The Country House

MA, PGDip, PGCert, 2 years, by distance learning

This is for you if... you are fascinated by the English country house and the political, cultural and economic power it represents.

Course Description

This MA will provide you with a unique and wide-ranging introduction to the complex and ever-changing role of the country house in its local, regional and national environment. The course is taught by distance learning, so you can learn around your existing commitments in a way that suits you.

This fascinating course investigates the architectural development of the English country house and its artistic contents, as well as its place within history and literature. The course also examines the economic and political importance of the house and its impact on the landscape, plus the technologies employed to design, build and run it.

You will study a wide variety of subjects, including the architecture of great houses, their economic and political importance, their gardens and landscapes, the furniture within them, their collections, and their representation in literature and film. Throughout the programme, you will be introduced to skills of multi- and interdisciplinary study.

This course is ideal for those working or intending to work in the heritage industry, museums, auction houses or tourism. The MA is ideally suited to graduates in subjects such as History of Art and Architecture, Social and Economic History, or English Literature, as well as those who intend to undertake further MPhil or PhD research on the country house.

Our modular structure allows you to study on a module-by-module basis and therefore develop from a PG certificate to a PG Diploma to a full MA. The full Masters Degree (MA) takes two years of study, but it is possible to study for a shorter Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) instead. All three variants start with the mandatory module on 'The Country House in Art, Literature and History' which can also be taken as a stand-alone short course for interest and/or continuing professional development.

If you have any questions about this course, join us for a live online chat with academic tutors and admissions staff.

Key Facts
Start date
February each year
Department
History of Art and Film
Contact

Distance Learning Team
+44 (0)116 252 1364 or 2903 or 3454
Arts.HumsDL@le.ac.uk

Join us for a live online chat.

Centre for the Study of the Country House website

Why Leicester?

The University of Leicester is one of the UK's leading research and teaching universities, with more than 25 years' experience of offering high-quality distance learning courses.

All of our academic staff are actively involved in research and postgraduate supervision, meaning you will be taught by academics at the forefront of their discipline.

Our courses have been designed to be studied at a distance, giving you the flexibility to study within a structured and supportive framework from anywhere in the world. You can balance working towards a qualification with work or family commitments.

Course Structure

Module 1

Module 1

The Country House in Art, Literature, and History

You will begin your study of the country house with this core module looking at the evolution and function of such houses from the medieval development of the castle and courtyard house and the conversion of former monasteries to the present day.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the English landscape was studded with country houses that functioned as local power bases for noble and gentry families. We will consider the country house both as a functional institution within the rural landscape and as a monument of power: political, cultural, and economic. We will also discuss the place of the country house in its locality and how these houses projected their owners’ power and culture through their architectural and garden setting and the collections of works of art that they contained. In addition, we will look at the reasons for the decline of country houses in the twentieth century and how they are maintained today.

You can take this course as a full Masters, a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert). If you choose to do the PGDip, you will take all four option modules but you won't complete the dissertation. If you choose to the PGCert, you would take Module 1 and one further module of your choice.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Module 2

Module 2

Country House Architecture in Eighteenth-Century Britain

This module examines the country house in terms of design, architectural heritage, stylistic revolution, patronage, and setting. The role of gardens and their architectural elaboration, including follies, are also considered. We will look at houses such as Chatsworth, Houghton, Hopetoun and Holkham, as well as influential architects like William Kent, Robert Adam, and James Wyatt.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Module 3

Module 3

The Country House and its Landscapes

There is a tendency to separate the study of garden history from its architectural context. However, building and landscaping schemes were often contemporary and complementary, with innumerable connections made between house and grounds. Indeed, many of the significant names in garden history also practised as architects, and were accustomed to thinking of house and landscape as a unity.

This module will cover three main areas: the history of country house gardens, the ownership of country house gardens, and documenting and preserving gardens.

History of country house gardens

You will examine the history of the English landscape park and garden, alongside developments in the form and function of the country house. Beginning with the geometric layouts of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the module will move on to consider the challenges to this model posed by the more informal circuit designs of figures such as William Kent and the landscape parks of ‘Capability’ Brown. It will then trace the impact of the Picturesque on landscape design, before considering the legacy of Georgian garden design in the nineteenth century and beyond.

Ownership of country house gardens

While this part of the module will examine the work of significant individual designers such as Kent, Brown, Humphry Repton, John Claudius Loudon and Gertrude Jekyll, we will also seek to understand the country house and its landscapes in the context of the interests and motivations of those owners who paid for these ‘improvements’. We will discuss how what was, of course, private property came to be consumed by a wider constituency with the advent and growth of domestic tourism. Our history of the country house landscape will therefore be located in the context of broader social and economic trends, such as the relationship of garden and park design to conceptions of national identity, as well as the aesthetic principles formulated by poets, philosophers and gardeners.

