Minor Program in Architectural Studies


The minor in Architectural Studies combines coursework in Art History, which equips students to analyze the form and changing history of the built environment in diverse cultures, places, and times, with up to three courses on architectural or urban topics offered in any department. Thus the minor enables students to enrich art historical analysis with methods from other disciplines. You might choose to minor in architectural studies because you are interested in the built environment –the inescapable setting of our lives – from a liberal arts perspective or because you are considering applying to architecture school. The minor could represent an interest distinct from your major or it could complement a major in the social sciences or humanities by exploring the material setting of history and social life or the context for works of literature, film, music or drama. It could equally complement a major in the sciences, such as medical fields, ecology, geology, physics, or mathematics. 

Prospective minors need to meet with Art History’s Director of Undergraduate Studies before the end of the third year to discuss their interests and course plans and obtain the Director’s advice and approval. Together you will fill out a minor program form listing the intended courses, which the Director signs. You should download the form and submit the completed, signed version to your College adviser before the end of the third year.



The minor in architectural studies requires a total of seven courses chosen in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, all of which must either focus on the built environment or permit the student to devote the assignments or papers to the built environment. A minimum of four courses must be in the Department of Art History. The additional three courses may be taken in Art History or in other departments or programs. Some of the departments that may offer relevant courses are: Geographical Studies, DOVA, History, English, Anthropology, Environmental Studies. In one of the courses, students also write one research paper of about ten to fifteen pages on a topic chosen with and guided by the instructor, by individual arrangement at the start of the quarter.

The Art History courses must include at least two at the 20000-level. As one of them, minors may elect to take ARTH 29600, Junior Seminar: Doing Art History, for which they would research and write an essay on a topic of their choice instead of preparing a BA paper proposal. This option is particularly suitable for minors interested in doing graduate work in architectural history.

Courses in the minor (1) may not be double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors; and (2) may not be counted toward general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for letter grades, and at least four must carry University of Chicago course numbers.


Summary of Requirements      

4 courses in ARTH focusing on the built environment (at least 2 must be 20000 level)+


3 courses in ARTH or other departments focusing on the built environment


1 10-15 page research paper written for one of the 7 courses in the minor


Total Units


+ One of the 20000-level courses may be ARTH 29600 Junior Seminar: Doing Art History. Students in the minor would research and write an essay on a topic of their choice instead of preparing a BA paper proposal.


The following faculty members in Art History specialize in architectural history: Niall Atkinson, Wei-Cheng Lin, Katherine Fischer Taylor, Amy Thomas. Many other faculty members in Art History have an interest in the built environment and will support students writing papers on architecture; you are welcome to ask your instructors.

The following are examples of Art History courses appropriate for the minor. The complete list of eligible Art History courses offered each academic year can be found on the Art History website at http://arthistory.uchicago.edu/courses.

ARTH 14000-16999 (survey courses): 

ARTH14700 Building Renaissance Italy A Survey of the Built Environment

ARTH15709: Twentieth-Century Western Architecture

ARTH17117: Spatializing China’s Built Environment.


ARTH 17000-18999 (art-in-context courses): 

ARTH 17310 Between the Agora and the Shopping Mall: The Social Construction of the City Square

ARTH 17400 University of Chicago Campus

ARTH 17410 Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and Beyond

ARTH 17611 Envisioning the Colonial Metropolis.


ARTH 20000 series: 

ARTH 23801 Soundscapes of the Early Modern City

ARTH 26600 Early 20th-Century Urban Visions

ARTH 22770 The City Delirious Conflict & Vision in the Modern Metropolis (postponed from Spring 2015 until the 2016-17 academic year). 


ARTH 40000 series, graduate seminars, with the instructor’s permission:

ARTH 48201 Florentine Topographies: Art, Architecture, and Urban Life

ARTH 49709 Skyscrapers


For more information about the Minor in Architectural Studies, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies at arth-dus@lists.uchicago.edu.