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Course content

At the heart of the course is a unique and radical idea about teaching design. Embedded in the curriculum is a process, which enables students to develop their own design methods. The course has a distinct, and clear character. Students acquire unfamiliar basic skills in modules attached to the main design course. These relate to the expanded world of architecture, in particular photography, film-making, and the devising of narratives. 

The development of imagination, individuality, and inspiration are key. It needs to be said that underlying this is a preference for complexity, asymmetry, and incompleteness. These are qualities that have a positive correlation with independence, originality, verbal fluency, breadth of interest, impulsiveness, and expansiveness, which stimulate the search for, and production of, new approaches, and reject facile solutions.

This essentially experimental process is based on the development of an experiential understanding of the world. At the heart of this approach to teaching is a whole set of values which redefine the function of architecture in terms of the human relationships that underlie society, how people really live, relate to each other and use the physical context of their environment. 

Over the 10 years of this course running, the results have been spectacular and innovative.

Why choose this course?

  • Oxford Brookes University is unusual in offering this design-based speculative research course in architecture that builds on its excellent reputation for architectural courses at postgraduate and undergraduate level.
  • Brookes' School of Architecture is recognised as one of the country's leading schools and is consistently ranked by The Architects' Journal as one of the five best schools in the UK. 
  • Students from the school figure regularly in national and international prizes and awards, and go on to work for many of the best-known practices in the country. 
  • We have an international reputation in research, in areas ranging from sustainable design to modular buildings and from design for well-being to vernacular architecture. 
  • Staff in the school regularly secure research funding from the UK's research councils and the European Union as well as industry, with an annual research grant income averaging £1,000,000 in recent years. This research expertise feeds directly into the teaching programme at all levels, from undergraduate to PhD.
  • The School of Architecture has dedicated studio space and postgraduate facilities.

Teaching and learning

Studio research is complemented by a series of challenging talks by visiting academics and practitioners at every stage of the process as well as a consistent programme of individual discussions and workshops with your tutors.

You will work both in groups and individually, exploring a new kind of architecture. The methods of exploration include techniques primarily associated with the movie industry, such as the making of collages, optical composites, physical models and drawings both by hand and computer. The tutors act as guides to reveal areas of interest so that you develop an individual approach to the brief, the programme and the realisation of a project.

Teaching is heavily design-studio based, with project-based learning in a studio environment. Several parallel studies may operate, offering different methodologies but with common learning outcomes. The design studio will be complemented by a series of lectures, reviews, tutorials and site visits.

Approach to assessment

The assessment on the taught modules is 100% coursework, comprising design presentations, seminar papers and essays.

The studio critiques by an invited jury provide formative feedback.

The dissertation element can comprise a project, artefact or portfolio in a variety of media, or written work.

Specialist facilities

Videography, photography and digital:

Exploring and understanding the environment through video and photography is an important part of the programme - equipment is available to borrow for free from the School of Architecture. Although a home PC or laptop is often a requisite for an architectural course, the School provides well specified computers in its design studios that are equipped with all the software you might need.

Visit the MArch Architecture page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!





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