The MA in Garden and Landscape History brings together the disciplines of history, horticulture, architecture, and archaeology to help students gain an appreciation of the study of garden history as a cultural discipline.

Students learn how to distinguish different types of garden-making over time and in different countries, from the sixteenth century to the present day in Britain, Europe and America. 

The programme emphasises design and management, ownership and the cultural contexts of gardens and landscapes. Students learn a range of research and writing skills. Teaching is provided by the Institute of Historical Research, with a strong emphasis on tutor-student interaction in class. The programme features visits to gardens throughout London, along with practical sessions at museums and libraries. Students can participate in an optional field trip to Italy in the spring.


Course Structure

The programme can be completed in one year (full time) or two years (part time).

Teaching takes place on Thursdays from 10:00 to 17:00 and is divided between two terms. The third term is dedicated to writing the dissertation.  

Students must complete core module 1, core module 2 (selecting three options from the six provided) and core module 3 (a 15,000-word dissertation) to be awarded the MA. However, there are a range of options available for flexible study.

  • Those wishing to pursue this course on a part-time basis can complete modules 1 and 2 (the taught elements) in their first year and module 3, the dissertation, in their second year
  • Module 1 can be undertaken as a stand-alone unit leading to a PGCert; modules 1 and 2 can be taken as stand-alone units leading to a PGDip. In either of the options, the credits can be banked should the student wish to complete the MA at a later date (within a prescribed time frame). Please enquire for further details. 



    Module 1: Researching Garden History | autumn term (60 credits)

    The first term will showcase the huge variety of resources available to study garden and landscape history from archaeology, architecture, cartography, horticulture, manuscripts, paintings and other works of art, from the sixteenth century to the present day.

    Sessions include:

    • Early maps of gardens (British Library)
    • Garden archaeology (Hampton Court)
    • Gardens and architecture referencing drawings collections at the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Victoria and Albert Museum
    • The Italian Renaissance and English gardens
    • The eighteenth-century garden, with visit to Chiswick House
    • Gardening and photographic images

    This module is assessed by a 5,000 word report on the history of a garden chosen by the student and an accompanying presentation.

    Module 2: Culture and Politics of Gardens | spring term (60 credits)

    This module consists of six optional units of which students must choose three. 
    These sessions aim to:

    • Develop students’ knowledge and understanding of gardens and landscapes in different countries
    • Develop students’ critical analysis and judgement
    • Demonstrate the importance of context and the relationship of garden and landscape history to other disciplines such as literature, social history, film and visual media, and the history of ideas

    The module will look at historiography, theory, the connection between culture and politics in landscape-making and the expansion of the skills of term one across 
    regional boundaries.

    For instance, the influence in Britain of the Italian Renaissance’s new ideas on garden making, including architecture, sculpture and hydraulic engineering; iconography in gardens and landscapes; formality in garden-making as an indicator of the power of the owner, from the sixteenth century onwards, as in France; different aspects of the ‘natural’ garden from the eighteenth century onwards; conflict between the ‘natural’ and the formal in the nineteenth century between William Robinson and Reginald Blomfield in Britain; gender and garden making; and shifting boundaries between architect, landscape architect and plantsman relating to the status of those designing gardens and landscapes in the 21st century.

    Students will choose one unit from each group:

    Group A: French gardens of the seventeenth century or the evolution of the English garden in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
    Group B: The eighteenth-century garden or Nineteenth-century gardens
    Group C: The suburban garden in England between the wars or Twentieth- and twenty-first-century gardens

    Please note: optional units are subject to change and depend on a minimum number of students expressing an interest. Please consider this a guide only.

    This module is assessed by a 5,000 word essay on one of the three options taken, and an assessed student presentation. For students completing module 3, a written proposal for the dissertation should also be submitted.

    Module 3: Supervised Dissertation of 15,000 words (60 credits)


    Mode of Study

    The programme is designed to be completed over one year (full time) or two years (part time).

    The programme is modular; to earn the MA, students must complete modules 1 and 2 plus a dissertation of 15,000 words. The Institute welcomes applications from part-time students and has ensured that the degree is accessible to those who are working and/or able to study only part time.

    All teaching of the core modules is done on a single day of the week, and supervision for the dissertation can be arranged to suit the student’s schedule.

    Students who successfully complete the course are awarded their degree from the University of London.


    Why the IHR?

    • Specialist provider of history programmes 
    • Tuition and research supervision by leading historians 
    • Small-group teaching 
    • Access to a dedicated history research library 


    • Prime location in Bloomsbury in central London with close proximity to the British Museum, British Library, Theatreland, the restaurants of Fitzrovia and shopping in Oxford and Regent Streets 
    • Central London transport links make us easy to reach 
    • The Institute is located in the University of London’s Senate House within walking distance of other Colleges of the Federation (e.g., SOAS, Birkbeck, UCL, Institute of Education) 


    • The IHR is housed in its own building, comprising its library, teaching space, research training room and the IHR common room 
    • The IHR Library has more than 180,000 history books and periodicals, including a wide range of material
    • Free access to the University of London’s Senate House Library with more than one million books 
    • Join us for a huge range of weekly events celebrating history in both the IHR and the School of Advanced Study 
    • Enjoy the largest programme of history seminars in the UK
    • Extend your learning by undertaking one of our numerous specialist history research training programmes 
    • Take advantage of the IHR’s unique position at the forefront of digital and online resources in history 
    • Be supported by the School of Advanced Study’s student support services 
    • Seek assistance with career advice and guidance from the University of London’s specialist careers support service 
    • Use Student Central (formerly the University of London’s Union) with the latest sports facilities 
    • Work alongside two of the most well-established research centres in historical research – the Centre for Metropolitan History and the Victoria County History 


    Qualifcation Mode Duration Fees Apply
    MA Full-time 12 months
    Full time

    Home/EU: £6,430
    Overseas: £14,900 

    Part time

    Home/EU: £3,545 

    Apply now

    PGDip Full-time 1 module
    Full time

    Home/EU: £4,285

    Part time

    Home/EU: £2,360

    Apply now

    PGCert Full-time 1 module
    Full time

    Home/EU: £2,140

    Part time

    Home/EU: £1,185

    Apply now