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Research methods II: Historical studies and epistemology in the humanities


Hildebrand S.

Course director


Together with Research Methods I, which focuses on empirical methods and interdisciplinary approaches to research in architecture, the course forms a core element of the Doctoral School in architecture. In Research Methods II, we devote ourselves to epistemological foundations and conditions of scientific work (critical thinking, hermeneutics, constructivist theory, authorship, narration, situatedness etc.), methods of collecting and evaluating information relevant to architectural history and its presentation (source criticism, oral history,  archival studies, close and distant reading, data management etc.) as well as (architectural) historical methods and approaches in the narrower sense (Mikrohistory, Global/World History, Actor Network Theory, description etc.) in three exemplary thematic blocks that change from semester to semester. In the course, specific non-university fields and places of work (archive, museum, library, monument preservation etc.) as well as their implications for methodological work are also addressed. Depending on the topic, specialised guest speakers will be invited. In order to best meet the needs and research fields of the doctoral students, the concrete course programme is discussed in a joint preliminary meeting at the end of the autumn semester.


The course aims to familiarise doctoral students with methods and epistemological concepts in the humanities in general and in historical studies in particular - here with a focus on the historiography of architecture. Doctoral students should be enabled to select and apply methods appropriate to their subjects and research questions. They develop an understanding for the embedding of methodological questions in epistemological and scientific concepts.

Sustainable development goals

  • Quality education

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

The three thematic blocks are covered in three four-hour seminars. Input lectures introduce the respective topic. The focus is on seminar exercises and discussions, which will be prepared by the doctoral students through the reading of selected texts or assignments to be worked on. It is explicitly desired that the topics dealt with are related to methodological and epistemological challenges in the doctoral student's own research.


Examination information

The exam is taken during the semester in the form of oral and written contributions to the seminar topics.