ARCH41380 Urban Histories and Heritages

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module introduces students to the history of urbanism from the middle ages to the present. Its reach is global: it covers cities in all parts of the world. The focus is on the physical rather than the documentary evidence for the histories of cities. Discussions of individual cities will draw heavily on archaeological evidence where it is available.

Approaches to the study of urbanism will feature prominently. The module will explore the nature of urban archaeology as a specialised branch of the discipline, and review the differences in practises between archaeologists of the middle ages and archaeologists of modernity. The module will also consider approaches and schools of thought which are conventionally non-archaeological; it will feature, for example, the Chicago and LA Schools of urban research.

Urban places are places of heritage, and the identification and management of such heritage is addressed in UNESCO's Historic Urban Landscape concept. The module will review that concept critically, focusing on living urban places which have, or desire to have, World Heritage Site status.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this module, it is expected that students will have acquired the following:

1. An advanced knowledge of urban history, of the processes which have driven urban creation and development since the middle ages

2. A critical awareness of the approaches which scholars across a range of Humanities disciplines have taken to the study of urban places

3. An ability to deploy, or to evaluate the benefits of deploying, different approaches to the study of urban places

4. An advanced knowledge of international policies and recommendations for the preservation of urban heritages, and an ability to critique their efficacies and ideological underpinnings.

Indicative Module Content:

The module has three components.

1. Urban history, middle ages to present. There will be a general survey, with detailed case-studies of individual cities or groups of cities: medieval walled cities; Hanseatic League cities, medieval Saharan/sub-Saharan cities; European colonial cities in the Americas; modern American cities (Chicago, Detroit, LA). Dublin is a good laboratory for exploring the matters of urban history and heritage, and will be studied using field trips.

2. Methodologies. The module will cover urban archaeological praxis, Town Plan Analysis, the Chicago and LA Schools of urbanism.

3. Urban heritage. The module will use UNESCO's Historic Urban Landscapes policy as a point of departure for considering the challenges of identifying and preserving both tangible and intangible urban heritages.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is classroom-based, but there will be a fieldtrip to Galway and a number of field trips around Dublin.

The first two-thirds of the module are led by the co-ordinator.

The sequence of topics is structured around the three main themes - urban history, methodologies, heritage - and there is a corpus of information in each lecture which is necessary for the student to learn. Within that framework, though, the approach is one of facilitation, with students encouraged to contribute based on their acquired or experiential knowledge of urban places, and empowered to raise issues. The book review for the first essay is limited to a selection, albeit a wide selection. For the larger project, students chose their own topics.

The final third of the module is student-led, with each student presenting their project idea, followed by a discussion in the classroom. The presentations are not graded. 
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 substantial essay on a theme which is either urban archaeological or draws on the principles of 'Historic Urban Landscape'. The topic of the essay is chosen by the student. Week 11 n/a Graded Yes


Essay: A book review, the book to be chosen from a selection of titles. Week 8 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
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided, in person, to students individually after their submission of their essays, and general feedback will be provided to the entire class after the submission of the first essay. Late in the semester, students will make (ungraded) presentations on their research for the second assessment, and this will be the context for feedback prior to submission.

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) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 15:00 - 16:50