apply now (oct 2021) 


The University of London’s MA in Garden and Landscape History is a unique programme that brings together history, horticulture, architecture, and archaeology to develop students’ appreciation of garden history as a cultural discipline.

Students who cannot commit to a full MA can take modules 1 and 2 from this course to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Garden and Landscape History. Credits gained from this course 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.

Contact the institute

If you have specific questions about this degree, please make an enquiry.


register your interest Download brochure Make an enquiry

Modules and structure

Students must complete core module 1, core module 2 (selecting two options from the four provided). The modules selected are taken from those on offer on the MA programme. The course is examined as follows:

Module 1 (autumn term): Theory and Practice in Garden and Landscape History (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. A key aspect of module 1 is the opportunity to consider in detail theoretical concepts underpinning garden history and their practical application in the present day. Students will be expected to make themselves familiar with the timeline of garden design history by studying recommended texts and to prepare for each session by advance reading to enable full participation in discussion. Sessions include:


  • Resources for garden restoration (Hampton Court)
  • Conservation theory and practice
  • Italian Renaissance philosophy and garden design
  • Sustainability and contemporary garden and planting design
  • Politics and gardens
  • Picturesque theory
  • Visits to the National Archives, RHS Lindley Library and the Garden Museum Archives

This module is assessed by a 1,500-word essay on a conceptual issue (e.g. sustainability, conservation or picturesque theory) plus a 5,000-word report on the history of a garden chosen by the student.

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

This module consists of four optional units; students choose two.

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

This module addresses historiography, theory, and the connection between culture and politics in landscape-making. Students will expand skills developed in the first term by considering gardens and landscapes across regional boundaries.

Representative topics include 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, including the approaches of William Robinson and Reginald Blomfield in Britain; gender and garden-making; and the shifting boundaries between architect, landscape architect, and plantsman relating to the status of those designing gardens and landscapes in the twenty-first century.

Students choose one unit from each group:

Group A

  • Evolution of the English garden in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
  • Eighteenth-century gardens

Group B

  • Nineteenth-century gardens
  • Gardens of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries

Please note that optional units are subject to change and depend on a minimum number of students expressing an interest. Please consider the list above a guide only.

This module is assessed by two 5,000-word essays (one on each of the options taken) plus a 1,500-word dissertation proposal.

About the institute

Founded in 1921, the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) is at the centre of the study of academic history. It provides a stimulating research environment supported by the IHR’s two research centres: the Centre for Metropolitan History and the Victoria County History. It is home to an outstanding open access library, hosts events and seminars, has a dedicated programme of research training, and is at the forefront of developing a range of digital resources for historians. The Institute is a member institute of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement would be a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a recognised university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard (for example a grade-point-average of 3.0 or higher).

Applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience, could be considered.

Find out more about our entry requirements

How to apply

apply now (oct 2021) 

For more information on how to apply, including deadlines and the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, visit our How to Apply page.

Fees, funding and scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees here.

The School of Advanced Study offers a range of funding opportunities for home, EU, and international applicants. Find out more about funding opportunities here. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.


The School of Advanced Study is a unique environment in which to study the humanities.  The School strives to reflect the latest developments in thinking across the humanities disciplines it supports and to ensure that its programmes reflect this.  We are also aware that the needs of our students are constantly changing.  With that in mind, the School continually reviews its programmes and, as part of that process, reserves the right to alter or discontinue them.

Please note that this programme will no longer be offered effective Autumn 2020.

This programme will no longer be offered as the School of Advanced Study seeks to refocus and revisit its programme offerings for the future. We are hoping to review our current programmes and thus offer a portfolio of programmes that have been modified and considered in relation to current applicant and industry needs.