Andalucía: Its Art, Architecture, and Cultural History, c.750-1550


A comprehensive introduction and historical framework to the rich, diverse artistic, architectural, and cultural legacy of Andalucía, Spain's most southerly region, produced between about 750 and 1550 CE, but with reference to its more ancient history, which was repeatedly drawn on and referred back to during those 800 years.

Andalucía's complex cultural past, with its periods of religious conflict and co-existence of the three Abrahamic religions, and multiple, cross-cultural, artistic influences (including the Maghreb, the Near Middle East, and other parts of the Mediterranean Basin), have left its major cities of Córdoba, Granada, and Seville with many iconic, beguilingly beautiful buildings and artefacts. This course will critically engage with the art, architecture, and cultural history of each of dynasties that ruled the region, then known as al-Andalus, from the eighth to the mid-sixteenth century. These dynasties include the Umayyad, who originally came from Damascus in Syria, the Almoravid and Almohad, who came from the Maghreb (in what is modern-day Morocco, Algiers, and Tunisia), and the Nasrid, whose origins are more obscure, but whose art and architecture developed the styles and decorative motifs of their predecessors in al-Andalus, leaving us with what is today Spain’s most visited monument, the Alhambra in Granada. The intriguing art and architecture of Andalucía produced in the period from the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, taking control of Granada in 1492 to the death of Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain) in 1558, will also be explored. Also studied will be the complex, at times problematic, and oft-repeated, but frequently little understood, terms: Mudéjar, Convivencia, and Reconquista.

The course will study in detail the great Mesquita in Córdoba, the palatine cities of Madinat al-Zahra' (lost for centuries and only in recent years giving up its treasures), and the famous Alhambra palaces and Generalife gardens in Granada, and, in Seville, the Real Alcázar (still the official residence of Spain’s monarchs) and the so-called Casa de Pilatos (the city’s best-preserved Mudéjar palace), as well as highlighting lesser known sites, such as Baeza, Úbeda, and La Calahorra. Each week’s lectures will be extremely well illustrated, and will make wide-ranging use of literature as near contemporaneous as possible with each of the periods considered, the tutor’s extensive archival and on-site research, and many significant scholarly works, including the very latest academic studies (all quotes and excerpts used will be translated into English).

Programme details

Courses starts:  28 May 2024

Week 1:  Introducing Andalucía: Arts, Architecture, and Ancient History

Week 2:  Córdoba: the Umayyad, the Mesquita, and Madinat al-Zahra

Week 3:  Almoravid and Almohad Al-Andalus, Convivencia and [Re]Conquista

Week 4:  Granada: the Nasrid, the Alhambra: Construction, Survival, Decline, Revival 

Week 5:  Musing on the Mudéjar and Renaissance Art and Architecture in Andalucía

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend at least 80% of the classes on the course and pass your final assignment. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.


Description Costs
Course Fee £140.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Philippa Joseph

Dr Philippa Joseph is an art, architecture, and design historian, whose research covers artistic and cultural exchange across Europe and the rest of the Mediterranean basin, especially between Andalucía and Sicily, and with the Maghreb and the Near Middle East. Dr Joseph also has an academic interest in twentieth-century Italian design and society. In addition to teaching at OUDCE, Dr Joseph is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London), a lecturer for Martin Randall Travel in Italy and Spain, a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of History Today, and enjoys giving public lectures to local history groups and societies. 

Course aims

To provide a comprehensive introduction to the major works of art and architecture of Andalucía produced between about 750 and 1550 CE.

Course Objectives:

  • Study the key works of art and architecture of Andalucía, from about 750 to 1550 CE.
  • Outline what is distinct and most important about the cultural production of each city and period in Andalucía's history within this time frame.
  • Provide an intellectual framework and historical context for understanding the artistic and architectural legacy of Andalucía.

Teaching methods

Each week there will be two or three highly-illustrated, well-referenced lectures, on related topics, each of between 20 to 40 minutes' duration, followed by group discussion and questions.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • understand and distinguish the key factors and periods of Andalucía's cultural history;
  • recognize and be able to interpret some of Andalucía's most famous buildings and artefacts;
  • have developed an appreciation of what makes Andalucía's artistic and architectural legacy particularly important and its influence on the artistic development of other cultures.

Assessment methods

A short formative piece, outlining an intended summative assignment (250 words), followed by a book review, critical visual analysis of a building or work of art, or an ekphrasis (750 words), that develops the ideas outlined in the initial formative piece.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

This will be an introductory course, for which no prior knowledge of the subject will be required.

Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)