Landscape Architecture with Conversion - MA
This MA in Landscape Architecture with a conversion year enables applicants who do not have a degree in Landscape Architecture an opportunity to take the first steps in becoming a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute. Note: If you do hold a degree in Landscape Architecture then please view our one-year MA in Landscape Architecture option. This two-year conversion Masters has two stages....
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.
This MA in Landscape Architecture with a conversion year enables applicants who do not have a degree in Landscape Architecture an opportunity to take the first steps in becoming a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute.
Note: If you do hold a degree in Landscape Architecture then please view our one-year MA in Landscape Architecture option.
This two-year conversion Masters has two stages. Stage one, year 1, covers the foundation modules, introducing you to design skills and techniques used to respond to the project briefs.
In stage two, year 2, you will be joining students who have an accredited degree in Landscape Architecture. The MA in Landscape Architecture promotes solutions to environmental and community problems in a creative studio environment. The project profiles provide an opportunity to work closely with Landscape Institute policy and demonstrate the authority of Landscape Architecture as a design tool that reshapes our designed ecologies and designed geographies across the full range of scales.
What's covered in this course?
Year 1 is structured to develop key design and communication skills that support all aspects of projects in a studio-based learning environment which is underpinned by landscape history and theory lectures. Students will learn that landscape is a sequence of interrelated designed environments connected by land, ecology, water, climate and infrastructure, sitting in a cultural context that extends from parish to global, political and economic systems. The design skills will develop from process-led narratives using industry standard visual communication and analysis techniques, which include digital mapping and three-dimensional modelling, model making, virtual reality, visualisation, rendering, drawing, and design across the range of scales.
Year 2 builds on the foundation of knowledge and skills acquired in year 1 and will help you develop further the creative, artistic, technical and intellectual abilities through a diverse range of design projects that explore contemporary issues and problems, which grow in scale and complexity. The format of studio learning is continued with an increased emphasis on research and experimentation. These include research-led design projects relating to public health and well-being, habitat creation and biodiversity, climate change, settlement design, food security, and large infrastructure schemes like the High Speed 2 (HS2) and the West Midlands National Park.
Our modules, including our new Design for Climate Change module, provide a fascinating forum for systems scale interventions, innovation and exploration of new sustainable approaches to respond to climate change emergency, biodiversity loss and for the planning and designing of resilient places and communities. Exploring these themes and issues is central to our common future and our Landscape Architecture course is very well placed to progress employability skills that will position you at the forefront of these subjects.
Our links to industry, local authorities and our Co.Lab partners offer an opportunity for being involved in the complex nature and the challenges of being a landscape architect in the real world. These extend to collaborating with local stakeholders and institutions and working alongside colleagues across the University on projects that demonstrate the authority of Landscape Architecture in improving the quality of future urban and rural living.
I stumbled across the Landscape Institute website, having never heard of the profession, but it brought everything I enjoyed together: the outdoors, design, ecology, place making. To my delight I got into Birmingham City University, and I have gained so many new experiences that have really allowed me to appreciate the places around me. The University provides the support you need, whilst giving you a freedom that allows your projects to be as creative and individual as you want. The course provided a great stepping stone between education and employment, and the experience allowed me to gain employment at a Landscape Architect practice straight after my degree.
Why Choose Us?
- Landscape Architecture shares a fantastic design culture inspired by leading practitioners and internationally renowned academics, and together with the students create a rich and unique learning experience.
- Birmingham School of Architecture is distinctive in the way that it embraces transdisciplinary experiences through the Design Experimental Sustainability Studio where environmental issues, sustainability and climate change are debated. Students from across the school can share ideas and practice through our learning laboratory SuperStudio.
- The course is accredited by the Landscape Institute, providing you with a secure pathway to become a Chartered member of the Landscape Institute. The Landscape Institute Professional Review Group assesses the quality of the course on an annual basis to ensure it is designed to meet the current needs of the profession.
