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Architecture - MArch

The MArch (RIBA Part 2) is the second stage of your professional training to become an architect. You'll be inspired by innovative architecture teaching from academic and industry professionals and develop your critical ability, skills and creativity. Benefiting from our links with more than 100 architecture practices, our graduates design and create the buildings of the future....

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.  Information about the arrangements the University has put in place for the 2021/22 academic year in response to Covid-19 and the emerging variants can be found here.


Should the impact of Covid-19 continue in subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response 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.

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Course overview

The MArch (RIBA Part 2) is the second stage of your professional training to become an architect. You'll be inspired by innovative architecture teaching from academic and industry professionals and develop your critical ability, skills and creativity.

Benefiting from our links with more than 100 architecture practices, our graduates design and create the buildings of the future. They have secured successful architecture jobs with well known practices such as Associated Architects, Hawkins\Brown, Hopkins Architects and Glenn Howells Architects.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

Recognised by the Architects Registration Board and RIBA for exemption from Part II examination, the course is stage two of your professional development programme to become an architect.

The programme goes beyond the professional body criteria, giving you a stimulating and dynamic educational experience of architecture at postgraduate level. You’ll study in a design studio-led research environment and you will be able to create architectural designs that meet necessary technical requirements while still having aesthetic appeal.

There are fantastic international opportunities – our students have undertaken fieldwork in Reykjavik, Istanbul, Amsterdam and Barcelona. There’s also an annual New York study visit sponsored by Ibstock Brick.
You’ll have opportunities to take part in research projects and our connections will help your work get noticed. MArch graduate Thomas Cotton had his final thesis project published on New York’s Museum of Modern Art website for the exhibition Uneven Growth.

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design has strong alumni and connections to the city’s creative and professional networks both through visiting tutors and critics.

Our Co.LAB is a collaborative architecture and design initiative based within the School that gives you the chance to work on live projects with our partner organisations including schools and charities. Our students recently worked on a project with 1930s listed structures at Dudley Zoological Gardens in collaboration with other students from the School of Art.

You'll be based in our multi-million pound City Centre Campus Parkside Building with access to traditional workshops in wood, metal, ceramics and plastics, along with advanced digital studios for rapid prototyping and digital production, CAD and digital visual communication skills.

Why Choose Us?

  • You’ll benefit from our network of architectural practices and creative organisations and gain opportunities from the School’s links with more than 100 companies.
  • Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is highly respected and has a rich history of providing a challenging and stimulating education. It celebrated its centenary in 2009.
  • The School has a long history of delivering live projects where you can work with industry partners and real communities to develop experience in complex urban challenges.
  • The course welcomes students from other UK schools of architecture alongside our own graduates, resulting in a dynamic body of high-calibre students with varied experiences.
  • We mentor candidates for various national student awards or extra-curricular projects including the Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprise, RIBA President’s Medal and Architect Journal’s Student Prize.
  • You’ll participate in innovative modules where you can select your project to prioritise collaborative design approaches and research themes.
  • Visiting tutors come from highly regarded national or local practices and we have visiting critics and lectures from high profile practitioners, such as eminent architects, visiting professors and world-renowned consultants.
  • We are one of the primary providers of a part-time architecture course with over 30 years’ experience in this unique route of study.

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements
Essential

Applicants will normally be expected to have:

  • and upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in architecture
  • at least 9 months of post-undergraduate professional practice experience
  • a diverse portfolio demonstrating academic and professional experience (see ‘How to Apply’ for detailed guidance)
  • prepared a critical self-appraisal (see ‘How to Apply’ for detailed guidance)

Architecture with RIBA Part 1 exemption.
In exceptional circumstances, applications from students without RIBA Part 1 will be considered subject to prior equivalent academic and practical experience, but the honours degree must be in architecture due to the prescribed and validated nature of the programme.

Evidence of satisfactory completion of at least nine months of practical training is normally required for acceptance on the full-time course.

Should applicants have difficulty in accessing conventional practical experience, the admissions team will consider evidence of initiative in finding alternative experience, through voluntary work, competitions, work in associated fields of the construction and design industries and self-generated work.

In the part-time mode, your practical training experience may be counted during the first year of attendance if you have studied your BA part-time. If you are part-time you should be employed by an architectural practice.

A diverse portfolio demonstrating academic and professional experience along with a critical self appraisal.

