Detail of the painting St Paul's from Blackfriar's Bridge by Clive Head

Discover the buildings of London and you'll discover London.

Information at a Glance

  • Wednesdays 11:00 - 13:00
  • 10 weeks: May to July
  • 2 hours weekly taught time
  • Tutor: Michael Paraskos, assisted by Richard Barnes
  • In person course
Enrolment opens on 1 March 2023

On this course we are going to discover some aspects of the history of British architecture from the twelfth century until (more or less) now, using London as our guide. In London there are examples of different British architectural styles from almost all periods, and especially from the middle ages to the present day.

On this 10-week course we will visit different places around London, looking at the architectural history and styles of different buildings, how they relate to each other and to wider historical architectural, social and cultural movements.

These visits will also allow us to learn the language and terminology of architectural history and practice, but the overall approach is to be informative, educational and entertaining. It is an opportunity to discover something of the astonishing developments in British architecture over a period of a thousand years, gain an understanding of the history of buildings in London in particular.

No previous knowledge of art history, architecture or history is necessary.

Class Format

Each week we will meet at a different location in London and look at the buildings in that area. Classes will involve informal talks on the buildings and area from the tutor, and discussion with the whole class on the things we see. Please wear appropriate footwear and be aware of the weather - we will mainly be outside and it might rain sometimes.

You do not need to have any previous experience of art history, architecture or history to enjoy and learn a great deal from this course, which is aimed at complete beginners and novices.

Course Information

Course Programme

PROGRAMME (may be subject to alteration)

1. Introducing Architectural History - St James's Square

2. The Early Medieval(ish) - Westminster

3. Temple

4. Greenwich - The (Classical) eagle has landed

5. Wren and the New City

6. Dodgy Restoration Builders? Covent Garden

7. Somerset House and “Good Taste”

9. Albertopolis - South Kensington

10. The start of something new and the end of the course


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


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 and the book Mnemosyne, published 2021

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.