- To ensure the academic rigour and creative flair is maintained the course is reviewed annually by External Examiners from practice and academia.
- We draw on our excellent links and extensive network of local, regional and national practices and employers to support you to find your career path.
- Our flexible learning ensures you can find a study mode that suits your personal life and existing commitments. Our conversion course allows you to spread your Year 2 modules over 2 academic years.
- Our modules, including our new Design for Climate Change module, provide a fascinating forum for innovation and exploration of new sustainable approaches to respond to climate change emergency, biodiversity loss and designing resilient places and communities. This course is ideally placed to develop employability skills that will position you at the forefront of these subjects.
- The innovative Co.Lab module provides an opportunity to explore the complex nature and the challenges of being a landscape architect. Live design briefs provide a range of challenges arising from collaborative partnership working on design for real learning scenarios with Co.Lab clients.
- You’ll develop high level design processes skills through process-led narratives using industry standard visual communication which include model making and 3D printing, digital design, virtual reality, GIS, visualisation and rendering, and drawing.
- We have a long tradition of high-level research with a number of landscape architects and alumni who have continued to study for a PhD.
- You will receive great support from our teaching team with plenty of 1:1 tutorials and low student/staff ratios ensuring that you get plenty of time to take your ideas to the next level.
|Essential requirements (UK Students)|
|Entry to year 1 (Conversion Course): Minimum Lower Second-Class degree (2:2).|
International students must meet all the Border Agency entry criteria for the programme.International Student entry requirements
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 2 years (3 year option available - see below*)
- £6,600 per year
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 2 years
- £13,200 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.
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 are likely to be in the region of £150 to £200.
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.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
Field trips (optional)
This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.
You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course. As a student on our Landscape Institute (LI) accredited course, you can enjoy free access to the LI campus, free access to the LI journal and discounts on LI events.
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.
*Conversion route options and fees
You will have the option to study the Master’s element either full time or part time following discussion with the Course Director.
Option 1: Conversion plus MA over 2 years
Attendance is one day per week in year one, and two days per week in year two.
Option 2: Conversion plus MA over 3 years
Attendance is one day per week over three years. You would pay the full time fee for year 1 and the part time fee in years 2 and 3. The part time fee is 50% of the full time fee.
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 a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 60 credits):
This module delivers a range of skills that support keys stages of the design process, it is designed to provide a foundation level of knowledge and develops techniques and abilities through experiential learning and equips you with a range of practical competencies to help you communicate your ideas through all stages of the design process.
This module introduces you to the scope, extent and diversity of the designed environment and introduces the construct that we live in a dynamic global ecology where human interventions on Earths natural systems range in scale from the modification of Earth’s atmosphere resulting in Climate Change, remodelling of the ice caps, destruction of the rainforest, to legislation and technologies that transforms urban air quality to facilitate the establishment of urban lichen communities. ‘Our Common Future’ sets the framework for Landscape Architects to use innovation and creativity to mitigate and protect our environment. These designed ecologies provide a fascinating laboratory for Landscape Architecture students to investigate, explore and experiment with natural systems and resources using elements of nature to enhance, mitigate and improve the world we live in.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 240 credits):
This module builds on the design capabilities achieved in the Designed Ecologies module and provides opportunities for students to develop design skills ensuring competencies in the design of new habitats, modification and adaptation of ecosystems and enrichment of the quality of Landscape spaces in urban, rural and geographies that cross a range of scales
Landscape – Culture and Nature forms part of the ‘foundation’ in Landscape Architecture for students undertaking the ‘Conversion’ Route MA Landscape Architecture (MALA). It offers an ‘introduction’ to the complex set of interactions and change that have brought about the UK Landscape. Many of the principles underlying these will also, by implication, be ‘transferable’ to the study and understanding of other cultures and landscapes. The term ‘Landscape’ in this context does not only refer to the ‘green’ environment but also to the processes of industrialisation and urbanisation set in their historical and spatial context. The Module will seek to present ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ as being intrinsically linked and interactive; both being crucial to a full understanding of the ‘Landscape’.
