Interior Architecture and Design - MA
Through encouraging and promoting experiential learning, the MA Interior Architecture and Design course embraces the truth that designing is a creative adventure....
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
Through encouraging and promoting experiential learning, the MA Interior Architecture and Design course embraces the truth that designing is a creative adventure.
This twelve-month programme will enable you to form an understanding and appreciation of theoretical, practical and professional issues that are informing the evolution of contemporary interior architecture and design professional practice.
What's covered in this course?
On the MA Interior Architecture and Design programme you will explore the distinctive qualities associated with the interiors of inhabited architecture.
By looking at the cultural, practical and atmospheric aspects of interiors created by architects, artists and designers, as an innovator you will be able to strategically develop creative interfaces and determine how users will perceive and behave in the spaces that your are conceiving.
Making speculative work is an important aspect of the programme. As individuals you will establish your professional identity as autonomous creative practitioners by blending philosophy, artistry and practicality in order to compose an interior design scenario that is future-focused and personally and culturally meaningful. By exploring innovative practices embedded within your own design process, this reflective practice will act as a stimuli for you to challenge existing assumptions about interior design and push the international platform for the profession forwards into new and versatile directions.
A key aspect of the course is that it will encourage a spirit of 'internationalisation', which will contribute to the establishment of a culturally rich, vibrant and diverse learning studio environment. Fostering the ambition of ‘life long learning’, you will create a dynamic continual development plan. This will allow you to draw on the expertise and global networks associated with the institution, reflecting the full spectrum of opportunities that can help you to enrich and nurture your career. Previous postgraduate students on the programme have been employed at leading international architectural practices as architects, interior designers, or as design lecturers in further and higher education institutions, with the pathway to postgraduate Doctoral PhD study also opened up as a result.
Why Choose Us?
- The programme is dedicated to providing you with a dynamic range of quality postgraduate experiences and opportunities.
- Situated in the renowned Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, the MA Interior Architecture and Design postgraduate course offers a practice-led, transformational learning journey.
- Choice enables you to independently self-select modes of study within each of the modules that make up the programme.
- Interior architecture and design learning plans can be tailored to meet your academic and creative aspirations.
- The trans-disciplinary approach of the course allows you to pursue different orientations as designer, from the re-ordering and refurbishment of existing architecture to generating spatial interventions through creativity.
|Applications are welcomed from designers that have already achieved a high quality degree in Interior Design or a closely related three dimensional design discipline, or equivalent qualifications.|
Applications from European or International mature students (+21) with alternative qualifications and/or substantial work experience will be considered individually on their merits/portfolio.
As a minimum, applicants should have a portfolio demonstrating their critical thinking, technical abilities and creative process in a range of media.
Extra information for EU/International students
Advanced English Skills are essential as this is a taught MA and all project work requires accurate and appropriate communication in English language.
Non-English speakers should have IELTS 6.0 in the following categories - reading, speaking, listening and writing.
However, applicants may apply with lower IELTS if they successfully participate in our pre-sessional English Language courses that are delivered just before the main programme begins.
We ask that you bring your passion and enthusiasm for interior architecture along with an open disposition and an evident commitment to your own development.
These characteristics will help you to develop your capacity to create, inspire clients and your peers. As a practice-led programme, it is a requirement that you will already have a degree level qualification and or a body of professional experience in the architecture, interior, spatial or exhibition design domains.
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £7,700 per year
- Full Time
- 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
- £8,500 per year
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £13,200 per year
- Full Time
- 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
- £14,520 per year
Access to computer equipment
You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.
You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.
All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.
Access to Microsoft Office 365
Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library, including: Frame, Elle Decoration, Cereal, Wallpaper and Icon Eye magazines..
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
Free access to LinkedIn Learning, which offers over 5,000 in-depth and bite-sized courses.
Free Adobe Creative Cloud licence
Students studying on this course can request a free licence to install the entire suite of applications on up to two personal devices.
Project materials (mandatory)
This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio and in some instances architectural models. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected. We suggest you budget about £300 for 3D modelling, laser cutting and portfolio folders for each project. An average budget of about £200 should cover the purchase of your own tools: good quality pencils, scale ruler, a cutting mat, crayons, colour wheel and masking tape.
Specialist equipment (mandatory)
This course requires the purchase of specialist equipment.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy, in which case we suggest budgeting approximately £300 for this.
Placement expenses (optional)
If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.
Field trips (optional)
This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.
You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.
You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.
Essential software will be provided but additional software may incur license costs. As a BCU student, you are entitled to educational discounts on these additional software where available.
Personal equipment - laptop (optional)
Whilst not essential is it reccommended you purchase a mid-high spec Windows based laptop due to the hardward requirements of the specialist software we use. If you wish to use an Apple product, please ensure that it meets the minimum specifications and the minimum storage capacity of 256GB so that Windows can be installed. Typical costs range from £650 to £2000.
Personal equipment - digital camera (optional)
You may want to purchase your own digital camera to use during the course, which is likely to be in the region of £300. We also recommend insuring your camera which can cost £40 to £80 per year.
