nl en

Approaches to the Built Environment and Cultural Landscapes: Methods and Theory


Admission requirements



Objects are central to discussions about their connections to socio-economic and political aspects of society. The built environment and especially the processes involved in building itself in its surroundings, however, are less often considered in such terms, nor is it often seen in relation to the concept of cultural landscapes.

This course focuses on current themes, analytical methods and theoretical considerations which investigate a wide regional and chronological array of architectural and landscape-based case studies with a strong focus in the East Mediterranean.
The aim is to expose to and stimulate the students into ongoing debates about both architectural and landscape phenomena that bring the two together as an undividable unit in which people (in the past) played a central role in the genesis of these phenomena and themselves: “people make places but places make people”.

The case studies range from monumental to domestic and experimental constructions, their interiors, and their processes of becoming, and will be placed in their landscapes and ‘taskscapes’, whether urban or rural.
The course will also show that each of these constructions and taskscapes are not isolated dots on maps but integrated in wider systems of both natural and human interactions in a given context.
The course comprises a component of fieldwork in urban contexts.

Course objectives

  • To provide insight into the various research questions that can be asked regarding the meaning of material culture of the built environment and its surroundings for past societies;

  • To make students familiar with the types of physical and social processes inherent to the built environment and its surroundings;

  • To make the students familiar with the various theoretical concepts that are important in material culture studies of the built environment and its surroundings;

  • To illustrate the applicability of the theoretical and methodological approaches to wider contexts;

  • To be able to carry out small research tasks in given contexts, to present them, and to write a short research paper on topics from the course;

  • To be able to recognise the importance of the skills learnt as vital beyond their study: analyse and discuss complex data, present them in public, carry out in teams and as individuals their own (guided) research, write effectively about given tasks and research.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Recognise the built environment and its surroundings as a socio-economic player in its context;

  • Recognise building processes from a material, technological and socially interwoven perspective;

  • Discuss theoretical and methodological approaches concerning the built environment and its surroundings in a critical manner;

  • Investigate their own case study related to the central themes of the course, by applying current methods and theoretical concepts;

  • Test these findings in the local surroundings through an urban fieldwork component;

  • Present the results of their work in class and through their paper.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Presentations and discussions;

  • Urban fieldwork component.

Assessment method

  • Paper (40%);

  • Presentation and fieldwork component (40%);

  • Class attendance and participation (20%).

There will be one final result and the average of the parts will be taken as a pass. There will be no retake for the paper. If the oral presentation is a fail, this needs to be compensated by the paper.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Reading list

To be announced in advance on Brightspace.


For lectures, tutorials, and exams, enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.
You are also required to confirm your exam in MyStudymap. No confirmation = no participation!

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. A.N. (Ann) Brysbaert.


Compulsory attendance.