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Course content

The aim of this programme is to provide students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the management and legal aspects of design, and the skills necessary to successfully administer the procurement of design services and building projects.


The MDA is a new programme that aims to equip students with the expertise necessary for the successful administration and management the design process in the procurement of buildings. It is intended to fulfil the growing need for experts in design management, working within consultancies, or in contracting or specialist contractor firms, or in client bodies.

The aim of this programme is to provide students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the management and legal aspects of design, and the skills necessary to successfully administer the procurement of design services and building projects. It will examine all stages in the production of a building, from inception through to completion, handover, and post-occupancy, focussing on the management challenges in defining and delivering design objectives.

The MDA explores how the legislative and economic context impacts on design and project feasibility. It looks at the engagement and management of design teams, both within firms, or where design is provided by an integrated supply chain. Traditional procurement, where the design process is separate from the construction process, is contrasted with routes where the design is developed in parallel with construction. Examples of the latter are collaborative and alliancing models, often coupled with building information management and novel insurance arrangements. Choosing the appropriate procurement routes, management methods and communications systems is key to ensuring the design is delivered successfully. Some of the MDA modules focus on the UK, whereas others are applicable internationally. One module examines international procurement, including cross-border projects, and development constraints and enablers in other countries.

Although new, the MDA has been developed from an existing degree that has been running very successfully for over twelve years. It receives excellent feedback, and has been commended by the RIBA over successive visits. We have taken the best elements of the existing degree and combined them with several new features, to create an exciting and unique programme. The particular blend of topics offered, and the title MDA, are unique so far as we are aware.

The programme is open to all graduate construction professionals, and those concerned with the procurement and management of buildings (for example clients, architects, engineers, surveyors, and design-build and specialist contractors). It is expected that they have several years experience in industry, as well as a primary qualification in a related field.

The MDA is a blended learning programme which combines online study with Cardiff based short courses.

Distinctive features

  • Combines management and legal aspects of procurement, with a unique focus on design aspects
  • Addresses current topics of key interest to construction professionals, including cutting edge procurement arrangements
  • Based on acclaimed research expertise within the Welsh School of Architecture and run by a leading author and expert in the field
  • Delivered by a team of invited expert academics and professionals
  • Study while you work in practice; this course is taught by distance learning and Cardiff-based short courses
  • Benefit from a small cohort size, interactive workshops and master classes, group working and peer review
  • Assessment methods via a wide variety of written assignments, no examinations
  • Supported by an active alumni network.
  • Available as a one year full-time or three year part-time qualification

Learning and assessment

On this course you will be taught through blended learning: a combination of distance learning methods and on-site courses.

The distance learning methods will mainly be delivered through detailed course notes and guided reading. We will also send you regular written feedback on your work. There will be one half-day on-line seminar event for each module. Recordings of lectures and seminars will also be available on-line through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central.

The distance learning element is supplemented by on-site courses, normally two days per module, where the aim is to build on the base knowledge established through course notes and through advanced seminars given by leading experts. These will normally be interactive and involve group workshops, which are designed to encourage you to share experience and knowledge gained in practice. These short courses play an important role in our teaching, as they offer you an opportunity to interact with fellow students.

Due to the nature of this course, you are responsible for reading any emails sent by module tutors or announcements made through Learning Central on a frequent basis.

Career prospects

Students who undertake this course are required to already be in employment. However, this course is designed to enhance their professional development, and aid in career progression.

Visit the Design Administration - MDA page on the Cardiff University website for more details!




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