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Architecture - MArch/PGDip


Course Description

It is expected that applicants from the field of architecture will already possess an accredited graduate diploma or postgraduate degree in architecture (UK), a professional master's in architecture (US), or the international equivalent.

The MArch course is an experimentally minded design studio. You will be working with students from all over the world to generate design proposals that explore the edges of architectural thought.

There is an emphasis not only on the materials and techniques of construction but also elements such as air, heat, water, sound, smell and lights as materials too. This exploration will involve visits to factories and workshops where materials are manipulated in a variety of unusual ways, and also practical experimentation and testing in the studio environment.

This programme offers the opportunity to explore ideas in great detail, resulting in a thesis that might take the form of a video, set of drawings or physical model. The portfolio generated alongside the thesis will act as a curated record of your findings.

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.

This course in detail

The Advanced Architectural Design Modules (50+30 credits) represent the core of the learning experience. Project–based learning is used in a studio environment to individually and collectively explore architectural design problems. The design studio tutors will set the specific design problem and methodology employed. It is envisaged that several parallel studios may be established, numbers permitting, each led by separate studio tutors with different agendas, programmes and methodologies. However, the learning outcomes will be common. Initially, there will be only one studio which will be organised as follows:

The first semester is always a rigid organised fabric of reviews, workshops, tutorials and deadlines with students working both individually and in groups. Within this framework students engage in two strands of investigation: A. an in-depth research into the tectonic possibilities of a new material/s and B. the analysis of a real site with the aim of generating a series of questions that demand an architectural response. By the end of the semester each student is expected to present to a jury of invited critics a catalogue both conceptual and material, from which they will make a project, in a coherent manner using appropriate media. This jury provides formative feedback for students on their learning.

The first semester design studio is complimented by a series of challenging, group and individual based workshops, Urban Cultures, on drawing, model making and movie making, run by the tutors. Students are expected to engage in questioning and debate with the lecturers and are required to produce a series of responses in drawn and written forms, which contribute to their design portfolio, around a theme related to the lecture series.

Spread over the second semester there is a further series of lectures on Architecture and the City given by external academics and practitioners. Students are expected to engage in questioning and debate with the lecturers and are required to produce a series of responses in drawn and written forms to exercises set by the visiting lecturer. The results are to be bound into a book, which contributes to and supports their design portfolio, around a theme related to the lecture series.

The second semester design studio focuses on the architectural implications of bringing the two apparently dissimilar strands of the first semester’s investigation into surprising conjunctions. Students are asked to approach the possibilities created by these apparently disconnected procedures in an entirely logical way.
At this stage the studio places emphasis on the importance of developing students’ ability to demonstrate conceptual clarity, to locate their ideas in the spectrum of current and past architecture and to maintain a strong link between concept and product.

Students are also encouraged to explore a wide range of media and technique and to develop a rationale for selecting appropriate techniques for the representation of particular kinds of architectural ideas. Students are required to present their design projects to an invited group of invited critics close to the end of the semester.

This proves formative feedback for students. The final Module mark is generated from a portfolio-based assessment held at the end of the second semester involving a panel internal staff. This system will ensure a parity of marking when the module consists of multiple design studios.

Students also undertake a Research Methods Module in the second semester that prepares them for their dissertation project. A set of generic postgraduate school-wide lectures on research paradigms, methodology and research tools is followed by Masters specific seminars in which students develop a synopsis for their dissertation’. The module is assessed by means of a review of a relevant past Masters dissertation and a synopsis proposal.

The MArch programme concludes with the Dissertation Project in which individual students work with a supervisor on projects that have developed from the work of the design studio. Students are expected to produce original, relevant and valid projects. The dissertation can take a written or design based form. In the latter case a written commentary is expected as part of the dissertation submission. Students submit their dissertation projects at the end of the summer vacation and are expected to hold an exhibition of their work in the Department or elsewhere as agreed.

Students who have qualified for the award of MA are encouraged to apply to continue to the PhD degree programme in the School if they so wish. A Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Architectural Design can be gained by students who complete 120 credits but do not complete the full master's programme.

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.

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

Entry Requirements

Admission to the course will normally be open to applicants who fulfil one of the following requirements: hold a good approved undergraduate honours degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in architecture or in a discipline relevant to architecture; have an appropriate professional background and experience of designing architecture or designing in a discipline that has a strong relationship or similarities to architecture; are students in their final year of the MArchD in Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, who have demonstrated their proficiency in written and design work.

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