Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST3243: English Architecture in the Age of Christopher Wren

Department: History

HIST3243: English Architecture in the Age of Christopher Wren

Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the architecture and architectural history concerning the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
  • To teach students to examine a variety of source material, including written and visual.
  • To develop critical acumen in considering the secondary material based on the sources.


  • The period between 1660 and 1720 was remarkable in the architectural history of England, a period when classical architecture made a significant stylistic impact through the designs and projects of major figures such as Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and John Vanbrugh.
  • The module will examine the importance of continental influences on individual architects and the adaptation of classical and continental styles in post-Restoration England at a time when classical architecture was sometimes viewed with suspicion.
  • Attention will be given to the rebuilding of London following the great fire, with special attention to St.
  • Paul's and the City Churches.
  • Further consideration will be given to the major architectural patrons the two universities and the Office of the King's Works and to major projects such as Blenheim Palace.
  • The diffusion of these ideas will be examined through country houses and the importance of 'gentlemen architects' likewise will be assessed.
  • Finally, the module will examine the emergence of Palladianism under the influence of Burlington.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an understanding of aspects of the history of English Architecture, 1660-1720.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/;
  • In addition students will acquire:
  • an ability to interpret a range of primary sources, including written documents and contemporary images;
  • an ability to analyse and synthesise a range of art historical interpretations regarding the module;
  • an ability to describe architectural features and buildings.
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of:
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • Assessment:
  • Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge' research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 22 Weekly in Terms 1, 2 & 3 3 hours 66
Revision Sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 532
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 Max 3000 words not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Essay 2 Max 3000 words not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Source Analyses Max 3000 words not including scholarly apparatus 32%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography); preparation to participate in seminar and tutorials; at least one oral presentation, and practice source/gobbet work.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University