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Architecture - MArch

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: September 2021
  • Study mode: Full Time, Part Time
  • Location: City Centre

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.

What's covered in the 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 be able to spend time with architectural practices for supporting tutorials and gain opportunities from the School’s links with more than 100 firms.
  • The MArch meets and exceeds the requirements set out in the latest ARB/RIBA Part 2 criteria and EU Directive on Architectural education.
  • Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is highly respected and has a rich history of providing education and opportunities. It celebrated its centenary in 2009.
  • Many students have degrees from other UK schools of architecture, resulting in a dynamic body of high-calibre students.
  • Visiting tutors come from national and local practice 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 part-time architecture courses.

This course is open to International students

Architecture and Design Right Column

Discover Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Concerns Cover

Read our Annual Review

Concerns is an annual publication by Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. In this issue, you can view final year student work and read more about the activities within the School.

Read the Annual Review 

New £10,906 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,906 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Course Accreditations

This course is accredited by:

Architects Registration Board

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

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
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

Where applicants do not hold RIBA Part 1 and complete and pass the ARB prescribed Part 2 qualification, they will still need to hold an ARB prescribed qualification at Part 1 level (plus an ARB prescribed qualification at Part 3 level together with the required period of practical training) before they can be admitted to the ARB Register.

  • UK students
  • 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. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

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.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

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.

The details of two referees must be submitted in the Referees section of your application form. At least one referee should be from the institution where you obtained your academic qualifications and know you in an academic or professional capacity.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1

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

Advanced Praxis
40 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.

Research Principles
20 credits

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
40 credits

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)

Co.Lab II
20 credits

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):

Architectural Thesis
60 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 Practice
20 credits

‘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.

Special Study
40 credits

‘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.

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.

Further study

You may wish to further your research by applying for a PhD with the School of Architecture and Design or expand your knowledge with our other postgraduate degrees available, such as Conservation of the Historic Environment, MA Interior Architecture and Design or MA Design Management.

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Barnes Design
  • Benevides
  • Associates Architects

And in jobs such as:

  • Designer
  • Graduate Architect

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.


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 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.

Graduate jobs

Our graduates have secured roles as graduate architects and designers with prestigious companies such as Bryant Priest Newman, Broadway Malyan and Associated Architects. Some have even gone on to set up their own practices after gaining experience.

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:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

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. 

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.

Read Michael's full profile

Christian Frost

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.

Read Christian's full profile

Jieling Xiao Profile

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.

Read Jieling's full profile

Jemma Browne profile

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.

Read Jemma's full profile

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. 

Read Hannah's full profile