Extra information for EU/International students
Essential
All students whose first language is not English will require IELTS 6.5 overall (or equivalent). Candidates should have achieved a score of at least 6.0 in each category.
International Students

Entry requirements here

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MArch

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • £9,250 per year
  • Part Time
  • 3 years
  • £6,200 per year

Award: MArch

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • £14,500 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

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.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

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.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

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 or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected but is likely be in around £250.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities, including safety boots/shoes. You are also expected to have appropriate clothing and footware for site visits and field trips.

Media consumable items (mandatory)

This course requires the use of consumables. We suggest budgeting around £400 for printing costs.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

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.

Portfolio Guidance

Your portfolio will form the basis of the interview discussion and should include the following:

  • Final project from your BA course.
  • Other projects from final year or second year.
  • A copy of your written dissertation or final year essay.
  • Selected excerpts from sketchbooks and workbooks.
  • A range of work from your practical training year or architectural employment (this includes technical work as well as design and presentation work).
  • Evidence of your RIBA Part 1 exemption (e.g BA certificate).

We are looking for motivated and ambitious students with a broad range of experience -  this needs to come across in your application and portfolio.

We generally expect applicants to have undertaken at least nine months of practical experience, though we welcome enquiries from those with alternative experience.

Personal statement/Critical Self Appraisal

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

You should prepare a written document of 2-4 pages that Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shines a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study. You will also find the personal statement useful as preparation for an interview should you be requested to attend. This document should not just focus on your strengths, but be a reflective piece that shows us you are able to critically appraise your own work and your performance.

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 and how would you critically reflect on your undergraduate study?  Outline and your architectural career so far and where you feel your strengths and weaknesses lie? You should also discuss the areas of architecture that you are interested in and a critical analysis of your portfolio.  You may also find it useful to reflect on your skills development through your undergraduate and subsequent practice experience.

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? The course structure, previous studios, student work, exhibitions or publications 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.  We are particularly interested in how you reflect on your organisation and time management, how you are able to priorities your time and tasks both as a student and during your work in practice.  We would also like to know about your experience in collaborating with others and working as part of a team. 

Relevant academic or work experience

Provide a summary of your education to date and your work experience.  This should focus on your post undergraduate practical experience outlining the roles, responsibilities and projects you have been involved with along with how you contributed to your working environment.  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.

Should you be invited to attend an interview you will be expected to demonstrate a diverse design and technical portfolio with undergraduate, professional and other supporting work. You will also be expected to bring your personal statement/critical self appraisal and use these documents to answer a series of reflective questions about your motivation for study, your skills development, collaborative experience and your self organisational ability, all of which are essential requisites of an MArch Architecture student.

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Course in Depth

Stage 1

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

The purpose of this 40 credit module is to develop advanced skills of design and collaboration not as isolated processes but within the context of the constraints of professional practice through an integrated, immersive and experiential learning environment.  The module is delivered through a combination of group and individual submissions and contributes to 2 key areas of learning.  The first being critical analysis of the architect’s responsibility to society and the profession, the legal and legislative context for practice and the business and management processes involved in running and developing a successful business and managing successful projects.  The second being the collaborative development of a detailed architectural design proposal, with strategic levels of synthesised technical resolution.

The outcomes of the module will be supported by the professional practice and management workshop programme alongside studio design. The module will be delivered with a mixture of studio based group tutorial and specialist seminar sessions.

The Research Principles module is an introduction to Masters level history and theory of architecture and begins to develop themes related to research, enterprise and practice. It is designed to set multiple agendas in advance of the commencement of the Special Study in the following two semesters.

Each week students will be required to read and appraise allocated texts in order to demonstrate understanding of the essays, and engage in dialogue within groups to develop skills in reading, interpretation and critical understanding as well as theoretical, conceptual and practical principles. Apart from the introductory session and the final session—which introduces the assignment—there are several sessions which will comprise a lecture on key moments in the development of the European city, a presentation on a research topic by a research active member of staff, and a seminar. Apart from the allocated texts students will be encouraged to read around the subjects discussed throughout the module.

Material practices promotes a philosophy of engagement in research questions and topics associated with the design unit, through learning through making and providing a bridge between investigation and proposition.