Documenting and preserving gardens

We will also consider problems around the writing of garden history. As well as the landscapes themselves, we will consider the evaluation and relevance to garden history of evidence provided by contemporary maps, plans, paintings, poetry, travel writing, and theoretical treatises - and we will examine the issues raised by current attempts to restore, preserve and maintain the nation’s historic landscapes.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Module 4

Module 4

Furnishing the Country House in Eighteenth-Century Britain

This module introduces the field of furniture history and will equip you with the tools necessary to examine, analyse, and interpret country house furniture and furnishing schemes from the long eighteenth century. The first four units address thematic aspects, including the role of pattern books in promoting and disseminating fashionable styles and the use of woods and veneers. You will learn about furniture styles and schemes, including early eighteenth-century Classicism, Rococo, Chinoiserie, Gothic Revival, Neoclassicism, and Regency Revival. The final unit addresses antiquarian and Romantic furniture collections. When you have completed this module, you will be able to analyse the broad gamut of eighteenth-century furniture and furnishing schemes found in British country houses.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Dissertation

Dissertation

For a Masters Degree, you will undertake supervised research into a topic of your choice and complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

If you are studying for a PGDip or PGCert, you won't write a dissertation.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Additional Information

Key dates

Start date: 13 February 2017
Application deadline for February 2017: 9 January 2017

What's the difference?

You can take this course as a full Masters, a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert). If you choose to do the PGDip, you will take all four option modules but you won't complete the dissertation. If you choose to the PGCert, you would take Module 1 and one further module of your choice. 

If your dissertation concerns a science collection or museum, or if the nature of your investigation is 'scientific', you can receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree instead of a Master of Arts (MA) degree.

 

Teaching and Assessment

You will be provided with a Study Guide just before the start of each module, which explains the key issues and debates. The Study Guides include case studies, research questions, self-assessment exercises and guides to further reading. These printed module materials are supplemented with additional material made available electronically through Blackboard, our virtual learning environment, which will also be a source for discussion and guided debate with other students and your tutors.

The actual amount of study time required will vary from module to module, but as a general guide you should aim to set aside about 15 hours a week for your studies. There are short study breaks in between each module of approximately 2-3 weeks. You will study the modules one at a time. Each module runs for 15 weeks, with an additional 30 weeks for the dissertation.

You will be allocated an academic tutor for each module, who will be available to you to provide advice and guidance on academic and study matters. In addition, the Distance Learning team will be on hand as your first point of contact for any questions you might have about any aspect of the course.

All modules are assessed by one or two pieces of written coursework. There are no written exams.

Entry Requirements

2:1 degree or equivalent (GPA of 3 or higher for North American students) in any Arts or Humanities subject – including but not limited to: History, Art History, English Literature, Archaeology, Modern Languages, Museum Studies or Cultural Studies.

If you don't have a suitable degree but do have experience in a relevant field, such as some aspect of the ‘heritage industry’, you are also welcome to apply. You may be required to write a qualifying essay to demonstrate your ability to work with confidence at postgraduate level.

English Language Requirements

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability.

International Qualifications

Find your country in this list to check equivalent qualifications, scholarships and additional requirements.

Countries list

Fees and Funding

  • This is the total course fee. Please note that the fees for our distance learning courses are based on where you will be residing in the world during your studies.

    Starting in February 2017

    • MA: £7,805
    • PGDip: £5,200
    • PGCert: £2,600
    • Short course (one module): £1,290

    Find out more about how to pay and scholarships and funding.

    University of Leicester Graduate Scholarship: If you graduate from an undergraduate degree at the University of Leicester in 2016 you may be eligible for a 50% discount on your tuition fee.

    Did you know you can apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000, subject to eligibility? (MA only; not available for PGDip, PGCert or Short course)

     

  • This is the total course fee. Please note that the fees for our distance learning courses are based on where you will be residing in the world during your studies.

    Starting in February 2017

    • MA: £7,805
    • PGDip: £5,200
    • PGCert: £2,600
    • Short course (one module): £1,290
    Find out more about how to pay and scholarships and funding.

Career Opportunities

This course is ideal for those working or intending to work in the heritage industry, museums, auction houses or tourism. The MA is suited to graduates in subjects such as history of art and architecture, social and economic history, or English literature, as well as those who intend to undertake further MPhil or PhD research on the country house.

Careers

Our Career Development Service is here to support you – by email, phone or skype – with advice on interviews, CVs, work experience and more. From registration to Graduation and beyond, they are here to help you reach your professional goals.

Course Qualification Duration Start Dates Availability
The Country House MA 2 years part-time February each year Apply Now
The Country House PGDip 16 months part-time February each year Apply Now
The Country House PGCert 8 months part-time February each year Apply Now
The Country House Short course - one module 18 weeks part-time February each year Apply Now
Course
The Country House
Qualification
MA
Duration
2 years part-time
Start Dates
February each year
Availability
Course
The Country House
Qualification
PGDip
Duration
16 months part-time
Start Dates
February each year
Availability
Course
The Country House
Qualification
PGCert
Duration
8 months part-time
Start Dates
February each year
Availability
Course
The Country House
Qualification
Short course - one module
Duration
18 weeks part-time
Start Dates
February each year
Availability

Not what you're looking for?