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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 from 20/21 will be run on a 100% distance learning basis.

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 programme will be delivered using a wide range of innovative teaching methods. Course material will be available in the form of detailed course notes, wikis, and pre-recorded video presentations. There will be regular live-streamed events, including webinars and online workshops given by leading experts, and a blog updating you on course events and current industry developments relevant to the course.

The live-streamed events will be grouped in two-day blocks, with regular lunch-time webinars, to ensure good links with the School, and among the cohort. These will be supplemented by discussion boards relating to specific topics, regular written feedback on your work, and individual and group on-line tutorials.

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 the Master of Design Administration two-day on-line events are as follows:

Full-time students15-16 October 2020
22-23 October 2020
21-22 January 2021
28-29 January 2021
11-12 March 2021
25-26 March 2021
Part-time students: Year 1
15-16 October 2021
22-23 October 2021
11-12 March 2021
Part-time students: Year 220-21 January 2022
27-28 January 2022
24-25 March 2022

The first short course for the 2019/20 session took place on 8-11 October and included workshops and seminars from a range of contributors. Read the news article.

The second short course took place on 22-24 January 2020. Read the news article.

The third short course took place online on 17-20 March 2020. Read the news article

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 tutors to help with workshops and provide feedback, who are usually alumni of the School. 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