In this way you will develop a ‘strategic ability’ to actively make and critique work through direct engagement with materials, processes and through collective action (Chandler, p.116)

The Birmingham School of Architecture and Design occupies a distinctive interdisciplinary territory between the study and practices of the creative arts with the built environment professions.

Links with the professional context and are reinforced through alumni, renowned tutors, events and live research projects. Equally, the School’s position within ADM means that students and staff are well connected to the creative scene of the city.

Stage 2

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

The Architectural Thesis marks the culmination of your critical and creative studies in architectural design. It also provides a platform for further enterprise and research oriented work in architecture and associated disciplines. The module is structured around a ‘research by design’ pedagogy which foregrounds the idea that the design work undertaken in the course of the module has value and potential impact beyond the course, with relevance to contemporary issues, with opportunities for transdisciplinarity in the production of traditional and non-traditional forms of knowledge.

The module builds on unit work undertaken in the previous ‘Material Practices’ module, and is a yearlong study of the theoretical, methodological and contextual position of your studio unit and your own enquiry, through group and individual work, concluding in an individual project, but with options for collectively made work (see note on assessment matrix and variables).

‘Negotiated Practices’ provides the space and time to value the specific qualities and characteristics of the Architectural Thesis through the creation of a ‘negotiated artefact’. In this way it provides the deep investigation required for a genuinely relevant architectural response (Chandler, p.118).

The ‘negotiated artefact’ acts as an extension of the Thesis (it does not duplicate work contained within the Architectural Thesis module), contributing to its trajectory and extending its potential. During and at the conclusion of the module (and the course) you will communicate your work to a wider audience including the final MArch exhibition as well as opportunities for public dissemination beyond the academy, and you will be expected to consider this as part of the practice.

‘Negotiated Practices’ provides the space and time to value the specific qualities and characteristics of the Architectural Thesis through the creation of a ‘negotiated artefact’. In this way it provides the deep investigation required for a genuinely relevant architectural response (Chandler, p.118).

The ‘negotiated artefact’ acts as an extension of the Thesis (it does not duplicate work contained within the Architectural Thesis module), contributing to its trajectory and extending its potential. During and at the conclusion of the module (and the course) you will communicate your work to a wider audience including the final MArch exhibition as well as opportunities for public dissemination beyond the academy, and you will be expected to consider this as part of the practice.

You'll be assessed through a mix of reviews, reports, exams and essays. You'll undertake a major dissertation or special study (to follow on from the Co.Lab live project or another opportunity) on a theme related to the course. The dissertation and special study themes are negotiated with your tutor.

Studies are interconnected across areas of design, technical and professional and research and theory.

Cross level studio units allow you to select from multiple theoretical options that build on the School's diverse research hubs. We have a number of highly experienced visiting tutors and critics from a wide range of local , national and international architectural practices that work with our students on a regular basis  There's also specialist in house tuition in technology support within each of our studios.

Trip and visits

Each studio has a UK and European study site.  Final year students visit the European site to either explore is as a condition and to bring back ideas from the visit, or they take it as a context for their thesis projects.  Sites have included Reykjavik, Florence, Paris, Rotterdam, Milan, Istanbul, Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin, Gibraltar, Venice and Madrid.

The popular Birmingham School of Architecture and Design New York Trip has been running for over 33 years. Sponsored by Ibstock Brick, the trip visits a number of significant sites across Manhattan, with highlights including:

  • A guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial Museum by Mark Wagner of Brody Davis Bond, architect of the below ground museum and curator of the found objects in the museum.
  • A tour of Cooper Union by Professor David Turnbull.
  • Guided tours of the Donald Judd House, Lincoln Centre, United Nations and the hidden basement levels of Grand Central Terminal.
  • Guided tour of Columbia Medical Education Centre by architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and Project Architects Gensler.
  •  Practice visits to some of the world’s leading architectural practices
  •  Numerous other visits including Guggenheim, MOMA, the New Museum, Seagram Building, Whitney Museum, Highline and the Rockerfeller Centre.

This course is accredited by the following organisations:

Our accreditations allow you to achieve RIBA Part 2 exemption. This offers you distinct support when applying for placement in practice. 

Our accreditation shows employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and ability they need.

Architects Registration Board
Architects Registration Board

Architects Registration board was established by Parliament in 1997 to regulate the architects’ profession in the UK.

