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Computational Methods in Architecture (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

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Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This course addresses the need for creative professionals who are equipped with the IT skills, digital fabrication skills, simulation software skills, or the ability to design custom-software development tools to solve unique design problems.

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Innovative learning

Learn innovative algorithmic design methods in architecture.

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Gain practical experience

Gain practical experience with our in-house advanced digital fabrication equipment, including a large industrial robotic arm.

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Build your own digital tools

Build your own digital tools through visual programming and scripting.

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Participate in teamwork

Participate in multi-disciplinary teamwork that mirrors professional practice.

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Benefit from multi-disciplinary expertise

Benefit from multi-disciplinary expertise from research staff across the schools of architecture, computer science and engineering.

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Tailor your learning

Tailor your learning to your own interests and needs and develop specific expertise through optional modules and a student-led research project

This course addresses the need for creative professionals who are equipped with the IT skills, digital fabrication skills, simulation software skills, or the ability to design custom-software development tools to solve unique design problems. Our multidisciplinary approach will provide students with the knowledge and skills to discover innovative computational methods for use in the creative and design industries. In particular, we will look at form-finding using parametric and generative methods, preparing digital information for further rigorous analysis, and integrating the logic of digital fabrication into the early stages of design.

You will be taught by experts across the subjects of architecture, computer science and engineering, which will give you a distinctly interdisciplinary approach to looking at design.

The ethos of the course is based on the concept of rigorous creativity where algorithmic thinking, systematic parametric design, analytic methods, creative intuition and tectonic sensibilities are integrated into a more innovative design outcome than traditional methods currently allow.

During the course, you will be able to develop and specialise in areas of interest to you through a range of optional modules and your choice of dissertation topic. Topics you may specialise in include algorithmic thinking in parametric design and form-finding, performance-based design and analysis, or design for digital fabrication.

Where you'll study

Welsh School of Architecture

We aim to make the world a better place through contextually sensitive, sustainable and beautiful architecture.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4430
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB

Admissions criteria

Academic requirements 
Typically, you will need to have either:

  • a 2:1 honours degree in architecture, computer science, engineering, interior design, landscape architecture, or urban design
  • a university-recognised equivalent academic qualification
  • or relevant professional experience evidenced by a reference.

English Language requirements 
IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or an accepted equivalent.

Other essential requirements 
You will also need to provide:

  • an academic or professional portfolio of your work to evidence your understanding of the field of computational methods in architecture and some initial experience in the use of digital tools. Portfolios should be a maximum of eight (8) pages and provide evidence of imaginative, conceptual, and systematic thinking, technical resolution, and clear communication of information and ideas.
  • a personal statement which includes your reasons for studying this programme and any experience with issues related to digital design and computational methods in architecture within your previous studies or professional career.

Application deadline
We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible.

Selection process
We will review your application and if you meet the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

This full-time programme is taught over one year, during which you will develop a project-based dissertation, supported by regular tutorials. Some module content will be delivered through intensive workshops during block weeks while other module content will be delivered weekly. The course will include core modules that present fundamental concepts and a series of more optional and advanced modules allowing you to specialise in one or more topics. We use a combination of individual and group work to assess your progress. The course will culminate in a student-led dissertation accompanied by a 5000-word reflective essay. 

 

 

 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

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In each semester, you will sit a total of 60 credits, including both core and optional modules.

The student-led dissertation, from June to September, offers a unique and exciting opportunity for you to develop and pursue your own research agenda, discovering new knowledge and integrating several methods into new and innovative workflows. Working with a supervisor, your dissertation will comprise a computationally-based investigation that can have various deliverables including, but not limited to any combination of: visual presentations, computer code and scripts, digitally manufactured artefacts, video and animations, multi-media performances, or responsive environments and mechanisms. It will be accompanied by a reflective essay that explains the background, the thinking behind the project, the methodology, chronicles your investigation, and presents the main findings and conclusions of the research project. The reflective essay and the research project deliverables will be assessed by a panel of assessors.

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.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

We aim to provide an exceptional environment for computational methods in architecture education and reflect our current research strengths and interests. This programme has been carefully designed to enable you to realise your maximum potential. We aim to deliver expert teaching, and comprehensive pastoral care. 

The methods of teaching we employ will vary from module to module, as appropriate depending on the subject matter and the method of assessment. We teach using a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops, and one-on-one and group tutorials. Lectures will explain overall concepts, seminars and workshops will guide you through the technical aspects of the module, and one-on-one and group tutorials will answer questions and help you with your project. Teaching also includes the provision of online learning materials as appropriate to the module. 

The dissertation element of the programme is conducted through the process of design, continuing on from your taught modules completed in the first part of the course. We advise that you continue to meet with your tutor on a weekly basis. This is usually followed by a period of reflection and writing where you will work independently under the guidance of your tutor and under the supervision of the programme leader or another member of the academic staff. 

How will I be assessed?

