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Unit of study_

MARC4201: Modern Architectural History

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit presents foundational knowledge concerning modern architecture in global context. It commences briefly with fundamental principles of the European Enlightenment as a means of discussing modern architecture's relationship to a number of external disciplinary fields including archaeology, biology, economics, history, landscape studies, and philosophy. Vital Enlightenment inquiries not only set the stage for historical debates about architecture but have also influenced contemporary questions about what constitutes architectural practice. Attitudes towards classical antiquity, art collections in museums, craft and industrialization, and building materials exemplified how architects have actively participated in creating intellectual discourse. Some principal qualities of modernism evident within the arts and sciences heralded historical contingencies, self-conscious agency, and the rise of technical developments. Architecture's enduring involvement with the modern sciences, in particular, has been conditioned by the shifting tensions existing between many polarizing pairings: empiricism and subjectivity, art and techne, representations and their models. Instead of employing a chronological structure, course readings are grouped into core areas of exposition. We will survey a range of topics on autonomy, class, construction, drawing, gender, nationalism, ornament, primitivism, science, technocracy, urbanism, and utopia to understand how the complexities of these issues have created frameworks for architectural historiography, theory, and design in a variety of cultural contexts. The Enlightenment influence over these issues engendered lasting modes of resistance against these canonical formations, which remain highly evident in colonial and post-colonial dialogues as well as post-industrial interventions. The intersection of architecture with external disciplines set the agenda for a global modernity spanning from the eighteenth century into the present moment.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MARC4201
Academic unit Architecture
Credit points 6
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Andrew Leach,
Tutor(s) Maren Koehler,
Mahroo Moosavi,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Illustrated Research Essay
Illustrated Research Essay (responding to a supplied archi-aphorism)
60% Mid-semester exam period
Due date: 19 Jun 2020 at 18:00
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Making Historical Narratives (10 slides, with captions)
10% Week 04
Due date: 22 Mar 2020 at 18:00
10 slides, annotated
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Short Response Essay
Written task, illustrated (one image per response)
30% Week 07
Due date: 10 Apr 2020 at 18:00
8 questions, 250 wds per response
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO2

Assessment summary

  • 10 Slides towards a Visual Argument: Taking prompts from the lecture programm, tutorial discussions and your own reading, prepare an annotated powerpoint presentation, with each slide including up to 100 words of text, including details of the image source. The powerpoint will make a brief visual argument pertaining to relationships within the history of modern architecture.
  • Short Response Essay: The second assessment will require you to formulate brief, justified responses to a series of questions that explore the content of the lectures, tutorials and reading program to date. There will be a total of 8 questions, each of which require a 250-word response, illustrated with a single image.
  • Illustrated Research Essay: A series of aphorisms will be supplied that will function as prompts for to explore a theme in the history of modern architecture. Illustrated and fully referenced essays of 3000 words (including all footnotes, no bibliography required) will formulate and argue a position using the tools and techniques of architectural history. Assignments must be original and not contain material previously submitted for any assessment in any course.

Detailed information for each assessment will be posted to Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical
analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis,
synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the
learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the
learning outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the
learning outcomes assessed.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Late penalties will be applied consistently with both published School policy and any formally adopted variations to this policy advised subsequent to the publication of this outline.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Course Introduction; Historicity and Modern Architecture Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 02 Architectural History: Foundations of the Modern Discipline; Architectural History as the Architect's Patrimony; the 1880s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 03 The Architect as an Artist; Architecture and Culture; the 1890s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 04 Architecture and Empirical Knowledge; the 1900s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 05 Organising the Past I: Style; Biography; the 1910s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 06 Organising the Past II: Geography and Culture Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 07 Organising the Past III: Type and Technique Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 08 The 1940s (short lecture followed by study skills clinic) Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 09 The 1950s (short lecture followed by study skills clinic) Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 10 How Useful?; the 1960s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 11 Theory Moment I; the 1970s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 12 Theory Moment II; the 1980s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 13 Future Directions in the History of Architecture; the 1990s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: The School’s requirement of 90% attendance is waived. Participation in this unit is required via online components.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Lectures each week will include coverage of the span of roughly one decade from the 1880s to the end of the twentieth century. There is no specific set of projects one needs to know, but these six surveys of modern architecture can offer further insights into the developments and cases discussed in the lectures. I encourage you to read widely, and at the very least to following the week-by-week development of our subject by supplementary reading in your preferred source. The books are as follows:


Cohen, Jean-Louis. The Future of Architecture since 1889. London: Phaidon, 2012.

Colquhoun, Alan. Modern Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Curtis, William J. R. Modern Architecture since 1900, 3rd ed. London: Phaidon, 1996. Orig. pub. 1982. 

Frampton, Kenneth. Modern Architecture: A Critical History, 4th ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 2007. Orig. pub. 1980. 

Tafuri, Manfredo and Francesco Dal Co. Modern Architecture, trans. Robert Erich Wolf. New York: Abrams, 1979. Orig. Ital. pub. 1976. 

Van Gerrewey, Christophe. Choosing Architecture: Criticism, History and Theory since the 19th Century. Laussane: EPFL Press, 2019. 


References will be supplied week-to-week in Canvas, following this pattern: Colquhoun 7: 137-57. This is chapter 7 of the source, running pp. 137-57.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. engage with architectural history/theory as a body of literature
  • LO2. think critically about issues posed by architectural examples
  • LO3. define your own independent research topic
  • LO4. demonstrate familiarity with traditional and digital methods of research
  • LO5. pose challenging questions of the assigned materials and of your peers
  • LO6. engage in academic scholarship and writing practices at a professional level.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Exam time was lengthened to accommodate student requests.

Additional costs

None. All books noted are available in the library. Availability will be limited by demand, though, so students may consider securing new or second-hand copies of selected sources to help maintain a regular reading schedule.

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