They are an independent, public interest body and their work in regulating architects ensures that good standards within the profession are consistently maintained for the benefit of the public and architects alike.

RIBA
Royal Institute of British Architects

RIBA is a global member organisation, with 44,000 members. It champions better buildings, communities and the environment and provides the standards, training, support and recognition to put members at the peak of their profession.

Our accreditation shows employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and skills they need.

Employability

Enhancing your employability skills

You'll be able to produce complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural issues. You'll also have sound knowledge of procurement, building production and legislation.

The course gives you a thorough understanding of the links between design and technology and how architects work with other construction professionals.

You'll develop your specialist architectural skills and in-depth knowledge and be well on your way to becoming a qualified architect. This course is the final stage in design and research education.

Working on live projects and with architectural firms will have enabled you to increase your understanding, add to a portfolio of relevant work and make useful connections. Our students are gaining recognition for the innovative, original and compelling work that they produce.

You'll develop a range of transferable skills, such as how to communicate ideas and solve problems, as well as developing negotiation and planning skills. You’ll learn how to work effectively and efficiently either on your own or as part of a team.

Your skills will be in demand - architecture, building and planning courses are one of the top 12 degree subjects for getting a job according to a recent article in the Telegraph. Your work will give you experience in a multi-disciplinary creative environment, making you attractive to a wide range of employers.

Placements

Although we don't offer a formal placement year as part of this course, our students are offered a range of opportunities thanks to the industry links we help develop on their behalf.

More about our placement opportunities

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

Our OpportUNIty students

Many of our students are employed in Birmingham City University’s OpportUNIty programme mentoring undergraduate students, assisting in our digital workshop, collaborating with staff in research projects and creating architectural events and publications. This contributes to a confident, highly motivated student community.

International Students

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:

Facilities and Staff

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is based at the state-of-the-art £62 million Parkside Building, a new development on our City Centre Campus within Eastside.

The new building has added an extra dimension to the School. Our campus has extensive studio and workshop provision and cutting-edge equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer, our brand new state of the art workshops and studios include 3D printing, casting and plaster workshops, wood/metal/plastics workshops, ceramics, glass, digital workshops, waterjet and laser cutting, large format printing, screen printing and lithographics, photography and film studios. The building has been designed to actively promote shared space opportunities, for students to engage with others across the University as part of the learning experience.

Photo Gallery

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. 

Our staff

Michael Dring

Programme Director, MArch Architecture

Michael is an architect, senior lecturer, MArch programme director and researcher at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. He brings seven years of professional practice to the role, and is involved in a number of research projects and groups spanning architecture, urbanism, art and design, and ecology.

More about Michael

Professor Christian Frost

Oscar Naddermier Professor of Architecture / Director of History, Theory and Cultural Context / Director of Research

Professor Frost qualified as an architect in 1990 following the completion of his studies at the University of Cambridge. He worked in practice, at home and abroad for over ten years before becoming a full time academic in 2001 when he began to research the history of the foundation of Salisbury, which has resulted in the publication of his book Time, Space and Order: The Making of Medieval Salisbury (Peter Lang, 2009). In 2013 he became the Oscar Naddermier Professor of Architecture at the Birmingham School of Architecture, taking responsibility for the delivery of history, theory and cultural context throughout the school whilst continuing to teach design on the MArch course.

More about Christian

Dr. Jieling Xiao

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design

Jieling is a qualified Architect and Designer and makes contributions on most of the programmes associated with the the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. Jieling believes passionately that designers need to consider more than just how the hardware of architecture functions for its users. Jieling is particularly interested in theories and the creative practice of place-making and environmental design that interprets and plays with people’s sensory experiences, particularly in relation to soundscape and smellscape.

More about Jieling

Dr Jemma Browne

School Coordinator, Cultural Context, History & Theory

Jemma teaches history and theory of Architecture and Design and coordinates the overall delivery and development of this strand of all the courses in the School, as well as contributing to the development of the School research environment and supervising PhD students.

More about Jemma

Hannah Vowles

Deputy Head of School and Associate Professor

Studied architecture at Kingston and the Architectural Association. Worked in architectural practice for 10 years, public and private sector. Founded art practice / project Art in Ruins with Glyn Banks – exhibitions, published critical writing, curating, teaching. Founding Chair of association of architectural educators. 

More about Hannah