Architecture (BSc/MArch)

Please note that this course is currently under review. Therefore the information shown is subject to change and indicative only. The review is expected to be completed by February 2017. This page will be updated after that date and will then represent the basis on which the University intends to deliver the course

The BSc/MArch is a unique degree scheme, as following completion of the 3 year BSc the first year of the MArch is spent predominantly in architectural practice.

Architecture students working in studio on designs
Students at work in the studio

The Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) has a reputation for being one of the best in the UK. Our aim is to make the world a better place through contextually sensitive, sustainable and beautiful architecture.

Through our courses, we support our students to become well-rounded and capable individuals, by addressing the full range of skills required to be an architect. These include creative design, building construction and performance, environmental design, issues of sustainability, matters of professional responsibility and the duties of an architect, and an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of architecture and urban design.

The BSc/MArch is a unique degree course as, after successful completion of the three-year BSc (or equivalent qualification from another university), students will spend most of the first year of the MArch in architectural practice. This is followed by a single, final year based in the school.

Part 1 and Part 2 of the UK professional qualification for architects are fulfilled by the BSc and MArch degrees, respectively. Both degrees are approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB).

Most of your time on these courses is spent in the design studio, working on architectural design projects that grow in scale and complexity as you progress through them. Many of the skills mentioned above are developed through and integrated into design. We offer a range of working spaces, workshops and computer aided design facilities to support this.

You will be taught both by permanent academic staff and tutors from local and leading UK practices, providing an exciting mix of design approaches and experiences. As the leading school of architecture in Wales, we have good links with the Welsh Government, construction industry bodies and professional practice locally, and we also have strong international links.

If you already have a first degree and wish to apply for the MArch Part 2 only, please visit our postgraduate pages for more information.

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • The Welsh School of Architecture is consistently placed among the top-ranked architecture schools in the UK on the basis of its teaching and research as noted in league tables and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
  • Our Architecture BSc is a three-year degree course in its own right, but can lead on to the two-year MArch course and eventual qualification as an architect, following completion of the Part 3 programme (Diploma/MA in Architecture: Professional Studies).
  • Two-thirds of the BSc course is currently based on project work in the studio.
  • We currently run study visits to architectural sites in the UK and overseas as a regular feature of the BSc course, and MArch units are regularly based in Europe.
  • During the first year of the MArch course students are based in an architectural practice, undertaking a combination of practical and academic work.

We have large studio spaces, a media lab, and a fantastic library, plus for designing models we have a workshop and digital fabrication lab. I intend to become a qualified architect and feel strongly about the role that architecture can play in addressing poverty.

Tom Woodward, 1st Year Undergraduate

Key facts

UCAS CodeK100
Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration5 years
ModeFull time with sandwich year
AccreditationsRoyal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Architects Registration Board (ARB)
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 70 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 600 applications.
Typical A level offerAAA. We prefer a good academic base with a balance of skills in visual arts, sciences and writing.
General Studies, Critical Thinking and PE are not considered.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core at Grade A plus AA from 2 A-levels indicating a balance of skills.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer36 points from a good academic combination of subjects.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course
Admissions tutor(s)

The BSc is a three-year full-time modular course. Core modules vary in size from 10 to 70 credits. You need to earn 120 credits a year.

The MArch is a two-year second degree. The first year is spent mainly in architectural practice. It includes short courses in the School and a modular structure of associated coursework. The second year is taught in the School and is, again, modular, involving a major Design Thesis and a Dissertation.

There is no automatic right to progress from the BSc to the MArch within the School although graduates from the BSc in Architecture are given priority. Students with class 1, 2.1 or 2.2 degrees are usually granted progression as long as their marks for design work are over 55%. Normally, students with third-class degrees are not granted progression.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

The modules in year one set a foundation for your development across all parts of the architectural curriculum, with the exception of economic and professional studies. There are studio based modules dedicated to architectural design and design principles and methods, lecture-based modules dedicated to architectural technology and the history and theory of architecture. A study visit to a major city occupies one week in the second term. In recent years students have visited Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Architectural Design 1AR110170 credits
Architectural Technology 1AAR110210 credits
Architectural Technology 1BAR100210 credits
Building through TimeAR100720 credits
Design Principles and Methods 1AR100610 credits

Year two

Currently in the first term you would work in the studio on concepts of “making place” through the medium of a sustainable housing project. In the second term the projects address broader challenges, applying analysis of an existing settlement to a proposal for a small public building and attached public space.