The purpose of this module is to introduce the student to the contemporary issues and challenges that landscapes and the built environment are facing. This studio project consists of a number of exercises, undertaken as part of one overall project, that explore the design process by considering design as an analytical, artistic, observant and interpretative activity.
This module provides a fascinating theatre for innovation and exploration of sustainable and new approaches to deal with climate change, biodiversity loss and resilience. You will research the issues and opportunities to inform the design for climate change considering a range of scales as well as the political, economic, social and physical/environment parameters that effect this geographical sphere. According to the Landscape Institute, “professions that best understand the built and natural environments will be best placed to tackle climate change”.
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.
The thesis design project is a comprehensive and wide ranging project which is designed to enable you to demonstrate the standards identified in the Master’s level QAA Benchmark Statement. You will engage with the growing international debate around the need to develop new approaches to spatial design, driven by the recognition that the socio-economic benefits of adopting holistic, artistic, ecological and conceptual approaches to master planning and regeneration. This is becoming increasingly evident and are regarded as essential if we are to respond to the challenges of natural resource shortage ("peak oil", water, etc.), climate change adaptation and mitigation, unprecedented urban growth, Health and well-being and a changing economy.
This module applies and develops the skills and knowledge developed in the design process studio to the research and analysis of detailed design, exploring how ideas can be expressed spatially and visually through the selection and design of hard and soft materials. Contributing to a research strategy that aims to move design issues in landscape architecture away from a purely technical approach towards a conceptually driven and challenging practice, the module connects into the realm of cultural and contextual issues. Increasing complexity, design skill and knowledge of the materiality of the discipline. You will investigate case studies and critically evaluate landscape as the generative influence on the spatial form of the design. Building up knowledge of different perspectives, contextual and trans-disciplinary knowledge students investigate and respond to a contemporary issue such as inclusive design.
The majority of your studies will be assessed by coursework. We feel this best mirrors the way you'd work in the real world and so better prepares you for a career in landscape design and architecture.
The teaching approach places an emphasis on the studio format, supported by a series of lectures and workshops delivered by renowned landscape practitioners and educators from the UK and overseas. We will continue to develop our Expert Lecture series and as a guide to the quality and range of speakers, with last year’s series welcoming Claude Cormier (Canada), Andrew Charleson (New Zealand), Kim Wilkie (UK) and Noel Farrer PLI (UK).
If you haven't got a background in landscape architecture, you can build expertise and establish the fundamental design principles on the Conversion Course, introducing you to the core skills needed throughout the design process, studying plant ecologies in urban and rural ecosystems, explore how the quality of life for urban communities and commerce can be enhanced. Understand and interpret landscape culture and set the foundations for progression onto the second year of the programme (MA).
The second year promotes the studio as an environment of investigation, collaboration and experimentation. You will develop your own identity as a designer through personal research leading to a final piece of work considering how other perspectives should contribute to design decision-making. Develop and apply the skills that you have established within the studio, design exercises and analysis of design. You can extend your portfolio of skills and strengthen your CV through the Co-LAB module, developing capabilities and contextual understanding for the workplace. You will also produce a design thesis, responding to the world's shortages in resources.
You will be based in our Bauhaus inspired City Centre Campus Parkside Building and have access to industry standard facilities including digital studios, 3D design workshops, 3D printing and rapid prototyping.
We have a range of excellent resources including Eastside Park, and the Botanical Gardens on our doorsteps and regularly visit leading horticulture nurseries and Westonbirt Arboretum. The dynamic evolution of Birmingham through the implementation of the Big City Plan provides inspiration to your studies, introducing a strong example of contemporary civic space and park design and a laboratory to work and learn in.