Personal equipment - computer peripherals (optional)
We recommend you purchase a 1TB remote hard drive (approximately £50) and wireless mouse.
Accommodation and living costs
The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.
*Professional Placement option
The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.
This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.
You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.
Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.
Your portfolio will form the basis of your application’s evaluation and should include the following:
- Final project from your undergraduate course. This work must include your design development and critical analysis – to demonstrate how you have evolved your initial ideas into interior design concepts and technical details.
- Other projects from final year or second year undergraduate programme.
- An outline of your written dissertation or final year essay.
- Selected excerpts from sketchbooks and workbooks.
- A range of work form any of your work placements/practical training or architectural employment (this may include technical work as well as design and presentation work).
You will also be asked to prepare a Personal Statement. This is a self-appraisal, which should be 1-2 sides of A4 and include the following:
- A summary of your education since leaving school.
- An analysis of your portfolio and working methods whilst on your undergraduate course.
- Your relevant work experience to date.
- Strengths and weaknesses both as a student and in the workplace.
- Any interior or architectural issues you are particularly interested in.
- Your reasons for applying to this particular course.
Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Your passion and motivations
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Why this course?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Relevant academic or work experience
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
Course in Depth
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 140 credits):
This module will provide you with both academic and creative opportunities to engage with different perspectives on; commercial markets, design processes and design practice. These inter-related elements are often cited as essential factors in the evolution of the dynamic ‘Design Systems’ that are associated with design projects. By focusing on contextually specific architecture sectors, you will use a combination of theoretical and practical analysis, to define, examine and hone your own appreciation of the Design System within which you are working. In doing this, you will define alternative theorems and strategies relating to the construction and deconstruction of design ideas, mechanisms, and processes as part of your own interior architecture and design practice.
This module will engage you in Experiential Learning. Taking as a starting point that “There are two goals in the experiential learning process. One is to learn the specifics of a particular subject, and the other is to learn about one’s own learning process.” (Kolb & Kolb, 2008: 58). The Experiential Learning Model (ELM) developed by Roger Fry and David Kolb, presents a systems view in which learning is composed of four ‘concrete’ elements, namely:
- Concrete experience
- Observation and reflection on the concrete experience
- Formation of abstract concepts based on the reflection
- Testing new concepts
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practical outcome with accompanying reflective, critical and contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be relevant to your programme and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete the following SHARED SUBJECT module.
Taking an internationalised stance, this module is concerned with the meaningful context of design practice and considers the cultural, aesthetic, political, economic and social factors that influence designers. By focusing on how these macro conditions effect an individual designer’s decision-making processes and Praxis, the development of specific design ‘cultures’ can be evaluated at an individual, corporate, national and global level. By focusing on a design precedent, you will consider how the designer’s outputs are utilized, valued and absorbed by the design industry at large – including curators, journalists, bloggers, businesses, brands, retailers and the general public. By applying practice-led research, you will form a better understanding about the international and local influences that impact on your own respective design specialism and the resultant design cultures that are emerging within this industry sector.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least the following OPTIONAL module.
The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities, with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework, several kinds of collaborative opportunities are available. Your supervisor may set you a predetermined live project, to enable you to work with other students in a way that is appropriate to your subject area; or there may be opportunities for you to collaborate with staff on research projects. In all cases, you must apply your subject skills to a project which will be agreed in advance with your supervisor.
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.
The course is structured into three ‘Trimester’ periods that are designed to both build your confidence and improve your level of ability across a range of design and academic contexts.
Each Trimester has been carefully designed to enable you to explore your potential and chart your unique learning curve. During each period, the staff team and your peers will help you to reflect on your practice and recognise when you have developed professionally as you make the transition towards your enhanced career prospects.
Phase 1: Building a foundation of knowledge and skills
This is the most instructional phase of the programme, with a rich timetable of theoretical, practical and interactive sessions. Transitional activities are embedded into the design of each module. This phase ensures core sector knowledge and the development of the required skills needed for you to become independent learners and be successful at later stages of the course.
Phase 2: Experience through practical application
During this phase you will have the opportunity to work on self determined briefs and/or ‘live’ projects on an individual or interdisciplinary group basis. The focus is on learning by doing (experiential learning), putting into practice the knowledge and skills developed during phase one. You will be given greater independence to communicate, argue, problem-solve and rationalise. Tutors will provide milestone reviews and facilitated peer-to-peer discussion to support your professional practice.
Phase 3: Personalised learning and independent study
During this phase you will be given greater autonomy to direct your learning journey by engaging in external partnerships that align with your particular interest and through establishing your own goals. There is no taught content and support is available via scheduled tutorials.
During your studies, you might want to investigate the broad platform of Masters programmes and research degrees that are available at the University. This may include a Doctorate of Philosophy.
Within Birmingham School of Architecture and Design there is an evolving research collective that now includes a cluster of scholars that are actively pursuing Interior Design PhD research interests.
