London from Blackfriars Bridge

Discover the buildings of London on a walking-tour with Dr Michael Paraskos

At a glance

  • Live face-to-face course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Thursdays 10:30 - 12:30
  • 5 weeks: July to August
  • Tutors: Michael Paraskos and Richard Barnes
  • Fees from £60 to £105
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
  • Book from 18 June 2021
Booking link

What is it that makes London look the way it does today? Although there are many modern buildings in the city, much of what we think of as the 'London Look' is rooted in the architectural styles of the seventeenth-century, modified by the Victorians, but still recognisable as a distinctive architectural style.

On this course we are going to look at the history of London through its architecture. Our aim is to think about what London's architectural style is, how it developed and why the city looks the way it does. On site visits to specific areas of London we will follow the course of the city's architectural history, looking at both grand buildings and more ordinary houses, seeing how they are tied together by history. Starting with the medieval period we will see rare remnants of London's ancient past, explore the impact of the Great Fire of London in 1666 on architecture and see how the growth of the Middle Classes changed the nature of building in the city.

You will be encouraged to learn the language of architecture in a gentle way during our site visits, but the approach aims to be informative, educational and entertaining, and to get us all out seeing things again during the summer.

No previous knowledge of architectural history, art history or history is necessary - all welcome. 

This 5-week course offers one 2-hour in-person session each week (10 contact hours). 

Class Format

This is not a classroom or online course - we will be walking the streets of London to visit the buildings, so please wear sensible shoes, dress appropriately for the weather and do bring an umbrella. Please meet at the specific venue given in the course outline which will be sent to you after you enrol.

Please be aware of covid-19 safe-distancing requirements and adhere to them. We ask if possible that participants on this course take a home swab test (lateral flow test) before joining each session of the class. These can be ordered free of charge prior to the start of the course from or obtained free of charge from many pharmacists.

In the event of the government or Public Health England requiring further lockdown measures the class will transfer online and any remaining sessions will be taught entirely online.

Course Information

Course Programme


Week 1: London's Temple

On this field trip we will look at Temple and begin with a tutor-led discussion on Temple Church, Middle Temple Hall and Middle Temple Lane. Through group discussion and tutor led prompts we will discover some of the history behind the buildinsg, identifying their style and some of their key architectural features. One of the questions we will be asking ourselves here is the question of authenticity. Moving on we will look at Middle Temple Hall, and finally at the buildings of Middle Temple Lane to see the development on London's architecture i the Tudor and Stuart periods.

Week 2: Covent Garden and Seven Dials

On this field trip we will begin with a brief recap on the previous week’s class with an opportunity for questions, before moving on to consider the architectural history of Covent Garden and Seven Dials. This will be an opportunity to see work by the architect Inigo Jones, as well as to examine work by some of the speculative developers who did so much to create the 'London Look' in architecture. Through group discussion and tutor led prompts we we will look at some of the buildings in this part of London, both to learn about their history and to continue practising naming architectural features, as well as learning new examples.

Week 3: City of London Wren and the New City

On this field trip we will begin with a brief recap on the previous week’s class with an opportunity for questions, before moving on to consider the effect of the Great Fire of London of 1666 on the city and the building of a new city afterwards. Through group discussion and tutor led prompts we we will consider how the monarch, Charles II, wanted to be seen in light of the Great Fire, and we will be be introduced to the work of some of the key figures involves in rebuilding London, such as Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. We will also discover how London managed to recover so quickly after the Great Fire, connecting the rebirth of the city to the profits made from the Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans.

Week 4: Somerset House – The Birth of “Good Taste”

On this field trip we will begin with a brief recap on the previous week’s class with an opportunity for questions, before moving on to consider the architectural history of Somerset House. Through group discussion and tutor led prompts we we will explore the work of the architect William Chambers to consider how it combines of Neo-Classical seriousness with almost Rococo detailing. We will then move on to look at the Adelphi area and to discuss how the growth of middle class power in this period is reflected in London's architecture. Through a tutor-led discussion we will look at the buildings in this part of London, both to learn about their history and to continue practising naming architectural features, as well as learning new examples.

Week 5: South Kensington – Albertopolis

On this field trip we will begin with a brief recap on the previous week’s class with an opportunity for questions, before moving on to a tutor-led discussion on the architectural history of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial. We will think about how the arrival of modern industrial society led to one of the most concerted efforts to revive historical pre-industrial styles.

Additional Reading

There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course, but if you would like to look in greater depth at the subject the following books are recommended:

  • Nikolaos Pevsner, Pevsner's Architectural Glossary
  • Chris Rogers, How to Read London

No academic credits are available for this course.

About Your Tutors

Photograph of Michael ParaskosDr Michael Paraskos is a very experienced adult education tutor, having taught for over twenty-five years. He holds a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and also teaches art history to students at the City and Guilds of London Art School. 
He is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine. His first novel In Search of Sixpence was published in 2016 and his second, called Rabbitman, was published in 2017.



Photograph of Richard BarnesRichard Barnes is a sculptor, stone carver and letter cutter who trained at the City and Guilds of London Art School. He has worked on the architectural sculpture at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and is the recipient of the Brian Till Prize for Art History Writing and the annual award of the Honorable Knights of the Round Table for his carving. His most recent writing includes 'Footfalls on the boundary of another world' published in the anthology, Othello's Island 1 in 2019.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
10  5  £105 £60 £80
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Fee Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • NHS staff (other than Imperial NHS Trust staff)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • South London Botanical Institute Members
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read these before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 10  5 n/a n/a n/a w/c 26 Jul - w/c 23 Aug 2020 (5 weeks)

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% of the taught sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 18 June

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be sent to the course tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos, at

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.