Architecture in the Landscape Garden


Using a broad definition of what has become known as the landscape garden, we will explore the design of 'hard' elements like bridges, temples, arches, grottoes and follies within the wider context of architecture over the centuries. Beginning with the Neolithic period, we progress through the classical world of Greece and Rome into the Renaissance, examining different approaches to and meanings of buildings and monuments designed to be viewed within a landscape or historical garden. The formal geometry of Baroque gardens surrounding palaces like Versailles, for example, will be contrasted with the so-called ‘English garden’, where the intent was to create an illusion of perfected nature.

Students will be encouraged to consider the aesthetic impact of architectural elements within gardens as a whole, whether an enclosed, urban garden or a far-ranging landscape, and we will look at the challenges involved in preserving and interpreting historic gardens and landscapes. There will be a visit to gardens in Oxford.

Programme details

Courses starts: 26 Jan 2023

Week 1:  Introduction to the course; Architecture in Landscape:  the Neolithic period and its legacy

Week 2:  The idea of Arcadia in the classical world, from Greek sanctuaries to Roman gardens

Week 3:  Medieval and Renaissance Gardens:  symbolism and pattern books for design

Week 4:  The Development of the Baroque Garden, from Versailles to Stowe

Week 5:  The English response:  William Kent, the beauty of Nature and the serpentine line

Week 6:  Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and the English landscape garden 

Week 7:  The ‘English garden’ in Europe and Prince Franz von Anhalt at Wörlitz in Germany 

Week 8:  Class visit to Oxford Botanic Garden and Worcester College 

Week 9:  The garden in the city, from Regents’ Park, London to Central Park, New York

Week 10:  The landscape garden in the twentieth century


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.


Description Costs
Course Fee £238.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Megan Aldrich

Since 2016 Megan Aldrich has been an independent scholar working in the fields of architectural and design history, with a particular interest in historicism and interiors. Recent publications include Antiquaries and Archaists (2009); Art and Authenticity (2012); Thomas Rickman and the Victorians (2019); and articles in Garden History (2016), Furniture History (2020), and the Cultural History of Furniture (2022). She is Hon. Editorial Secretary of the Furniture History Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries .

Course aims

To give students the confidence to identify and analyse the architectural elements of a landscape garden.

Course Objectives:

This course will enable students to:

1. feel confident in viewing architectural monuments in gardens;

2. develop an historical understanding of monuments and structures in gardens;

3. analyse garden monuments and structures in terms of their stylistic context, linking them to the broader European tradition of architecture.

Teaching methods

There will be weekly lectures during the first hour of class, followed by a less formal seminar each week in order to review and expand points made in the lecture, and to encourage class discussion. Students will be encouraged to analyse visually, as well as to engage with the broader historical context of the periods covered each week.

In Week 8 there will be a class visit to look at 'live' gardens and their architectural elements and test students' powers of observation in preparation for writing the final paper.



Learning outcomes

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

1. the importance of the classical tradition and the idea of Arcadia in European gardens;

2. the links between garden design and fine art;

3. the links between garden design and literature, including travel literature;

4. the relationship of the landscape garden to mainstream European architectural and design history.


Assessment methods

There will be a formative exercise due in Week 4, and a final written paper due at the end of the course. Instructions will be given out at the first session. 

The formative piece will sharpen students' powers of observation concerning the relationship between built elements and natural features in gardens. 

The final paper will be an analysis of architectural elements within a garden or landscape of the students' choosing.

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 application form.

Level and demands

There is no pre-requisite for joining this course; however, some prior knowledge or experience of architecture would be helpful. An interest in the topic is essential!

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)