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Master of Design Administration (MDA)

Students in a classroom

The Master of Design Administration, or MDA, is a new programme that aims to equip you with the expertise necessary for the successful administration and management of the design process in the procurement of buildings.

The MDA is designed to be undertaken while in employment, and may be taken on a blended learning or 100% distance learning basis, using a wide range of innovative and interactive teaching methods, designed to ensure all students maintain close links with the school and each other.

The programme has been developed to meet the growing need for experts in design management, both within client bodies, consultancies, and within contractors and specialist sub-contractor firms. A key challenge facing the construction industry is the successful integration and management of the design process, which can run from project inception through to handover and post occupancy feedback.

This challenge applies both to the demand side, i.e. to clients seeking to establish accountable and efficient procurement arrangements, and to the supply side, i.e. firms working with clients to provide design services and/or combined design and construction packages that deliver optimal design solutions.

Essential to meet this challenge is the use of innovative processes for the identification, communication and realisation of design intent. These processes must be supported by clear contractual frameworks that accurately reflect the participants’ independent and shared responsibilities for achieving the design requirements in practice.

The MDA is delivered through a series of single and two day teaching events, plus regular lunch-time webinars, online workshops given by leading experts, and a weekly blog updating you on course events and current industry developments relevant to the course.  For the blended learning version, some events are planned to be on campus, but will also be live streamed. These events will be supplemented by discussion boards relating to specific topics, regular written feedback on your work, and individual and group on-line tutorials. Supporting course material will be available in the form of detailed course notes and pre-recorded video presentations.

How to apply

For more information on course content, structure, fees and how to apply, please visit our Master of Design Administration course information page.

Key events

Provisional dates for key MDA events are listed below. Those marked (C) are planned to be on-campus, but will be live streamed for Distance Learners and those who prefer not to attend in person. All others will be online.

Full-time students29 September 2021
8  October 2021 (C)
15 October 2021
21-22 October 2021
20-21 January 2022 (C)
27-28 January 2022
3-4 March 2022 
24-25 March 2022 (C)
4 April 2022 (C)
Part-time students: Year 1
29 September 2021
8  October 2021 (C)
15 October 2021
21-22 October 2021
3-4 March 2022
4 April 2022 (C)
Part-time students: Year 220-21 January 2022 (C)
27-28 January 2022
24-25 March 2022 (C)

News items on short course events run in 2020/21 can be found OctoberJanuary and March. Articles for 2019/20 can be found on the Welsh School of Architecture news pages for October, January and March.

Course team

The course is directed by Professor Sarah Lupton. Key to the course are the two expert consultants (Manos Stellakis and Robert Firth), who are external to the School but have ongoing input, advising on strategic matters, delivering seminars and workshops, and providing feedback to students. We also engage a team of tutors, all alumni of the course, to help with workshops and provide feedback. We invite many industry experts to give guest talks and seminars.

Course Director

Professor Sarah Lupton

Professor Sarah Lupton

Personal Chair

+44 (0)29 2087 5966


Robert Firth BSc (Hons) BArch (Dist) MSc (Project Management), FRSA, FFB, RIBA (Partner, RDMF Consultancy, Expert Consultant, WSA)

Manos Stellakis BSc, DipArch, MSc (Econ) RIBA, (Partner, Lupton Stellakis architects; Expert Consultant, WSA)

Admissions support

Architecture Admissions

My postgraduate studies at Cardiff were a great experience and prepared me for my future career plans in several ways. Through the course structure I was able to develop my communication, creative, analytical and management skills. The course consists of a series of onsite courses, seminars and tutorials whilst working in practice, where you gain an in-depth knowledge of practice management, legal, economical and procurement practice. There is regular contact time with the tutors as well as constant support on the coursework. This focused learning, group size and continuous support was invaluable for my development and aided with my career development.

Katie Parfitt