The modules are normally assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework assessments may take the form of written practical reports, structured reports, class tests, structured answer tests, group work, poster and oral presentations and computing problem-solving exercises. Assessments may be summative and count towards the final module mark, or formative, helping you to learn and practice key skills and knowledge through feedback. Final examinations at the end of each module may comprise a structured answer section (assessing breadth of knowledge) and/or a written answer section (assessing depth of knowledge in specific topics). Your dissertation project is assessed by a supervisor’s evaluation and a written report.

How will I be supported?

The Course Coordinator is assigned as your Personal Tutor and will be able to provide you with advice, whilst maintaining an overview of your learning and educational experiences. If you are experiencing difficulties, your Personal Tutor will be there to listen and where possible provide professional guidance or else direct you to the appropriate source of support. At a minimum, Personal Tutor meetings will take place at least once per semester. This meeting can also serve as an opportunity for the discussion of your career goals, employability and professional development. 

All of the academic staff in the Welsh School of Architecture are experienced researchers in their respective fields and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and expertise with students. 

The primary interaction with academic staff will be during lectures, workshops or small-group tutorials. 

Lecturing staff are contactable at teaching sessions or by email, and operate either an ‘open door’ policy for students who have specific queries about course material, or a system of booking meeting times. Our Teaching Office is located in the Bute Building with friendly and experienced professional staff who can answer most administrative queries. 

Feedback

Feedback on your study, work, and progress will take many forms, from formal written comments on your submitted work to more informal conversations and advice during classes and practicals, or from your Personal Tutor. Throughout the course, we will provide detailed feedback on all assessed coursework. This is normally provided online through the ‘Feedback Studio’ system, allowing you to conveniently access your feedback via a computer or tablet device. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your academic and personal development progress with your Personal Tutor, and to discuss your work in order to improve your performance. During the research project, you will receive additional regular feedback from the supervising academic.

 

 

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.

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • Understand and critically evaluate theories of computing and computational methods.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the role of computational methods in the design process.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the role of computational methods in the digital fabrication process.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the role of computational methods in the construction process.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • Think algorithmically, systematically and creatively about integrating computational methods in the design process.
  • Think algorithmically, systematically and creatively about integrating computational methods in the digital fabrication process.
  • Think algorithmically, systematically and creatively about integrating computational methods in the construction process.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • Master practical methods in software development.
  • Master use of software for computational methods in design, digital fabrication, and building construction.
  • Effectively and creatively present abstract computational processes and their integration into a larger context.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • Lead and work in teams efficiently.
  • Set learning goals and identify resources for learning in a process of lifelong learning.
  • Identify and critically review relevant literature.
  • Recognise and respond to opportunities for innovation.
  • Develop and critically advance an individual research agenda to be concluded and presented in an original, academic work – written and/or design.
Our in-house robotic arm
Students on this course have access to extensive facilities, including our in-house robotic arm..

Tuition fees

Students from the UK

Tuition fee (2021/22)Deposit
£9,700None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees for 2021/22 will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Tuition fee (2021/22)Deposit
£21,950£1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

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?

This master’s is an intensive programme that relies heavily on computational tools and methods. You should therefore have some existing knowledge or interest in computational methods in architecture (e.g. parametric design, digital fabrication, visual programming methods). It is highly recommended that you possess an up-to-date laptop capable of handling complex 3D graphics. If you do not have a laptop, the school has an IT lab with several workstations that you may use for your work. Most software will need to be run using the Microsoft Windows operating system. However, Mac laptops can run Windows software through emulation. The software essential for this programme is available with a free student license or provided by the School. The following is a minimal initial list of software that is needed:

  • Rhinoceros 3D + Grasshopper 3D
  • Autodesk Revit + Dynamo
  • Autodesk 3ds Max

We will provide students with student licenses for additional specialist software (e.g. energy simulation etc) we use on the course, however we can currently only guarantee that these work on computers with a Windows operating system. Other software downloads will be given to you by your module leader.

You will have access to a suite of PC computers running the necessary software and use large-format plotters, a digital laser cutter, CNC router, large industrial robotic arm and a well-equipped workshop. We will provide any additional equipment that is essential to the course.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Career prospects

Whilst many of our graduates may choose to undertake a career within architecture or other built environment professions (e.g. engineering and construction, landscape, interior design), the programme provides a large number of transferable skills which will be of benefit across a wide range of professions.

The knowledge and skills gained in computational methods such as 3D modelling, rendering, animation, parametric design, digital fabrication, and building information modelling (BIM) are highly desired by employers from various industries who are seeking experts with IT skills. Examples include: furniture designers, jewellery design firms, graphic design firms, computer game development firms, and even movie and theatre set design firms. These companies regularly need IT skills, digital fabrication skills, simulation software skills, or custom-software development tools to solve unique design problems.

The focus on independent, project based learning as well as the ability to solve complex problems individually and in groups is often welcomed by employers in that it provides graduates with skills in creative thinking, conceptual organisation, critical reflection and taking initiative.

Funding

Master's Excellence Scholarships

An award open to students with a home fee status intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2021 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

Next steps

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