Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright (Chair), Rosbottom and Katsaros; Associate Professor Gilpin; Assistant Professors Rice*, Arboleda and Carey.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

The FCAS major firmly places the study of architecture within the liberal arts by including the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. Our major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the Five Colleges, including art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst FCAS advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on Amherst College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal must be approved by the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee, which will forward it to the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) review committee. In this manner, a student’s major coursework decisions are discussed and vetted first by Amherst faculty and subsequently by Five College faculty in Architectural Studies to ensure that students will have appropriate preparation and a strong plan for the major.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100-level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200- and 300-level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. A senior thesis is required. Consequently, the Amherst FCAS major requires nine (9) courses plus two (2) thesis courses, for a total of eleven (11) courses. The student may choose to take a double senior thesis course (ARCH 499D) in the second semester of senior year, in which case the total number of courses required to complete the major becomes twelve (12). Before the second semester of junior year, the student must submit to his or her College advisor a significant research project (which may constitute a final project for a course taken) that demonstrates the ability to undertake rigorous research. This will constitute the comprehensive requirement for the major. Before the end of the junior year, the student will propose a senior thesis project and three potential advisors (two of whom must be Amherst faculty members) to the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee; an Amherst College thesis advisor will be designated.

* On leave 2018-19.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101)  This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024

102 Introduction to Architectural Studies

(Offered as ARCH 102 and ARHA 158) This course is an introduction to the many facets of architectural studies: the history, theory, and design of buildings, landscapes, and sites. We will survey the history of architecture from the earliest human dwellings to the present and expose students to diverse aspects of architectural theory, while also introducing the basic analytical skills of architectural representation. Starting with the earliest forms of human habitation and ending with issues of contemporary residences, we will study the style, purpose, and historical context of buildings, landscapes, and planning, including questions of climate change. We will conclude by considering the college campus as a place of habitation. Students will develop their skills of speaking and writing about architecture, while also learning basic design skills: the sketch, map, plan, elevation, materials study, landscape setting, and site. Design projects are based on effort and realization, not on proficiency. Two meetings a week, one in seminar format, and one in studio format.

Priority given to Architectural Studies majors and first-year students. Omitted 2018-19. 

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2017

135 Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800

(See ARHA 135)

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(See ARHA 152)

153 World Monuments

(See ARHA 153)

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(See ARHA 154)

157 The Postcolonial City

(See ARHA 157)

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class difference.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

203 Cityscapes: Imagining the European City

(Offered as ARCH 203 and EUST 203) Cities, the largest human artifact, have been at the center of Europeans’ relationships with nature, gods, and their own kind since their first appearance. With the advent of capitalist energy, the European city went through radical change. The resultant invention, re-invention and growth of major metropolises will be the subject of this course.

We will discuss histories and theories of the city and of the urban imagination in Europe since the eighteenth century. We will consider Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, and St. Petersburg, among others, and the counter-example of New York City. We will study examples of city planning and mapping, urban architecture, film and photography, painting, poetry, fiction, and urban theory. And, we may study Atget, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Calvino, Dickens, Joyce, Rilke, Truffaut, Zola, and others.

Questions addressed will include: To what extent do those who would “improve” a city take into account the intangible qualities of that city? How do the economics of capital compromise with the economics of living? How does the body-healthy and unhealthy-interact with the built environment? How and why does the imagination create an “invisible city” that rivals the “real” geo-political site? Two classes per week.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2018-19. Professor Rosbottom.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204 and ARHA 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 25 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

210 Shapes of Utopia: Radical French Architects and Urban Planners, from Boullée to Le Corbusier

(Offered as ARCH 210 and FREN 210) This class will introduce students to visionary French architects and urban planners who attempted to redefine perceptions of private and public space. Taking the visions of Enlightenment architects Louis-Etienne Boullée and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux as a starting point, we will explore the many shapes of utopian design, all the way to Pierre Chareau’s 1932 “Maison de verre” in the heart of Paris and Le Corbusier’s futuristic blueprint “towards a modern architecture.” We will assess these designs in their historical and cultural context while tying them to broader issues of private life, political authority, and gender and class distinctions. One of the main themes that will guide our investigation will be the idea of architecture as an element of social cohesion and political harmony. The last part of the class will be devoted to an analysis of architecture and urban planning in the French Empire during the colonial era, with particular attention to North Africa (especially Algiers). Course materials will be drawn from visual sources (drawings, prints, maps, plans), essays by architects and city planners, critical essays by architectural historians, film, and fiction. This class requires no previous knowledge either of French or of architectural history. 

Spring Semester. Professor Katsaros.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

216 Digital Constructions: Intermediate Architectural Design Studio

In this intermediate architectural design studio we will explore the intellectual and creative process of making and representing architectural space. The focus will be to explore the boundaries of architecture—physically and theoretically, historically and presently—through digital media. Our process will prompt us to dissect 20th-century European architectures and urban spaces and to explore their relationships to contemporary, global issues. The capstone of the course will be a significant design project (TBD) requiring rigorous studio practices, resulting in plans, sections, elevations and digital models. This course will introduce students to various digital diagramming, drawing, and modeling software, while challenging students to question the theoretical and practical implications of these interdisciplinary media processes. Students will be required to participate in three workshop days outside of class time aimed at improving upon proficiency with digital tools. This course will combine lectures, reading, discussion, and extensive studio design.

Requisite: ARHA 111. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2018-19.  Five College Professor Long.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

253 The Modern Metropolis

(See ARHA 253)

257 The Colonial City: Global Perspectives

(See ARHA 257)

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(See ARHA 258)

268 Image of Empire: Art and Architecture of Mughal India, 1526–1858

(See ARHA 268)

281 The Arts of Exchange: Cross-Cultural Interaction in the Islamic World, 1400–1800

(See ARHA 281)

356 Baroque Art in Italy, France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands

(See ARHA 356)

360 Performance

(See GERM 360)

363 Traumatic Events 

(See GERM 363)

364 Architectures of Disappearance

(See GERM 364)

365 Making Memorials

(See GERM 365)

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to Architectural Studies and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.  Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2018-19. Professor Gilpin.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2023

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024, Spring 2025

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course.  Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Non-Language Departmental Courses

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(See ASLC 220)

Non-Language Courses


(See GERM 368)

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