Welsh School of Architecture

Diploma/MA in Professional Studies


This programme enables students to acquire an in-depth understanding of the legal and economic aspects of architectural practice and construction procurement, and the related skills necessary to practice effectively. It is designed to be undertaken while in full time employment within an architectural practice or related construction industry organisation.

MA Professional Studies: may be undertaken after the Diploma, or separately by qualified construction professionals (together with any of the Diploma modules, if desired). Comprises one 60-credit dissertation.

Postgraduate Diploma Professional Studies: approved by the ARB and RIBA (Part 3), thus providing a route to registration as an architect in the UK. Comprises six 20-credit taught modules.

The course has an excellent reputation, and has received a Commendation from the RIBA Visiting Board. The course also scored highly in the national PTES survey. The feedback from the students is very positive, as is that from external examiners, who have indicated that they consider the standard of teaching and achievement to be very high.

The programme is directed by Professor Sarah Lupton, who is well know for her expertise in this field, having published many books used widely by practising architects and on postgraduate courses throughout the UK.

Special features:

  • small size of cohort
  • individual tutoring, regular feedback
  • course run by leading author and expert in the field
  • wide variety of expert speakers and topics covered
  • module on international practice
  • students encouraged to develop individual research interests
  • taught by distance learning and short residential courses (only three)
  • emphasis on workshops and group working
  • undertaken while in employment; all students visited in their work placement
  • active alumni support network


The programme is supported by a team of WSA staff, Distinguished Visiting Fellows and external experts, with an important and growing contribution from visiting tutors who are alumni of the programme.

The Diploma is taught through a combination of short courses and distance learning. A key feature is the general thoroughness and care given to supporting the individual student. For example, students receive written feedback on all interim course work submissions, and the programme director visits all students in their placements at least once.

The short courses include many workshop sessions, group working exercises and individual tutorials (made possible through having a small cohort). The Diploma also has unusual features such as an adjudication writing exercise, and a module that focuses on international practice. A prize is awarded by Stride Treglown for the best Diploma graduate, and by the Society of Construction Law for the best adjudicator decision.

Alumni of the MA and the Diploma are entitled to join a Linkedin group for networking with equally knowledgeable peers and expert course contributors.

Course structure

Diploma/MA in Professional Studies (Part 3)

All modules are compulsory and have been designed to promote progression through levels of difficulty and complexity of skills, knowledge and concepts in an enabling sequence. The Diploma may be pursued on a 'full-time' (one year) or 'part-time' (two years) basis; in both cases the student is in employment throughout. Stage 2 (optional) leads to a Masters degree. Students undertake a dissertation (60 credits) on a topic related to the taught modules and agreed by the programme director.

The Diploma Modules

Further details of the modules and knowledge and skills acquired can be found here

Suitable for:

The programme is intended for students who are graduates from an architectural degree course, either UK or overseas, and may be taken by architects who are already registered (for example architects from other EU countries). The modules may be taken individually by any graduate or professional as CPD. The MA may also be taken separately.

Applicants for the Dip/MA should have obtained degrees which have been validated at RIBA/ARB Parts 1 and 2 levels, or have obtained qualifications which have been assessed by the ARB as equivalent. They should also have completed a specified period of Professional Experience complying with RIBA/ARB regulations (normally 12 months for part time and 24 months for full time enrolment). Those wishing to take the MA separately should normally be registered architects.

Books by Sarah Lupton:

Guide to SBC05 Guide to IC05 Guide to DB05 Guide to MW05 Which Contract?

Diploma/ MA in Professional Studies

Provisional date for residential courses session 2015-2016:

October 12th - 16th
January 11th - 15th
April 4th - 8th


A prize is awarded by Stride Treglown for the best Diploma Graduate, and by the Society of Construction Law for the best adjudicator decision. Prize-winners over the last few years have been as follows:

  Best Diploma Graduate Best Adjudicator Decision
2008 Tim Browne Robert Stiles
2009 Elizabeth Smith Samantha Pinn
2010 Samantha Pinn Diana Rashkova
2011 David Roberts Aimée Turner
2012 Sam Organ Natasha Smiljkovic
2013 Rachel Witham Rob Thomas
2014 Danielle Bellew Mathew Bell
2015 Bethan Knights Ben Hutton

Diploma/MA in Professional Studies (Part 3)

Course Director

Sarah Lupton MA, DipArch, LLM, RIBA , FCIArb (programme director) LinkedIn

Distinguished Visiting Fellows

Robert Firth BSc(Hons) MArch(Dist) MSc(Project Management), FRSA, FFB, RIBA; partner, RDMF Consultancy. LinkedIn

Manos Stellakis BSc, DipArch, MSc(Econ) RIBA; Partner, Lupton Stellakis (www.luptonstellakis.com) LinkedIn

Link to details of other contributing WSA staff and visiting speakers

Application Information

For a pdf brochure about the Diploma/MA in Architecture: Professional Studies click here. If you would like to apply for this scheme download the electronic postgraduate application form.

Current students enrolled on the scheme should refer to their Blackboard Account and may find some useful links available from the Schools Support Pages

For further details please contact:

Post-graduate officer: Christine Heywood
Telephone: +(44) 029 2087 9332
Facsmile: +)44 029 2087 4623
Email: HeywoodC@cardiff.ac.uk

click here to view brochure

Examples of student feedback:

"it really is a fantastically run course and we have all very much appreciated both the depth and breadth of the material and the care taken in its delivery"

"small group sizes and high standards of teaching staff"

"case study is very helpful; hands on  learning"

"Thoroughly enjoyed the breadth of essays and discussions amongst the cohort and the level of feedback was very good"

"v. useful notes issued .overall very impressed with course structure and invited speakers"

"Workshop and interactive stuff very useful and a change from just listening"

"Psychometric test v. interesting; the task/exercise was useful and helped look at the module from a different angle"

"speakers interaction with audience and audience participation in resolving real problems"

"to have in actual practitioners and people from relevant industries"


"It appears as though we are in safe hands"