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Michael Dring

MA Architecture (RIBA Part 2 Exemption) 

   Mike Dring PG team

MA Architecture
(RIBA PArt 2 Exemption) 

Find out more about the course

Could you tell us about what you do and how this feeds into your course?

I’m a full time academic staff member here at the School of Architecture and Design, having joined the university in 2007. Before joining I qualified as an architect, working in practice in the city on housing and education projects. This is something I am exploring with my students in the MArch unit ‘Housing and the Commons’, and we’ve been collaborating with partners over at the B37 Project in Chelmsley Wood and with Urban Splash at Port Loop.

I’m also studying for a PhD concerned with understanding the relationships between the institutions and infrastructures of the city. This relates to my role as co-founder of the Birmingham Modernist Society. We launched the Modernist Map of Birmingham at the end of 2018 which came out of a Co.Lab project I ran with students during the 2017-18 academic year.

In my ‘spare’ time I’m a studio holder at Grand Union, making audio-visual works and have performed and exhibited my work across the city and beyond.

What is the philosophy of your course? 

The study of architecture is a challenging and rewarding experience and is about more than achieving a qualification, though we appreciate that the MArch forms a critical part of the route to qualification. The principles of the MArch can be summarised through four key principles;

  1. We position ‘learning through making’ and ‘research by design’ methodologies at the heart of our students’ experience.
  2. We view the School, its courses, students and staff as active agents in our city and make mutually beneficial partnerships, promoting a variety of interactions within and beyond the discipline, exploring the boundaries of our profession and associated creative industries.
  3. We prioritise our students’ wellbeing and support them in exercising choices throughout the course and in taking personal responsibility in their learning here and beyond graduation.
  4. We are committed to offering a range of study models and routes recognising the diverse backgrounds and future ambitions of our student community.
If you had to name one thing about your course that makes it distinct, what would it be?

We are at the centre of a diverse creative faculty, in the sense of multi-disciplinary dialogue and resources as well as multi-cultural community of thinkers and makers. We explore a long history of applied arts in Birmingham, of a synergy between art and industry, culture and production, ‘learning though making’ forming a central practice of our course, drawing on this heritage and the creative context of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.

Why is Birmingham a good place to study/work?

Birmingham has Europe’s youngest population, and presents a great deal of opportunity to those that want it. Whilst there is a huge amount of national and global investment going into the city, not least through HS2, there is a growth in the entrepreneurial spirit in the city. We view the School of Architecture and Design, its staff and students as active agents in our city, exploring the boundaries of our profession and associated creative industries.

Why do you believe it’s important to study an MA and why might students want to study your course?

The Master of Architecture (MArch) is the academic gateway to the Part 3 qualification and to gaining title, and builds upon your previous undergraduate studies, professional work experience and wider personal development. However, we believe it is more than a title. Studying the MArch at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design provides a scaffold for your own future interests, specialisms and skills, making connections and networks, and in the process you’ll be challenged to make your best work. We’re also open and responsive to your individual needs and ambitions in defining your own trajectory, whether that is towards Part 3 studies, more specialist masters level studies and the possibility of PhD as an extension of the ‘research by design’ principle.

Where will the students be based in their time here and what will their learning environment be?

Students will be based at the Parkside Building for studio and workshops, and in Curzon Building for lectures, seminars and to access library and other learning facilities. We also run two study visits during the academic year, the first to a European destination related to the design unit, the second to New York sponsored by Ibstock Brick.

What can students do to help prepare them for the course?

We are looking for students who are critical, creative and curious, collaborative and reflective, aware of current affairs, professional, ambitious and willing to take the initiative. The application process is your opportunity to review your journey so far, and to think about where you would like to be in the future. We ask you to do a critical self-appraisal of your journey to date, including previous studies, professional experience and extra-curricular interests, identifying any particular strengths or areas for development during your time on the course.

What’s the favourite element about working at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design?

Our students know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and with that comes confidence, direction and wellbeing. We’re not interested in esoteric, purely theoretical positions, but in ways in which ideas might be applied. The opportunity to share our thinking and making outside of the University is part of this and a hugely rewarding experience for all involved. The collegiate nature of the School also means that it is a very welcoming environment for all to work in.