Concentration in Architectural Studies

The Architectural Studies concentration within the Department of History of Art and Architecture blends a variety of disciplines toward the study of buildings and the built environment. The concentration prepares students for the continued study of architecture and the history of architecture in graduate school as well as careers in related areas such as urban studies. The concentration requires four lecture courses and two seminars in the history of architecture and urbanism that are offered by the Department of History of Art and Architecture. One of the seminars is a project seminar, taken in junior or senior year, and is designed as a capstone experience for the Architectural Studies concentrator. All concentrators in Architectural Studies must take a project seminar. Courses that may be counted toward the concentration are listed with an "A" at the end of their descriptions in BANNER and in the Course Announcement Bulletin.

Because the architectural studies program was especially designed for students wishing to gain greater experience in the practical skills necessary for a career in architecture or a related field, concentrators are required to take a course in design from the Visual Arts Department, the Rhode Island School of Design or an introduction to architectural design, theatre set design at Brown University.

Students will be able and are encouraged to take cross-listed pertinent courses from such departments or programs as American Civilization, Center for Old World Archaeology and Art, Engineering, Mathematics, History, Modern Culture and Media, Urban Studies, and Visual Art, in addition to those offered by the Department. They can receive concentration credit for a maximum of two of these courses. Study abroad can be a valuable enrichment of the academic work available on campus, in that it offers opportunities for first-hand knowledge of architecture and the built environment as well as providing exposure to foreign languages and cultures. Study abroad should be planned in consultation with the concentration advisor in order to make sure that foreign course work will relate meaningfully to the concentrator's program of study. Only two courses taken outside the department may count for concentration credit (including courses taken abroad and at other institutions in the United States). These credits will be counted as lecture courses, not seminars.

The equivalent of two and a half years of foreign language study are required for concentrators, in order to read scholarship in at least one other language and to sensibly interact with an architectural culture other than your own. Students with previous language experience will be asked to take a placement test and demonstrate a reading ability equivalent to passing a 500 level Brown University language course. You can also fulfill the language requirement by passing a 500 level Brown University language course (students who declared before August 2013 must demonstrate proficiency through the 400 level).

Brown Students usually choose and declare their concentrations towards the end of the fourth semester of the Sophomore year.  After you decide to concentrate inHistory of Art or Architectural Studies the first step is to declare your concentration.  To do that you need to go to:  During this process you should talk with the Concentration Advisor to set up your plans. 


Please note:  courses that fulfill concentration requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

  • Four lecture courses distributed over three areas in architectural history (numbered between HA 0020 and 0940 and marked with an A) from the following areas: Ancient / Medieval / Islamic / East Asian / Latin American / African / Early Modern (ca. 1400-1800) / Modern and Contemporary
  • One seminar in architectural history (numbered between HIAA 1100 and 1890 and marked with an A).
  • The project seminar (HA 1910 or acceptable substitute to be chosen in discussion with the concentration advisor) is required of all concentrators and is taken in junior or senior year. Priority is given to architectural studies concentrators. The two above seminars can NOT be replaced with an independent study/honors thesis/classes taken in other departments or universities.
  • One studio art course in design (at Brown, RISD, and other schools).
  • Three additional courses. These can include other courses taught in the department (including HIAA 0010) and cross-listed courses in another department that are pertinent to architectural studies.  They also include a select number of non-cross listed courses that are approved by the concentration advisor.  These include, but are not limited to, MATH  0090 and 0100, PHYS  0030 and 0040, ENGN 0030, urban studies and engineering courses, and scenic design and technical production (Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies).
  • Language requirement  (A recent placement test for a 500 level reading capacity, or passing of a 500 level language class.)

As noted above, you can receive a maximum 2 concentration credits for courses taken outside the Department in other Brown departments or at other universities (transfer credits or from study abroad programs), or for courses that also count towards a second concentration. No concentration credit is given for High School AP, Subsidiary AP, A level etc. courses. No concentration credit is given for language classes.

It is expected that concentrators will wish to focus on a particular period (e.g. ancient, modern architecture), a particular branch of the field (e.g. urbanism), or a methodology (e.g. semiotics, critical interpretation, archaeology). Students are encouraged to formulate their own coherent program of study.

Language Requirement

A recent placement test for a 500 level reading capacity, or passing of a 400 level language class.


 All concentrators are required to write an essay when they file for the concentration that lays out what they expect to gain from the course of study they propose.  All second semester seniors will be required to write a final essay that takes measure of what they have learned from the concentration, including their capstone and other experiences relating to their study of the history of art and architecture. For students doing a capstone, their capstone director will read this essay. A department subcommittee will read essays written by students not electing to do a capstone.  The self-assessment should be turned in with a revised list of courses actually taken and the final paperwork for concentration approval.

Attendance at lecture events and conferences in the HIAA department is strongly encouraged.