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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF1047 The English Country House: Making and Meaning

20 creditsClass Size: 35

Module manager: Dr Kerry Bristol

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Country houses are one of Britain’s greatest contributions to world culture, but who created them and why? Have they always functioned as ‘containers’ for art collections or have they had deeper meanings and a wider social impact? Using Yorkshire’s world-class country houses as case studies, this module will introduce you to the builders of the country house; the often difficult relationship between patron and architect; the ‘upstairs’ lives of the men, women and children who lived in the country house and the ‘downstairs’ world of the men and women who served them; and the allied arts of interior design and decoration. Particular emphasis will be placed on the transformation of the country house into a ‘curated’ heritage site in the twentieth century and the growth of heritage organisations such as the National Trust.


This module aims to familiarise students with the architecture of the English country house between the sixteenth and twenty first centuries, particularly that of local country houses such as Temple Newsam, Harewood House and Lotherton Hall; the role of country houses as tourist attractions/museums; the ways in which curatorial methods have developed since World War II; and the different approaches architectural historians have taken when writing about country houses.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should:
1. be familiar with what a country house was (and is) through gaining an understanding of the themes and methodologies of architectural history and the different approaches authors have taken when writing about the country house;
2. be able to ‘read’ the plan and façade of selected country houses;
3. be able to assess the different curatorial approaches taken when presenting the country house as a museum
4. develop an ability to use country houses in the Leeds area as examples in class discussions, essays, seminar papers or exams.


In this module we will analyse the country house visually and consider its functions and purposes by observing the links between architectural forms, social functions and cultural meanings. We will consider the idea of the country house as a museum and explore the ways in which the country house affects our understanding of museums and how we study them today. Through engagement with, and study of, a number of local country houses students will explore the architectural development and social and cultural history of the English country house; the role of the country house in our understanding of national, class and gender identity; how the country house acts as a metaphor by addressing how it has been represented over the years in literature and the media; and the country house in relation to the museum and museum studies.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

180 hours comprised of weekly reading, seminar presentation preparation, researching and writing two essays.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Oral presentation, participation in class discussion

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 X 1,000-1,500 word essay50.00
Essay1 x 1,500-2,000 word essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:22:36


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