Architectural Design (MA)
This one year full-time MA in Architectural Design is aimed at students who are looking for a rich, engaging and design-focused post-graduate programme, but do not wish to qualify as a UK registered architect.
This one year full-time MA in Architectural Design is aimed at students who are looking for a rich, advanced and engaging post-graduate programme which focuses on the multiple facets and relationships between design and research. By pursuing the MA in Architectural Design, the students will get the necessary skills for becoming sophisticated design-research thinkers and practitioners.
It shares many of the design elements of our established MArch (Master of Architecture/ RIBA Part 2 programme, but provides greater flexibility in terms of study choices, allowing you to engage with the interests of our research staff.
The programme focuses on design-led research techniques and methods to inform your learning process and research explorations. You will develop your existing design skills by focussing on how design thinking might address current global challenges. This approach offers an intense and lively forum for the exploration and discussion of design issues. This is why we place particular emphasis on using design as a means to conduct research. Researching through design is a creative activity that closely integrates the process of designing with the act of researching, so that they can mutually inform each other. You will explore problems by making and testing design propositions, introducing and developing established knowledge as and when required. Through project work, you will draw on knowledge from many disciplines.
Students will have the options to develop their design thinking in a range of areas related to the School’s diverse areas of research and scholarship.
You will work in small groups called ‘Design Units’ under the guidance of a Unit Leader, who will be an experienced tutor in research and architectural design. You will also work independently to develop a design-research approach to your studies. This will require you to question and evaluate evidence and think creatively, experimentally and iteratively. Emphasis will be on individual discovery and personal reflection as a learning process.
- Study in one of the top Schools of Architecture in the UK.
- Learn from notable and award-winning design-led practitioners and researchers.
- Perfect for students who are aiming for a practice-based, active approach to learning through our focus on investigation through design.
- Choose from a range of optional modules to supplement your learning in areas of interest to you and develop important skills in design-based research.
|Next intake||September 2020|
This programme would be suitable for graduates in architecture or a similar design-led subject (such as area, landscape architecture, urban design or interior design).
Applicants should normally hold a first or second class Honours degree. Students would be expected to show high levels of creative design thinking through their academic transcript and through the submission of an A3/A4 portfolio of academic project work.
Portfolios should provide evidence of imaginative & conceptual thinking, spatial sensibility, technical resolution and overall communication of ideas. Portfolios must be accompanied by endorsement from the student’s previous educational establishment confirming that the work is their own.
Applicants should apply through the University’s online application system. The School will then contact applicants directly to arrange for the portfolio to be sent.
Applicants whose first language is not English or Welsh must satisfy the English Language requirements for entry to the University by attainment of a minimum IELTS overall score of 6.5 or equivalent (no less than 6.0 in any individual component).
Find out more about English language requirements.
Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements
This programme is available on a one-year full-time basis. You will be based in the Welsh School of Architecture for the duration of the programme. The taught element of this programme is structured around a 60-credit design module where you will use techniques of research through design to explore an issue of interest related to one of the Design Units. This will normally run between October and April and will conclude with a design Portfolio submission and a final presentation in front of a panel of reviewers. Your work in the design studio is complimented by a 30-credit module analysing architectural precedent, and a choice of optional study modules.
You will usually start the dissertation element of the programme in May and complete this over the summer. The dissertation is the culmination of your design research throughout the programme. The dissertation usually comprises of a documented design project, accompanied by a 5,000-6,000-word critical commentary. Support for developing the necessary skills of research through design will be provided during the taught elements of the programme.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.
During your year on the programme, you will focus on developing a design-research agenda, defining and establishing your own position in architectural design. The topics covered are usually structured around thematic studios, or Design 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 and usually in close connection with real stakeholders and real contexts.
You will undertake analysis of architectural precedent within the studio environment and choose 30 credits worth of optional modules, chosen from a list of subjects based on the research interests of the staff in the school. This list is reviewed on an annual basis. You can choose any combination of 10 and 20 credit modules for your option.
For your dissertation you will work independently using the skills that have been developed during the taught programme to develop a critical research argument through design. This will involve completing a design thesis project. You will be expected to supplement this with a 5,000-6,000-word critical written commentary.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Issues in Contemporary Architecture||AR3003||10 credits|
|Passive Design||ART028||10 credits|
|Low Carbon Buildings||ART035||10 credits|
|Climate Comfort and Energy||ART041||20 credits|
|Perspectives on Performance||ART101||20 credits|
|Architectural Technology 3A||ART702||10 credits|
|Computational Form Finding||ART802||20 credits|
How will I be taught?
Most of your time in the School will be spent in the design studio. Our key pedagogic approach in the design studio is a combination between a varied range of teaching techniques, such as design-research workshops, Unit design seminars and one-to-one tutorials. These are supported by Course and Unit-based lectures and group assignments.
