The MArch (Part 2) is a long-established and well-respected course that is prescribed by the ARB and validated by the RIBA to give exemption from the second stage of professional education. The emphasis of the course is on innovative design work, and on developing a caring and critical approach to the study and practice of architecture.
The course fosters diversity of choice, interpretation and approach, whether in design projects or more academic research. The former focuses on sophisticated design programmes (in formal, technical, professional or urban terms) that demand rigour and self-criticism. The latter focuses on your major dissertation, an extended piece of specialised research into architecture and its historical or theoretical contexts.
The course has three main objectives: to develop your design ability through project-based experimentation; to present an evaluation and critique of your coursework within a broad cultural context, and in light of technical, economic and legal constraints; and to promote the articulate explanation and representation of quality and value in design projects.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.
Year One, Semester One
DESIGN PROJECT 1 (Year 1 DESIGN STUDIO)
This single design project, or series of linked design projects, is individual to each elective Design Studio, and is run in parallel with the Year 2 Design Studio. You choose your Design Studio following presentations by all the Design Studio tutors at the beginning of the academic year; each Design Studio offers a new project every year. Projects lead from exploratory research to the development of an individual brief, and a design proposal which you develop for assessment at the end of Semester One.
This module focuses on digital media technology and computer-based strategies, including the principles of 2D and 3D computer drawing, modelling, rendering, animation and digital fabrication techniques. The module aims to extend your practical and theoretical understanding of advanced digital media, as well as to enhance your existing computing knowledge and skills - so assessment is on a 'value-added' basis.
This module draws on your work experience and introduces statutory, professional and management concepts related to the 'professional' development of your coursework. It asks you to reflect on your prior experience and personal development, and to identify areas for future investigation. The module introduces you to the role of the architect in the construction industry (including development and procurement issues), and to the professional, managerial and legal constraints that influence the work of the architect in practice.
DESIGN PROJECT 2 (Year 1 DESIGN STUDIO)
Commonly, though not exclusively, the theme or context of Design Project 2 involves developing or testing aspects of the Design Project 1 through further research or exploratory projects. This module, however, places greater emphasis on the detailed resolution of the individual design proposal, often at a larger scale, and deals more explicitly with the issues of programme, materiality, technology and environmental impact. The module is run in parallel with the Year 2 Design Studio.
HISTORY AND THEORY
This module consists of specialist seminar study and a series of wider module-wide lectures, and begins a year-long study of architectural history and theory which culminates with your dissertation submission in Year Two. Following presentations by all the seminar group leaders at the beginning of the semester, you choose a seminar group with its own particular theme and programme of study. Based on this, you select an individual area of research, and develop it through writing and a presentation; you also prepare an abstract for your Dissertation.
TECHNICAL STUDIES IN PRACTICE
This module requires you, individually or within a group, to carry out research into different approaches to, and kinds of, technology and environmental design. You will need to look at the wider cultural issues involved, but more especially at issues of sustainability in design. This is expected to inform your Design Studio project work.
Year Two, Semester One
The Dissertation is the primary focus of architectural history and theory teaching, and the main written component of the course. Building on your abstract, you research into primary and secondary sources, define and refine a methodology, produce a draft synopsis, and, finally, complete a 10,000-word dissertation with footnotes, bibliography and illustrations. If you explore another mode of study, such as making a film or designing a website, you will still need to meet a lower word limit of 6,000 words.
MAIN DESIGN PROJECT (YEAR 2 DESIGN STUDIO)
As with Design Studio 1, this is individual to each elective Design Studio, and you choose your Design Studio following presentations by all the Design Studio tutors at the beginning of the academic year. The module is integrated with the subsequent Design Development module, and these two modules usually create a single overarching project for the final academic year. The module is run in parallel with the Year 1 Design Studio, however, Year 2 students are expected to pursue, and resolve, a more ambitious and sophisticated thesis.
APPLIED TECHNICAL STUDIES
In this module you complete an applied technical study concurrent with the progression of your main Design Studio project. This integrated report explains and deepens the environmental, structural and constructional strategies inherent to your design thinking and your project.
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT (YEAR 2 DESIGN STUDIO)
This module follows on from the Main Design Project, and asks you to elaborate, test, adapt and develop your design project proposal to produce a well-resolved architectural design. This module encourages you to communicate your ideas, research work and design proposals in a range of media at an advanced level. You also integrate your presentation with your work in the Strategic Report and Applied Technical Studies modules. The module is run in parallel with the Year 1 Design Studio.
This module is a substantial report that is integrated with your main Design Studio project, and the Applied Technical Studies module. The report focuses on exploring and explaining the critical project decisions made as part of the design process. The module introduces various approaches to the report - methodologies, techniques, selected building precedents - through seminars and Design Studio group tutorials.