Six Great Architects of the Italian Renaissance


The Renaissance saw a move from the medieval master mason to architect, often not trained in building but having the breadth, education and versatility of the 'Renaissance man'.

Brunelleschi shows us how this move from medieval to  Renaissance architecture took place, as he simultaneously completed the crowning dome of Florence’s Gothic cathedral. Drawing on his study of ancient Rome, he produced the simple proportions of his remarkable new building designs.

Alberti’s writings on art and architecture demonstrate how this new Renaissance thinking worked. Bramante’s dramatic design of 1506 for the new St Peter’s, commissioned by Pope Julius II, was not to be fully realised, but Christopher Wren used his ideas, beautifully drawn in Serlio’s books on architecture, in his design of St Paul’s in London. The remarkable piazza setting of the Doge’s Palace and Basilica in Venice owe much to the buildings produced by Jacopo Sansovino, who started his career in Venice by rescuing the failing domes on the Basilica of San Marco, and went on to become the dominant architect of the city in the mid 1500s. Had Michelangelo never picked up a chisel or a paint brush, he would still rank as one of the greatest Renaissance architects, working in Florence and Rome and driving forward his own design for St Peter’s into his seventies. In Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture his beautiful woodcut drawings combine with beguiling text aimed at noble commissioners of his palazzo and villa designs. 

It is easy to see why English figures from Inigo Jones to Lord Burlington toured Italy to see these buildings first hand, and why the Palladian style took such a hold in eighteenth century England.

Programme details

Courses starts: 25 Jan 2023

Week 1:  Filippo Brunelleschi – the birth of Renaissance architecture

Week 2:  Leon Battista Alberti – architect and Renaissance man

Week 3:  Donato Bramante – the High Renaissance and St Peter’s

Week 4:  Jacopo Sansovino – dominance in sixteenth century Venice

Week 5:  Michelangelo – San Lorenzo in Florence and St Peter’s in Rome  

Week 6:  Andrea Palladio – palazzi, villas, churches and his Four Books of Architecture


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 £151.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Mr Keith Hasted

Keith's initial research focus was Italian Renaissance palace architecture, and he has since developed a special interest in the architecture of cathedrals, not only in England but also in mainland Europe. He has taught courses over a number of years in the OUDCE weekly programme and Summer School and for the WEA.

Course aims

To enable course members to investigate the architectural work of leading Italian Renaissance architects, particularly in the context of their work in other fields such as painting and sculpture.

Course Objectives: 

To explore and recognise from key examples the design work of some of the great architects of the Italian Renaissance.

To consider what interplay there was between architectural design and earlier skills acquired by these architects.

Teaching methods

Weekly lectures with visual images

Weekly classroom discussions

Illustrated notes provided each week

Learning outcomes

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

be able to assess the built work of these architects in relation to the overall development of architectural style in Renaissance Italy

to be able to relate the development of their architecture to their early training and experience in other fields such as painting or sculpture  

to understand the importance of the relationship between patron and architect  

Assessment methods

Course members are invited to prepare an assignment as a short essay of no more than around 750 words. Alternatively a small number of shorter pieces of equivalent length in total 750 words - can be prepared.

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

No prior knowledge is required for this course save for an enthusiasm for the subject.

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)