Other modules in year two address issues of digital design and the physical and cultural context of architecture viewed through the research interests of the School’s staff and visiting lecturers.

We also aim to develop a thorough understanding of domestic and medium-span buildings, and to equip you with techniques to evaluate and predict the environmental performance of your designs.

As in year one, we will usually take a week-long study visit to a major city.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Architectural Technology 2AR200220 credits
Architectural Design 2AR220170 credits
Design Principles and Methods 2AR200610 credits
Architecture in ContextAR200720 credits

Year three

In the third year studio programme you will choose to work in one of a range of ‘units’. Each unit comprises a group of students, who work on the same architectural brief over the course of the year, supported by the tutors who devised that brief. The year starts with a master planning exercise embracing the broader context of site. The second term focuses on the design of a specific architectural proposal within this broader context.

The third year study visit serves as a preparatory stage to introduce the aim of second-term project.

Lecture-based modules continue to develop your understanding of technical, cultural and digital studies established in earlier years, while introducing topics such as practice management and economics.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Issues in Contemporary ArchitectureAR300310 credits
Architectural Design 3AR330170 credits
Design Principles and Methods 3AR300610 credits
Practice Management and EconomicsAR300410 credits
Architectural Technology 3AR300220 credits

Year four: Sandwich year

The first year of the MArch – the Year of Education in Practice – is mainly spent working in architectural practice, whilst pursuing associated coursework modules.

Though you will be based full-time in an architect’s office, contact with the School is maintained. You are normally visited by a representative of the School and also return to the School for a number of short courses, which address aspects of architectural design and technology, research and cultural studies, professional practice and building economics. These are timed to allow those students wishing to work abroad to do so with the minimum of disruption and additional travel costs. During the year a design project is set, and you will also be expected to reflect on your learning in practice and undertake preliminary work related to a dissertation.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Design in PracticeAR440160 credits
Research PreparationAR440220 credits
Reflective PracticeAR440340 credits

Year five

The second year of the MArch is spent full-time in the School and aims to take you to an advanced level of architectural research and design. It offers an intense and lively forum for the exploration and discussion of issues in contemporary architecture and urbanism and includes modules in building economics and professional practice.

The focus of year five is the Design Thesis, which asks you to define and establish your own position in architectural design, while meeting the requirements of the RIBA/ARB Part 2 syllabus. The thesis is structured around thematic studios, or ‘units’ – led by design tutors who have expertise and interest in specific areas of research and/ or practice. The themes are often related to areas of research expertise within the School.

The year also includes a 10,000-word Dissertation on a topic for which you undertake preparatory research during the Year in Practice. You are encouraged to relate this research, where possible, to your Design Thesis. You are supported in its development by dedicated members of staff within the School.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Design ThesisAR500180 credits
DissertationAR500230 credits
Practice, Management and EconomicsAR500310 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

The School aims to provide an inspiring and enriching educational experience for you by teaching from a world-leading research and scholarship base (as demonstrated by our REF 2014 results).

Most of your time in the School will be spent in our design studio. Here the key teaching method is the traditional one-to-one tutorial, supported by lectures and group assignments into which all aspects of the subject are integrated.

The studio is the location for design teaching, model-making tutorials, workshops and debate. It is also used for exhibitions and “crits” – at which students display their work for critical discussion and assessment by staff, fellow students and visiting critics.

The School encourages effective student-led and independent learning, whether through site analysis, library research or “reflective practice”.

Your studies will also include regular lectures and seminars. Modules in history and theory of architecture, architectural technology, practice management and economics, and digital approaches to design are delivered predominantly this way. They frequently also entail an element of project based learning, or an integration with studio based design projects.

Teaching also includes the provision of online learning materials, such as briefs, bibliographies, readings and precedents, as appropriate to the module.

How will I be supported?

Each academic year is coordinated by a ‘year chair’ with responsibility to oversee student progress. You will also have a personal tutor with whom you can (in confidence) discuss any concerns that may affect your progress.  Regular progress reviews are held throughout the year with the year team, and an open-door policy exists throughout the School.

