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 discussion of gardens in Oxford.

Programme details

Course starts: 17 April 2024

Week 0: Course orientation

Week 1: Introduction to the course:  the Neolithic period and its legacy in the landscape

Week 2: The idea of Arcadia in the classical world; Paradise gardens in Medieval and Renaissance gardens

Week 3: From the Italian Renaissance to the French Baroque at Versailles

Week 4: English Baroque Gardens from Vanbrugh to Bridgeman

Week 5: 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 Saxony 

Week 8: The Picturesque and Oxford:  Worcester College and Magdalen College gardens

Week 9: The nineteenth century from the Late Picturesque to the Gardenesque

Week 10: The twentieth century from the Arts and Crafts to Postmodern gardens

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend and participate in at least 80% of the live sessions 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 £257.00
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 Megan Aldrich


Megan Aldrich is an independent scholar who lectures and writes about aspects of architectural and design history. Recent publications include Art and Authenticity (Lund Humphries, 2012); Thomas Rickman and the Victorians (Victorian Society, 2019); and articles in Garden History (2016), Furniture History (2018, 2020), the Cultural History of Color (Bloomsbury, 2021), and the Cultural History of Furniture (Bloomsbury, 2022). She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Hon. Editorial Secretary to the Furniture History Society.

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:

  • feel confident when approaching architectural monuments in gardens;
  • develop an historical understanding of monuments and structures in gardens;
  • analyse the stylistic context for garden monuments and structures, linking them to the broader European tradition of architecture.

Teaching methods

There will be pre-recorded lectures each week in order to create the structure of this course;  the lectures will be supplemented by a Teams seminar each week in order to review and expand points made in the lecture, as well as to encourage class discussion.  Throughout this course, students will be encouraged to analyse visually, and to engage with the broader historical context of the periods covered each week.

Learning outcomes

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

  • the importance of the classical tradition and the idea of Arcadia in European gardens;
  • the links between garden design and fine art;
  • the links between garden design and literature, including travel literature;
  • 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


We will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

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

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!

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)