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London: Places, Objects, Ideas


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 3
  • Convenor: Professor Kate Retford
  • Assessment: a 250-word note-taking exercise (0%), 750-word analysis of an image/object/site (30%) and 1000-word essay (70%)

Module description

In this module we introduce you to the disciplines of history, classics, philosophy, history of art and archaeology.

Each week will focus on a particular site or object in London. You will be encouraged to visit the subject of study, and set readings as well as online resources such as videos will also be made available. The sites and objects featured vary from the Foundling Museum to the Tower of London World Heritage Site, and from Ancient Greek remains in Bloomsbury to Jeremy Bentham’s Auto-Icon, housed at UCL.

Staff from across the School of Historical Studies will lead the discussion each week, so that you will get to meet and work with at least one academic from the area of your degree. However, each session will interweave subject areas, in order to introduce key skills and ideas relevant across these disciplines.

Through deepening knowledge and understanding of the city of London, you will therefore be able to explore how the same object or site can be approached, researched and understood in various ways.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction
  • Italian radical networks in Soho (History)
  • Jeremy Bentham’s Auto-Icon in the UCL Student Centre (Philosophy)
  • Ancient Greece in Bloomsbury (Classics)
  • The ethics of the collection and display of human remains at the Hunterian Museum (History of Art)
  • The Tower of London World Heritage Site (Archaeology)
  • The Foundling Museum (History)
  • Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery (Philosophy)
  • Thames and empire (History)
  • John Locke and David Hume portraits at the National Portrait Gallery (History of Art)

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand the breadth of London’s history and culture
  • analyse the weekly topics from an academic perspective
  • differentiate between the five disciplines making up the School of Historical Studies, but also work across disciplines to analyse objects, texts and ideas
  • demonstrate basic skills in academic reasoning
  • work independently in your learning, specifically searching out further information about the weekly topics to develop personal knowledge and understanding.