The School provides opportunities for you to reflect on and define your individual learning needs.  This generally takes the form of a reflective diary or sketch book.  Increasingly these take the form of online blogs.

The architectural library is located in the same building as the School and provides easy access to resources and support. Electronic course materials are also generally held on the University network.

During the MArch Year of Education in Practice contact with the School is maintained throughout the year.  You are normally visited by a member of staff or a member of the School’s alumni. 

The University also offers a range of services for students to access, including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback

You will receive regular oral and written feedback on your progress throughout the course. Feedback on coursework is usually given using a standard feedback pro-forma or can be given orally, in a similar way to design project work.

How will I be assessed?

Contact time with staff is high and you will receive regular oral and written feedback on your progress throughout the course. Design projects and related exercises are assessed continuously. At the end of each year of study, a portfolio of all design-related work is presented for formal examination by panels of internal examiners and then for moderation by external examiners.

It is a requirement of our professional accrediting bodies that students meet all of their validation criteria.  External examiners are expected to confirm that these requirements have been met.

Lecture-based courses are assessed through written examination and coursework submitted during the semester.  Feedback on coursework is usually given using a standard feedback pro-forma or can be given orally, in a similar way to design project work.

The criteria by which assessments are made are contained in the School’s Teaching Handbook, in project and coursework documentation, and explained at introduction to the various modules and design projects.

In MArch year one (Education in Practice) you are asked to undertake assignments which enable you to reflect on office processes and procedures as well as your own individual learning. You will conduct research in your office environment and critically evaluate your experience through an online e-portfolio and blog, and regular written feedback is given to you as this progresses. Assessment is based on the degree by which you reflect on your experience, rather than on the nature of the experience itself. Progress on work is also monitored through visits to students in their workplaces.

As part of the Dissertation module in the MArch year two (in the School), you are expected to meet an internal and external examiner for an oral examination based on your research.

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from disabled students and we may be able to offer alternative assessment methods. However, this may not always be possible.  Competence standards may limit the availability of adjustments or alternative assessments, but you should refer to the module descriptions for details.

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire and develop a range of skills valuable in a working environment, both discipline specific and more generic employability skills:

  • through design projects you will develop skills in analysis, creativity, problem solving, planning, organisation, decision making and attention to detail
  • you will develop interpersonal skills such as empathy, ability to influence, listening and questioning
  • through group work you will develop team-working skills
  • through regular presentations, you will develop strong communication skills
  • you will learn to deal with uncertainty and develop skills in adaptability and flexibility
  • the intensive nature of the course means you will develop skills in time management and tolerance of stress
  • you are specifically taught skills in Information Technology (and Computer Aided Design), information retrieval and basic research.

In 2015, 95% of graduates of the Welsh School of Architecture were in employment or continuing their studies within six months of leaving us.

Employers included architects’ practices, building energy consultants, town planning departments, construction companies and universities. Career destinations included architect, urban designer and research officer.

The majority of our graduates proceed to a career in architectural practice, and are found in many eminent practices in the UK and across the world.

Jobs

  • Architect
  • Urban Designer
  • Research Officer
  • Project Manager

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of everything that is an essential part of the programme, this will be clearly detailed in all programme information and in any verbal instructions given by tutors. Costs associated with sandwich/year abroad placements, such as travel and accommodation, are not covered by the School.

The University considers that the following costs do not need to be covered by schools as they are either not essential or are basic costs that a student should be expected to cover themselves:

  • Laptop computers
  • Calculators
  • General stationery
  • Text books (assumed to be available in the library)
  • Basic copying / printing

If there are optional costs/fees to be covered by the student, these are not a requirement to pass the degree.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You are asked to bring basic drawing equipment.  A laptop computer with appropriate software is highly recommended.  Much of the software typically used is available through educational agreements at zero or reduced cost.

Any other equipment needed will be provided by the School.  You have the opportunity to work within the School’s design studios, have access to a suite of PC computers running the necessary software and use large-format plotters, a digital laser cutter and a well-equipped workshop.

A study visit to a major city in the UK or abroad occupies about one week in years one and two of the BSc course. Year three students also makes a substantial visit in the UK or abroad; this may be to either a city or a rural location, depending on the project pursued.


Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.