This course is accredited by the following organisation:
The course is fully recognised and accredited by the Landscape Institute (LI), the UK national organisation for landscape professionals concerned with enhancing and conserving the environment.
Our accreditation shows employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and skills they need. The revalidation process takes place annually by the Landscape Institute’s Professional Review Group and they look very closely at the way the course is designed to meet the requirements of today’s profession.
Enhancing your employability skills
The skillsets delivered by the course leave you are in a strong position when applying for jobs.
This is particularly supported through the Praxis module, designed to ensure you are confident at an interview. To support this further, we also have workshops on Auto-CAD, Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, helping to develop very strong portfolios that demonstrate the full range of visual communications skills.
Birmingham City University has strong links with industry and the reputation of the landscape architecture courses provides a head start for applicants. Career opportunities are extensive across the UK. Recent graduates are working for an extensive range of practices, which include:
AHR Global, Amey, Arup, Atkins Global, BEA Bradley Murphy Associates, Birmingham City Council, Camlins Associates, Capita, Define, Fira, FPCR, IDP, Land Use Consultants, Node Urban Design, Pegasus Planning, WSP Parkinson Brinkerhoff.
There is a clear structure to achieving Chartership status of the Landscape Institute. Recently employed graduate members of the profession are on the ‘Pathway to Chartership’. These are mentored roles in which ‘Licentiates’ are involved in site mapping and survey work, design development work and supporting the project team in all aspects of the design process.
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.
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
Our international reputation, professional accreditation and outstanding graduate success rate attracts students from the UK, Europe and South East Asia.
Anastastia studied the Masters in Landscape Architecture and is now doing a PhD.
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.
Senior Tutor/ Postgraduate Course Director
Russell Good’s research explores ecological and hydrological systems in the context of climate change, in order to inform and develop new aesthetic codes in landscape design. Using the urban River Rea in Digbeth, Birmingham as a laboratory, he is examining how ecological processes can be used as a device in place making, to enhance biodiversity and draw upon the richness of new layers of animal and plant life to provide a living dynamic that informs our sensory perception of place.More about Russell
Dr Sandra Costa
Course Director MA Landscape Architecture
Sandra is a lecturer and researcher in landscape architecture and design with diversified experience encompassing teaching, research and professional practice. She has lectured in the UK and Portugal in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Her teaching explores current issues and challenges faced by landscapes and the built environment, to create resilient environments, healthy urban landscapes and long-term visions for areas identified for future housing and employment, together with strategies relating to important matters such as climate change, food urbanism and public health and wellbeing.
She has a strong interest in user-based perceptions, experiences and interactions with the environment. Her research has focused on exploring the choreographies of landscape experience through which individuals negotiate wellbeing. Emphasis is on the in-depth nature of person-place interactions and the role of places in the production of loops of ‘positive states of being’, ‘enhanced spatial awareness’ and specific identities of self.More about Sandra
Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Level 5 Leader
Dawn’s educational and work experience crosses the disciplines of landscape architecture, architecture, product design and garden design.
She has been involved with projects ranging from restoration of domestic listed building in the UK, large-scale landscape developments in the Middle East, private garden design in the UK and product design and prototyping in Singapore.
Her research interests include reflective practice and design pedagogy, place attachment, and representation techniques in landscape architecture. This is reflected in her experience as a lecturer in landscape architecture and garden design at Writtle University College, lecturer and acting programme leader at Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art (BIFCA) and her current role as lecturer in landscape architecture and level 5 leader at Birmingham City University.
Dawn is an advocate for interdisciplinary project work and enjoys the challenge of integrating theoretical research with practical studio-based work.More about Dawn
Professor Kathryn Moore
Professor of Landscape Architecture
Professor of landscape architecture Kathryn Moore has published extensively on design quality, theory, education and practice. She is also President of the International Federation of Landscape Institute and past President of the Landscape Institute, UK.More about Kathryn