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What Gardens Tell us about Culture


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Honours College Humanities Lab.
Students in the first year of their bachelor’s programme who achieve good academic results and are very motivated, may apply for a place in Humanities Lab.


Gardens are strange yet ultimately useful things. What purposes do they serve humans? This course aims to find answer to this question through tapping into a variety of disciplines, but always from a Humanities’ perspective: art history, history, literature, ecocritiscism, landscape studies, philosophy. Definitions and functions of gardens differ between cultures and between ages. As such, they provide an insightful tool to think about ourselves and our surroundings.
Students will explore different understandings of what gardens are and do, through literature study and discussions as well as hands-on assignments and excursions in the outside, at times with guest instructors of different backgrounds (including a prize-winning artist/horticulturist). The six sessions build up to preparation of the final assignment: the design of a university garden.

Course objectives

  1. Familiarize students with different theoretical approaches to cultural concepts related to gardens, both inside and outside the Humanities.
  2. Introduce students to key problems in different approaches to gardens.
  3. Students acquire and/or train the following transferable skills:
  • Analysing

  • Project-based working

  • Collaboration

  • Presentation

  • Societal awareness

  • Independent learning


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

Assessment method


  • paper(s)/assignment(s) (50%)

  • participation (30%)

  • presentation(s) (20%)


As shown above


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursions, etc.). If you are unable to attend, notify the lecturer (listed in the information bar on the right) in advance. Being absent may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.


If the final grade is insufficient, students are offered a new opportunity to do the final paper/assignment.

Inspection and feedback

Oral and written feedback on presentations. Written feedback on final paper/assignment.

Reading list

To follow


Students participating in this module will be enrolled in MyStudymap by the Education Administration Office of Humanities Lab. Students can register for the Humanities Lab modules about two to three weeks before the start of the module through an online form provided by Umail. On this form students indicate the modules in order of their preference. The coordinators assign students to a module based on their preference and bachelor’s programme, in order to create a diverse group of students and equal amount of students per module Usually students get assigned to the module of their first or second choice.
General information about MyStudymap is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


This course is part of the Humanities Lab programme, visit the website for more information.
Visit the Honours Academy website for more information about the Honours College.