We offer a range of working spaces, workshops and computer aided design facilities to support this. The studio is the location for design teaching, model-making tutorials, workshops and debate. It is also used for exhibitions, reviews and “crits” – reviews at which students display their work for critical discussion and assessment by staff, fellow students and visiting critics. Working both formally and informally with your fellow students in the studio provides opportunities for valuable peer-review and discussion around your work.
You will be taught both by permanent academic staff and tutors from leading UK practices, providing an exciting mix of design research 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, but also we have strong European and international links.
The School encourages effective student-led and independent learning, whether through site analysis, library research or “reflective practice”.
Your studies will also include workshops, lectures and seminars as part of optional modules, and as support for the design module. Teaching also includes the provision of online learning materials, such as briefs, bibliographies, readings and precedents, as appropriate to the module. We aim to make appropriate use of audio-visual support to aid learning and development of subject-specific skills. You will be given access to relevant teaching materials through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central.
The dissertation element of the programme is conducted through the process of design, continuing on from your taught design project completed in the first part of the course. We advise that you continue to meet with your design unit tutor on a weekly basis until June. This is usually followed by a period of reflection and writing (self-directed studies) where you will work independently under the guidance of your Unit tutor and under the supervision of the programme leader and other members of the academic staff.
How will I be supported?
Contact time with staff is high and you will receive regular feedback on your progress throughout the course though your weekly tutorials. The Programme Convener is responsible for overseeing 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 journals.
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.
Modules within the programme make extensive use of the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including recordings of lectures, and links to related materials.
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.
Formative feedback on coursework is usually given using a standard feedback pro-forma and is often also given orally.
You will usually receive your feedback from the module leader and the Unit Leaders. If you have questions regarding your feedback, module leaders are usually happy to give advice and guidance on your progress.
How will I be assessed?
Design projects and related exercises are assessed continuously, often through pin-up reviews and where feedback is given. At the end of the year, a portfolio of all design-related work is presented for formal examination by panels of reviewers.
Optional modules are usually assessed through written examination and coursework submitted during the semester. Please read the module descriptions for your chosen optional modules to find out more about the ways they are assessed.
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.
What skills will I practise and develop?
The Learning outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you and academic staff will focus on precisely what they want you to achieve within each Module.
Knowledge & Understanding:
On completing the programme, you should be able to:
- Critically understand how knowledge is advanced through design-led research to produce clear, logically argued and original written and design work relating to architectural culture, theory and design.
On completing the programme, you should be able to:
- Pursue a personal design-research agenda within the context of the School’s research portfolio.
Professional Practical Skills:
On completing the programme, you should be able to:
- Generate complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural issues, originality in the application of subject knowledge and, where appropriate, ability to test new hypotheses and speculations.
- Evaluate materials, processes and techniques that apply to complex architectural designs and building construction, and to integrate these into practicable design proposals.
On completing the programme you should be able to:
- Demonstrate problem solving skills, professional judgment, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances.
- Identify individual learning needs and understand the personal responsibility required to prepare for work within the architectural profession.
- Evaluate and apply a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media to test, analyse, critically appraise and explain design proposals.
Whilst many of our graduates will choose to undertake a career within architecture or other built environment professions, the programme provides a large number of transferable skills which will be of benefit across a wide range of professions. The focus on independent, project based learning is welcomed by employers in that it provides graduates with skills in creative thinking, conceptual organisation, critical reflection and taking initiative.
UK and EU students (2020/21)
Fees for entry 2020/21 are not yet available.
Students from outside the EU (2020/21)
Fees for entry 2020/21 are not yet available.
The University will cover any additional costs that are essential for you to pass the programme. For this reason you will be provided with a small financial allocation as required. The details of this will be provided by your Programme Lead throughout the academic year.
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.
We will provide any equipment that is essential to the course. However, we recommend that you bring a laptop computer with appropriate software (e.g. word processing), USB or a hard drive, general stationary and some basic drawing equipment.
We provide students with student licenses for most of the specialist software we use on the course, however we can currently only guarantee that these work on computers with a Windows operating system.
During the course, you will have access to the specialist Architecture Library, and other University libraries, and study spaces across campus. Within the School, you may work in our design studios, use our computing suites, and use our facilities which include large-format plotters, a digital laser cutter and a well-equipped workshop.
During the course we go on a range of study trips in the UK, Europe, or further afield. On these trips we will organise guided visits to urban areas, public spaces and buildings that demonstrate how principles taught in the programme are applied in innovative ways. You will also have the opportunity to meet local stakeholders, architects and built environment professionals who collaborate with the School. In previous years, students have travelled and developed their projects in Barcelona, Palermo, Athens, Venice, Rome and the Ruhr Valley, amongst other places.