As an international hub, we interrogate the most vibrant, diverse and ambitious research and professional practice activities in the subject area. This research focuses on the advancement of scholarship, creative innovations and applied professional practice across a breadth of architecture and interior design related creative practice.
Our extensive connections include professional organisations, designer makers and curators, academics and research fellows, as well as exchange and overseas students. As an early stage emerging researcher and member of this team you would become increasingly engaged with activities such as delivering at leading academic and industry-specific conferences, events, seminars, symposia, exhibitions and access innovation events.
Enhancing your employability skills
The MA Interior Architecture and Design programme aims to foster postgraduates with a set of attributes, which prepare them for their future careers and see that they are:
- Professional and work-ready
- A creative problem solver
- Have a global outlook
Links to industry
As a postgraduate student at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design you will be encouraged to prepare for employment by engaging with a range of supportive activities and events including:
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions that focus on employability skills and action planning
- Focused architecture sector lectures
- Alumni /employment and interview surgeries hosted by 'Superstudio'
- Interaction with the careers service advisors and careers events hosted at the University
- Friends of Birmingham School of Architecture and Design – An extensive network and broad spectrum of connections and industry partners that create opportunities for our students. These are introduced via your staff team, signposted on Moodle or published on noticeboards around the School and on social media platforms
- Design competitions
- Design bursaries and scholarships
- Creative exhibitions
- Collaborative Practice - Live and collaborative projects
- Volunteer organisations connected to the School
- Architecture and design conservation projects
- Industry events and awards ceremonies
- Work experience, internships and employment opportunities
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Ana De Areia Soares
Creative Design Lecturer at Coventry University
“I started the MA in Interior Architecture and Design at BCU at a time of great change and uncertainty and I can certainly say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life – both personally and professionally.
The quality of the teaching is outstanding and extremely inspiring. The course is very well structured and it teaches students to approach design in a very reflective and positive manner.
This course has given me the chance to work as a mentor for the BA students, which has shone a light on my career path. With Delia Skinners’s professional mentoring, I have honed my teaching skills, completing SEDA training and a HEA teaching qualification, while working as a Studio Assistant for the MA team, which has enabled me to excel at my job today, as a lecturer at Coventry University”.
LIAO Huan (Circle)
Interior Designer at Yitian Design in Wuhan, China
“This course is very useful for me. It has improved my design thinking, equipped me with the ability to design and think independently, and improved my design presentation techniques. In particular, the course of Design System enabled me to learn a complete design method and opened up my design ideas.”
HU Yuki (Yuki) and ZHOU Ying (Zoe)
Founders of Zinn Design
“The course has given us a good theoretical and practical knowledge of interior Architecture and creativity, which has changed the way we design. It prepared us for the challenge to set up our own design practice and collaborative working.”
KUNG Tze-Wie (Will)
Interior Designer at Pico, Global Brand Experience Agency
“Studying for my MA in Interior Architecture Design at BCU was a memorable experience, and elevated my design capabilities to a higher level. The creative teaching methods that my professional tutor Delia Skinner used during the one-year course were highly inspirational. She was not just a tutor, but an influential figure from whom every student can benefit and learn. The daily personal tutorial with her and other tutors were most interesting and stimulating. They broadened my thoughts and enhanced my communication skills. These are skills from which I can now benefit in my current career as an exhibition and event designer in China.”
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Our international students
The course will encourage a spirit of 'internationalisation', which is a key aspect that contributes to the establishment of a culturally rich, vibrant and diverse learning studio environment.
Fostering the ambition of ‘life long learning’, you will create a dynamic continual development plan. This will allow you to draw on the expertise and global networks associated with the institution, reflecting the full spectrum of opportunities that can help you to enrich and nurture your career. This may include international employment as architects, interior designers, or as design lecturers in further and higher education institutions, or you may progress onto postgraduate Doctoral PhD study.
Over the last six years, the MA Interior Design programme has established a credible reputation. The course has increasingly attracted a globally diverse group of students from across the world. In recent years students have joined us from Bahrain, China, Columbia, Dubai, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Romania, Spain, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand and the UK.
Facilities and Staff
When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.
You’ll be based in the multi-million pound Parkside building – part of our City Centre Campus – with technology and facilities that reflect advanced professional practice. We offer facilities which will accurately reflect the work environment you will enter after graduating. These include Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and a computer-generated Virtual Building Site, creating real life scenarios for you to work on.
While based in The Parkside Building, you will get sharpen your CAD and digital visual communication skills, prototyping and digital production, while also having access to a range of specialist software, workshops, computer and project learning laboratories, and a social learning space.
You’ll also benefit from:
- Design studios
- Computer and project laboratories
- Social learning space
- Meeting point
From industry-standard software, to our workshops and studio spaces, everything you need will be at your fingertips from day one. Working with our expert technicians, you'll be supported from concept through to completion.
Delia joined Birmingham City University in 2004 as a Senior Teaching Fellow/Senior Lecturer. She has been the Programme Director for the MA Interior Design programme since 2010. Delia loved working with the students on this programme, and has embraced this aspect of her work with international student community with joy and respect.More about Delia