have scholars taken to the study of medieval buildings?
4. What is the relationship between form and function in medieval architecture?


5. How did church architecture develop, from its beginnings in the fourth century to the Reformation?
6. When and where did castles first appear?
7. How did castle architecture develop from the late first millennium?


8. How does Irish architectural history relate to English architectural history and European architectural history?

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module is classroom-based, but there will be optional field-trips to sites which are accessible by public transport. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: A review essay of a book, or of a set of three articles, pertaining to medieval architecture. The choice of item(s) to be reviewed must be cleared with the module co-ordinator in advance. Week 7 n/a Graded Yes


Essay: A selection of thematic essays will be posted for the class and one is to be chosen. Week 10 n/a Graded Yes


Project: Select a building, examine it in the field, and write a report on it, based on knowledge acquired in class. The choice of building must be approved by the module co-ordinator in advance. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The subjects for the review essay and the project need to be approved first by the module co-ordinator, to ensure that they are appropriate (in the case of the review essay) and that there will be enough information (in the case of the project). Class time is devoted to discussing these assignments, and students are also encouraged to discuss their progress with the module co-ordinator. After each assessment the marks are given to students, with general feedback, and students are also encouraged to discuss the marks in person with the module co-ordinator.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Fri 12:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Tues 11:00 - 12:50