Module: Buildings in the Landscape

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Dr Geraint Coles and David Hardwick
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    150 hours
  • Contact hrs

    30 hours

Module content

This course sets out to explore the evolution of buildings in their landscape context and in so doing it provides an historical introduction to architectural styles;  The relationship between building style, form, function and materials is shaped by the environment in which they are located and are an integral part. 

The “building environment” can be thought of as having three main elements:

  1. the social environment which determines the form and nature of human interactions (and may, for example, shape settlement structure or a fashion for a particular style);
  2.  the economic environment which determines the activities which a building or structure is required to perform (even simple domestic dwellings encapsulates the ways in which they function and hence their economies) and
  3. the physical environment – the ecology, geology and landforms which determine the location of sites, transport links, the availability of materials in the landscape from timber to local stone and the types of economic activity and skills which may be viable

Through much of history the relationship between these forces was essentially local and resulted in intensely different regional styles of “vernacular” building. The emergence of more complex organizational structures, market economies, improved transportation and consequent social change resulted in a shift away from simple to multiple styles reflecting their owner’s ability to express social aspiration, status and the latest fashions.

To that end, whilst brief consideration is given to early buildings - especially religious buildings - the primary focus of the course is on vernacular and architectural developments post 1500 AD.  Particular attention is paid to the increasing diversity of building types and styles seen during the Georgian, Victorian and Modern eras. 

Module outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  1. Distinguish the key elements of buildings and structures and be able to evaluate them using the appropriate terminology
  2. Demonstrate a sound understanding of the key architectural styles, their chronology and development from the Mediaeval period to the Present
  3. Critically analyse and discuss the influence of landscape and environment in shaping the local and regional characteristics of buildings
  4. Investigate the interrelationship of local factors with wider stylistic trends and fashions in the evolution of building design


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework 1 Annotated portfolio in the form of a Sketchbook of Building-Character Drawings made during site visits. A min of 3 buildings/structures to be sketched & key elements identified & annotated. (2000 words) 50%

Assessments may differ in 2020/21 due to adjustments for Covid-19. Please check Gateway for the latest regulations.

Key texts

Key texts

Supporting Texts


  • Clifton-Taylor, A. & Simmons J. (ed) (1987)   The Pattern Of English Building, Faber & Faber. (Various editions from 1962)
  • Feilden, B.: Conservation Of Historic Buildings Architectural Press 2003 (3rd Edition)
  • Historic England (2016)   Drawing for Understanding: Creating Interpretive Drawings of Historic Buildings


  • Hoskins, W.G. (2006) The Making of the English Landscape. London: Hodder & Stoughton Rippon, S. (2004). 
  • Historic Landscape Analysis: Deciphering the Countryside (CBA Practical Handbook).  York, Council for British Archaeology.  

Vernacular Buildings

  • Alcock, N. and Miles, D. (2013)   The medieval peasant house in Midland England.  Oxbow Books
  • Brunskill, R.W.  (2000)   Vernacular Architecture: An Illustrated Handbook (4th, fully revised edition).   London: Faber & Faber
  • Hill, M., Birch, S., and Lister, M. (1998) Cotswold Stone Homes – History Conservation Care, Sutton Publishing

Farm Buildings

  • Brunskill, R.W.  (2007)   Traditional Farm Buildings and Their Conservation (Vernacular Buildings)
  • Wade Martins, S. (2002)   The English Model Farm: Building the Agricultural Ideal, 1700-1914


Country Houses

  • Cannadine, D. and Musson J. (2018) The Country House: Past, Present, Future: Great Houses of the British Isles. 
  • Rizzoli Sobart, J. and Hann, A.  (2016) The Country House.  Historic England
  • Wilson, R. & Mackley, A:  (2000) Creating Paradise: The Building of the English Country House 1660 – 1880, Hambledon & London, 2000


  • Clarke, J., (2014) Early Steel Structures in London Buildings, Historic England.
  • Gormley, A.  (2010)  Images of Change: An archaeology of England’s contemporary landscape.  Historic England
  • Historic England (2015)   Tall Buildings: Historic England Advice Note 4
  • Leech, R.H. (2014)   The Town House in Medieval and Early Modern Bristol English Heritage
  • Pearson, L. (2016)   Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial Architecture Crowood Press Ltd

Architectural Periods

  • Green A. (2018) Art Deco (Britain's Heritage Series)
  • Harwood E and O. Davies, J.,  (2015) England's Post-War Listed Buildings
  • Pearson, L. (2016)   Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial
  • Stevens Curl, J. (2011)   Georgian Architecture in the British Isles
  • Yorke T. (Various) several books covering different periods in the Living History series called  “…..Houses Explained”
  • Yorke T. (2008)   British Architectural Styles: An Easy Reference Guide, Countryside Books 

The Pevsner Architectural Guides – These cover practically the whole country and are being extensively rewritten but whatever the edition they do provide a useful initial guide to a regions architectural history.  You will gain more from this module if you obtain the guide for where you live or for an area which you regularly visit and do some local exploring or “Pevsnering”.

E.g. Pevenser, N.  (2002)  Pevsner Architectural Guide: Suffolk (Revised 2nd Edition).  Yale & London: Yale University Press