English Landscape Gardens: 1650 to the Present Day (Online)
This course is the ideal introduction to English garden history. It provides an overview of five centuries of development, from Baroque formalism through the naturalistic landscape style, right up to contemporary cutting-edge planting style. The course was written by Tim Richardson, an independent garden historian and landscape critic. Tim writes regularly for newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and Country Life, and is the author of nine books on garden and landscape subjects. He is a trustee of the Garden History Society and a member of the gardens advisory panel of the National Trust.
The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called the landscape garden Britain's major contribution to the visual arts, and this course aims to explore why and how that came to be so. Beginning in the mid 17th century, when grand gardens were laid out in formal style, the course traces the development of garden style across five centuries. There is special emphasis on the early-18th-century landscape garden, as perhaps the high-point, when politics, art, science, philosophy and gardening intersected in an unprecedented way. Later in the century Capability Brown made the style his own, creating a landscape monopoly across Britain, before Humphry Repton brought back an element of formality in the Regency period. The 19th century witnessed the apogee of the head gardener and the creation of the first public parks, while new plant introductions from China and elsewhere provided new impetus to horticulture.
The 20th century was one of the richest periods in English garden history and will be fully explored here. Gertrude Jekyll pioneered the colour-themed herbaceous border and her partnership with architect Edwin Lutyens created what is often seen as the perfect stylistic union between house and garden. The story is brought right up to date with modules on 20th-century planting theory and contemporary art or sculpture gardens such as Little Sparta.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
Unit 1: Introduction
The Baroque background, 1650-1700
Unit 2: The Anglo-Dutch Gardens of the William and Mary period
Vanbrugh and Castle Howard
Charles Bridgeman, a 'transitional designer?
Unit 3: Queen Anne and Early Hanoverian Gardens, 1701-13
The rise of Palladianism
Lord Burlington and Chiswick House gardens
Unit 4: Whig and Tory landscape gardens, 1710-1730
Alexander Pope at Twickenham
New plants from foreign climes
William Kent at Chiswick and Rousham
Unit 5: The apogee of the English Landscape Garden
Stowe - The overall structure and the Elysian Fields
Other political gardens in Prince Frederick's cicle
Unit 6: Capability Brown versus the Picturesque
Key works by Brown Brown's contemporaries: Woods, Emes and co
Unit 7: Humphry Repton and Regency gardening
The gardens at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Sheringham, Norfolk, as the apogee
Unit 8: Victorian gardening J.C.Loudon and the 'gardenesque'
Carpet bedding and the rise of the public park
The impact of new plant introductions
Unit 9: Gertrude Jekyll and Arts and Crafts
The partnership between Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens
William Robinson and the wild garden
Unit 10: Gardens in the later 20th Century
Development of the herbaceous tradition
Colour theory reaches its climax and is superseded by New Perennials in the late 1990s
The impact (or otherwise) of Modernism Key late-century gardens by Jarman, Jencks, Strong
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following texts:
- Richardson, T., The Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden (Bantam Press, 2007)
- Uglow, Jenny, A Little History of British Gardening (Pimlico, 2005)
Students will also be encouraged to use a large number of websites dedicated to individual gardens which are open to the public today.
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. 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.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
EU Fee: £270.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Dr Barbara Simms
To provide an overview and introduction to English garden history, with special emphasis on the 18th-century landscape garden and on the 20th century.
1. To understand the trajectory of English landscape history from formalism to increasing naturalism.
2. To trace the development of garden style across five centuries.
3. To gain an understanding of how textual and other sources can be complemented by on-the-ground study of gardens and landscape.
1. Guided reading of documents and of visual sources such as garden plans
2. Research topics with student feedback
3. Discussion sessions
4. Set questions on primary materials
5. Questions to be answered in personal folders
By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:
1. The ability to examine texts and visual sources with some discrimination as to their reliability.
2. An understanding of the importance of the wider cultural and political context of garden-making.
3. An appreciation that gardens are not just about plants or vice versa.
4. An appreciation of the importance of using both archival materials and books, as well as on-the-ground visits to gardens.
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support