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Masters Degrees (Placemaking)

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The Studio is a part of three studio project series and it is the International Placemaking Studio, preceded by the Nordic Studio - Urban Public Places and Advanced Urban Space Studio. Read more
The Studio is a part of three studio project series and it is the International Placemaking Studio, preceded by the Nordic Studio - Urban Public Places and Advanced Urban Space Studio. The aim for all three studios is to foresee urban planning and design issues and problems that will be coming into the public focus in the near future. After completing this international studio the students will be able to fully grasp and understand the dynamic conditions acting on modern cities, specifically issues of regional urbanization, urbanistic genericism and informal globalization. Creating consciousness through concrete examples that place the social reality of a site at the forefront of political discussion will be a nunaced element that the students will acquire during the course of their work with the project. Students will be able to adopt a placemaking approach that is a humanistic process defined by reality. The studio adopts concrete strategies for physical appropriation and production through the students work which will envision a platform for public performance to serve as a catalyst for social reform. Finally the studio offers students a completely different approach to intervention in the public realm, one of kinetic accupuncture method based on inclusivity and transformative placemaking strategies - making a public space into a living place. [STUDIO WILL FEATURE AND INTERNATIONAL STUDY TRIP WITHIN THE PROJECT]

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The combination of accelerated climate and environmental change, resource pressures and rapidly evolving social, legal and political contexts demand that the planner of the future is better equipped with the science, tools and skills to help shape the high quality multi-functional places we increasingly need. Read more
The combination of accelerated climate and environmental change, resource pressures and rapidly evolving social, legal and political contexts demand that the planner of the future is better equipped with the science, tools and skills to help shape the high quality multi-functional places we increasingly need.

What's covered in the course?

On this course, you will learn to identify and evaluate the processes, tools and outcomes of planning that lead to more sustainable places across the built environment.

You will learn how to critically assess planning theory and practice and respond to the growing demand for planning practitioners, strategists and consultants to address contemporary and future planning and development challenges within their environmental context.

This course will enable you to understand the development process and the wider linkages with other built environment professions as well as develop the skills required to assess, analyse and offer practical sustainable solutions to spatial planning problems.

You will experience applied and autonomous learning through the use of real problems and case study materials and develop your problem-solving abilities, practical competencies, critical appraisal and written and oral communication skills.

This course also encourages inter-disciplinary working amongst graduates and professionals from a variety of backgrounds employed within a planning and environment context.

Why choose us?

-This course uses our expertise across sustainability, real estate and planning as well as external experts in planning research and practice to address key challenges and opportunities across the built environments.
-This course is underpinned by an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and topics that explore the environmental, economic, social, political and administrative contexts to planning and development and the relationship between planning and other spatial and non-spatial policy mechanisms.
-The course has good connections with Birmingham City Council. During the Managerial Skills module, you will have the opportunity to meet strategic staff from the Council’s planning department and beyond.
-Birmingham, both the city and the university, is going through an exciting period of redevelopment. You will be based at the University’s City Centre campus, at the heart of redevelopment activities.

Course in depth

This course seeks to shape you as a highly competent professional who can continue to develop not only yourself but also the broader sector.

Practice and research-informed learning, teaching and assessment strategies emphasise problem solving, team working and wider appreciation, with functional and procedural knowledge framed within this broader context.

The course will include problem-based enquiry and learning using the environment as an integrative setting, encourage the demonstration of key competencies within a professional, vocational context driven by engagement with practice and prepare you for a future in which the ability to think and change will be key skills.

Broadly speaking, the teaching strategy moves from staff-led during the early stages of the course to student-led towards the end. The early part of the course is intended to provide you with the basic knowledge and skills to understand how the spatial planning system operates and the need to embed the environmental services lens in processes in order to connect planning across different sectors, land uses and scales. This is achieved through staff-led lectures, seminars and workshops.

Later stages of the course are designed to develop your critical and reflective capabilities and make the links between the various spatial dimensions of planning, and between spatial and non-spatial policy intervention. The emphasis is on interactive learning, including student-led workshops, role-plays and simulations to achieve deeper learning and understanding.

We use visiting teachers, field study visits and research informed teaching to engage you with practice and topical issues. The sharing of appropriate modules across courses helps to enrich your educational experience, and expose you to the perspectives, values and attitudes of students from other disciplines.

The assessment strategy for each module reflects the learning outcomes. Modules that seek to test your ability to assimilate basic information and key concepts and reconstitute them without ready access to source material do so through written examinations. Modules that seek to test higher-order problem-solving skills do so through a variety of formative and assessed coursework methods including essays, evaluations, verbal presentations, posters, planning reports, design presentations, group work, role play scenarios or exams.

-Foundations of Planning 20 credits
-Governance of Built and Natural Environments 20 credits
-Development Project 20 credits
-Valuation 20 credits
-Placemaking 20 credits
-Professional Practice 20 credits
-Dissertation 60 credits

This course is accredited by the following organisations:

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
This course is accredited by the professional planning body, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). The course is designed as a fast track to a professional qualification accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Successful completion of this course will lead to Professional Membership after the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
RICS is the world's leading professional body for setting standards in the surveying industry. It has members all around the globe delivering knowledge and serving the public interest at a local level. In their work, they draw on RICS' ever-growing range of globally applicable and regionally specific standards and guidance.


