Modules

Core modules

Research and Positioning

The Research and Positioning module provides a foundation in postgraduate research methods and skills in architecture. It also aims to establish a set of principles and approaches to architectural research, including both conventional research methods and experimental and design-based techniques. The module also explores other forms of research practice drawn from related disciplines.

Image: Research and Positioning mapping workshop

Thesis Development and Major Thesis Project

The Thesis Development and Thesis modules provide the opportunity to focus on a piece of individual research and in-depth study leading to a written thesis or design-based research project. The thesis is undertaken in the context of thematically led research groups or 'labs' associated with each of the pathways. Typically thesis projects reflect contemporary issues or, where appropriate, draw upon historical, social or cultural aspects in architecture and spatial design.

The Thesis Development module prepares you for the subsequent Major Thesis Project by introducing research issues and themes within your chosen group. Throughout the first semester you will undertake a series of short projects and/ or studies designed to inspire and stimulate ideas for a thesis proposal.

The Major Thesis Project provides a framework for the exploration, development, synthesis and conclusion to your chosen area of study. The aim is to evolve the project initially formulated in the Thesis Development module, based on the application of relevant research methods. The course of study for the thesis project module will, as a consequence, also depend on the type/ format of research methods that you are pursuing for your thesis project.

Pathway/option modules

SEMESTER ONE

 

Critical Issues in Architecture

Critical Issues photo by Davide DeriuThis module deals in depth with a series of major theoretical and historical issues that are facing architecture across the world. The intention is for you to develop an advanced understanding of current debates in architecture by reflecting on the diverse meanings associated with a series of key concepts that are central to contemporary architectural discourse (eg 'space'; 'place'; 'landscape'; 'memory'; 'agency' etc). A combination of lectures, seminars and related activities will allow you to place these issues within a broad cultural context. Architectural texts will be complemented by various sources drawn from other disciplines, such as geography and anthropology. Besides exercising your critical thinking, reading and writing skills, you will also start to identify subject themes that you will develop in subsequent modules and through the Major Thesis Project.

Image by Davide Deriu

Programming and Computational Design

This module addresses the use of computer programming and computational techniques in architectural design. You will examine the application of scripting, physical computing and parametric modelling techniques to the exploration of form, interactivity, space and ideas. You will be introduced to some of the principles and techniques associated with the computer-controlled manufacture of models/building components, and gain an understanding of the essential elements of physical computing and automation. The module aims both to offer instruction in the use of scripting and programming (as applied to graphic expression/composition and geometric modelling) and also to explore the specific design potential latent in these techniques.

Image by Georgios Dimitrakopoulos

Theories of Identity

Students at the Theories of Identity workshop during the Architecture MA The aim of the module is to introduce you to the notion of the 'culturally sensitive and critical designer'. This will be done through a series of lectures/seminars to serve as a broad introduction to key concepts and texts (both classic and contemporary) within the disciplines of both architecture and cultural studies that relate to issues of cultural identity and globalisation. The module will also include the course field trip to an international destination (incorporating preparatory group-work) of significance to the theme of identity and architecture. The field trip will also serve as a compliment or contrast to London-based coursework projects (allowing distinctions and commonalities between cultural contexts to be considered). The ultimate objective of the module is to inspire and stimulate participants to explore broad themes within the subject area and, through an elective element, begin to identify their own themes of interest to explore beyond the module.

 

SEMESTER TWO

Applied Animation

Student work in Applied Animation by Edward LancasterThis module addresses the application of advanced 3D modelling and animation in architectural design. Grounded in the related practice of computational design, this module capitalises on the potential of contemporary animation software to simulate material qualities and behaviours, including the interaction of physical objects and complex mechanical or composite systems. The module introduces and investigates both the representational and the filmic qualities of animation, with a particular emphasis on the creative opportunities presented by such simulations to generate design content and productively inform the design process.

Image by Edward Lancaster

City Cultures: Conceptual Design for Complex Cultural Contexts

A studio design project that examines the nature and meaning of cultural identity, issues of globalisation etc in spatial and architectural terms; developing visual 'languages' and programmatic strategies that result in a design project of considerable conceptual, formal, spatial, material and technological resolution. You will work individually on your project, which will be based on a different topic of investigation each year, responding to current concerns about architecture within a specific urban and cultural context, as well as its broader global context. In each instance students will be required to investigate a particular cultural or urban issue relating to the notion of cultural identity and representation.

Image by Viada Venskune

Ethnographic Ways of Knowing: Critical and Creative Explorations of Site

Building on the conceptual emphasis of Semester One's 'Theories of Identity' module, this module will begin with introductory lectures on the historical evolution, key theoretical frameworks, and methods of ethnography. You will then develop their own ethnographic methodology to access, engage, and understand a particular 'site'. There will be an emphasis on creative and experimental approaches to methods such as participant observation, architectural and spatial analysis, interviewing, documentary, social media, and archival research. In addition to normative fieldwork methods, imaginative use of film, mapping, photography, performative, and narrative strategies will be encouraged. A key objective will be to understand the relationship between subjects' site-specific cultural practice, spatial relations, architecture, and wider transcultural/diasporic and global networks and influences. You will also be encouraged to engage with broader issues of truth, objectivity, knowledge, bias, etc which arise within a 'creative research relationship'.

Image by Matthew Parsons-Brown

Introduction to Design Computing

The Introduction to Design Computing module considers the application of digital media techniques to the exploration of form and space in interior design, and to the exploration of wider architectural themes and ideas. Concentrating primarily on the opportunities presented by the moving image and time-based media, the module provides instruction in the use of relevant computer software tools, such as digital video editing applications, and attempts to situate the use of these techniques in relation to the broader context of architectural/art-based representational practices and conventions. The module also aims to encourage critical awareness of the role played by media in architecture and interior design.

Picturing London

The aim of this module is to provide you with direct experience and appreciation of architecture in London and the tools for documenting, analysing and understanding London as a global city through its present and past. You will explore a varied range of textual and visual research methods to develop new ways of imagining the city environment.
London will be your research laboratory: the module will be conducted through urban walks with intensive documentation through sketching, photography, audio and video recordings. A series of group tutorials will allow you to develop and present your analysis through the findings of the site visits as well as other relevant sources eg publications, maps, paintings, films, online videos, exhibitions etc. The module looks at how architecture is situated within a wider environment and introduces you to different methodological approaches to the investigation of the buildings and open spaces of the city. This will involve the careful study of the history (and hidden histories) of places; a critical consideration of the role of imagery in mediating our perceptions of the city; and the development of an individual representation toolkit for ‘picturing cities’ that can then be used in your subsequent research and/or practice.

Photo credit: Krystallia Kamvasinou

Site and Motion

This module considers the application of two-dimensional animated graphics and the photographic image to architectural research and design. Beginning with an in-depth theoretical study employing photography as a critical tool, you will go on to explore the possibilities afforded by digital technology to extend and develop conventional forms of architectural expression, and to incorporate interactivity and time-based content. The intention is to provide further technical instruction in the use of scripted graphics and associated software applications, and to encourage a critical approach to the use of the photographic image/drawing and its relation to interactive/multimedia design.

Photograph: Amine Bouzid, Aurimas Jusevicius, Jun Kondo, Janggen Lee