Birmingham City University programmes aim to provide graduates with a set of attributes which prepare them for their future careers. The BCU Graduate:
-Is professional and work ready
-Is a creative problem solver
-Is enterprising
-Has a global outlook

The University has introduced the Birmingham City University Graduate+ programme, which is an extra-curricular awards framework that is designed to augment the subject based skills that you develop through your programme with broader employability skills and techniques that will enhance your employment options when you leave university.

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The Master of Architecture provides a vibrant, challenging and expansive programme aimed at equipping you with the professional and creative skills for a successful career as an architect and leads to Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Part 2 exemption. Read more

Why take this course?

The Master of Architecture provides a vibrant, challenging and expansive programme aimed at equipping you with the professional and creative skills for a successful career as an architect and leads to Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Part 2 exemption. Through the design studios you will be exposed to a range of related architectural interests, including urbanism, landscape, practice, sustainability and culture, providing a cross-disciplinary learning environment that is appropriate in today’s professionally complex architectural world. We can also provide all incoming, full-time MArch students with funding toward a Course field trip.

What will I experience?

On this course you will undertake studio-based design projects, with opportunities to:

Engage with current collaborative projects with academic institutions in other countries – in the past these have included Turkey, Spain, Denmark and Australia
Work on projects with 'live' clients through our RIBA registered Project Office practice
Opt to study at a choice of European universities through the ERASMUS exchange scheme

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is professionally accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). It is structured to ensure the integration and synthesis of contextual, technical and professional complexities inherent within the design process, helping you to engage with the prescribed ARB/RIBA criteria, and attain RIBA Part 2 exemption.

Module Details

The design curriculum is delivered through studios, each having a distinct research topic relating to the research and practice of the studio tutors. The studio topics and pedagogy provide a framework and guidance for student projects in Year One and support in Year Two as you develop your particular thesis questions into design propositions. Studios topics change annually in response to current issues in practice and society, challenging the architectural profession, and offering variety in scale,content and context in the UK and abroad.

Please see our proposed 2016/17 MArch studios below. You can find more information on our course blog and see output in our MArch Gallery.

MArch Studios 2016-17*

Latent Culture- Exploring the Reading, Mapping and Making of Place: Mapping, reading and drawing out, Studio 1 will explore cartography, archaeology, memory, narrative and material of place. Through a series of thematic studies – text and making based – the studio will bring together an understanding of place using artefacts, films, maps and narratives.

Littoral Landscapes: Change Labs for Coastal Experimentation: This studio will experiment with the ‘seeds’ of transformation, focussing on littoral landscapes – coastal villages, towns and cities in the UK and abroad. The studio is the Lab, the seeds are about speculation, growth, invention and entrepreneurialism - small changes which can lead to revolutions.

Urban Futures. Cities constantly change in response to changes in society: Today, major environmental and economic challenges we are facing require new models for the built environment that are capable to be resource efficient, adaptable to environmental modifications and designed to facilitate placemaking.

The Emergent Studio: Architecture of, on and around the Edge: The Emergent Studio explores the idea of making architecture within cultural contexts that are not ‘our own’; always in a location that in some way exemplifies an edge condition. Our theoretical platform for exploring these conditions has been, and continues to be, rooted within phenomenology, drawing from the writings of the humane Nordic modernist tradition, in informing our methodologies of interrogation and design.

Portsmouth: The Anatomy of "The Island City”: This studio continues our reflections on Portsmouth's response to climate change induced rise in sea levels adding an analysis of infrastructures and their impact on developing Urban & Architectural visions for the city.

Tactical Urbanism: Tactical Urbanism will investigate, in a radical and provocative way, how a university environment will change in the future and create alternative and hypothetical social scenarios as starting point for your design project. The aim is not to create a futuristic environment but to challenge the current paradigms and try to address the real problems and issues that our society will face in a near 2050 future.

Coastal Latent Dynamics: Material Voids: This new studio will frame the architectural process, starting with a close up of the Micro (the detail, the material qualities of place, prototyping), continuing to a wide shot of the Macro (the notion of municipality in a coastal context) and then zooming into the Meso (dealing with the opportunities of voids, empty buildings and their environs).

*Please note: studio offers may change due to staff and student numbers.

Programme Assessment

You will be taught through a combination of individual and group tutorials in your selected studio, while year-wide units are lecture-based, complemented by seminars and workshops. Our studio-teaching method will mean that you will be working with tutors with professional and academic experience in their field and all unit programmes are complemented by contributions from external professionals.

Studio programmes will often entail shared sessions with European and, sometimes, other overseas institutions, in countries such as Denmark, Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain. Representatives of local public and private bodies and agencies frequently contribute to studio tutorials and crits. All this helps to ensure that your learning and studio research outputs can have regional impact and global reach.

Design assessment is through studio review (crit) as work progresses and portfolio assessment at the end of the academic year. ‘Taught’ units, in support of the design curriculum, are assessed through various forms of illustrated written coursework – both individual and group, such as reports and the Dissertation.

Student Destinations

Careers in architecture are demanding ever-increasing specialism and professional competence.

The unique learning experience we offer on this course will enable you to develop as an expansive, creative and professional individual capable of success in a range of creative and professional environments. The breadth of engagement with the discipline and range of studios ensures that you will become confident in responding to the demands of the profession. The regional, national and international destinations of the School’s alumni are testament to this, as are our graduate employment take-up statistics.

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