Course specification and structure
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PMARHTRW - MA Architectural History, Research and Writing

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Master of Arts Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
Total credits for course 180
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Subject Area Architecture
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 1 YEARS  
Part-time 2 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

MA in Architectural History, Research and Writing uses experiential and situated learning; specifically making use of London’s material culture by incorporating visits to buildings, museums and galleries in London. These extend the students’ knowledge around the History and theory of architecture, as well as inform the students’ interests within the course and their choice of topics and themes to write about.

A constructionism approach is adopted with respect to how students formulate ideas around topics of their interests. This is reflected on the assessment (coursework and presentation): topics are largely the choice of students who are then guided by tutors in terms of methodology.

In-class presentations rely on extensive discursive interactions peer-to-peer feedback as well as guidance and feedback from the tutors. Students come to an understanding of how to use the received formative feedback by learning how to also provide it, and vice-versa. This is related to building employability skills (presentation skills, communication skills, collaboration skills in problem-solving, etc.)

The modules are taught by experienced researchers, who bring to the modules their own expertise in subjects as well as methodologies, and their contacts (guest lecturers and seminar participants, cross-course collaborations with Design Studios, etc.). This encourages the formation or extending of communities of practice, which continue to exist after the course.

Teaching is flexible and responsive. It takes place in the studio, on walks, in seminars, workshops, presentations, exhibitions, using social media and other online communication tools, and this range of teaching methods allows tutors to adapt constantly as students’ needs change through the year.

The History and Theory team of tutors has since the establishment of the current version of Weblearn used the platform extensively, in the Critical and Contextual Studies modules (UG) and the History and Theory modules (PG). All the modules in this MA are supported by a strong online presence: curriculum outlines, readings as PDF, useful web links, recorded lectures from relevant/affiliated modules, Zotero bibliographies — these are all available on Weblearn. Feedback for summative assessment is also provided via Turnitin/Weblearn and so it is available 24/7, and for a considerable time after the completion of modules, for the students’ benefit.

Workshops by the subject librarian in collaboration with tutors are offered to assist students with the use of online databases (e.g. Jstor, Art Full text, etc.). Proficiency in online research constitutes a highly valued employability skill and ‘21st century skill’.

Course aims

The overall aims of the course are to:

1. understand and use creatively the different forms of knowledge within the field of architectural history and theory;
2. undertake rigorous and original research into historical, theoretical, and cultural topics;
3. demonstrate a high level of skill in the communication and written practices involved in architectural history and research;
4. deploy critical skills in analysing and proposing architectural histories, theories and interpretations, especially in writing

Course learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will, through their academic portfolio, demonstrate that they have achieved the following course learning outcomes.

11a. Knowledge and Understanding

By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

1. have acquired a deeper knowledge and critical understanding of different frameworks and backgrounds of thought that shape architectural history, theory and interpretation; (CA2, 4)
2. have knowledge of ways to understand and utilise processes and techniques of academic scholarship and research in advancing the boundaries of knowledge, scholarship and cultural association of architecture; (CA1, 4)
3. acquire and develop a specific set of interests in a selection of philosophical, literary and theoretical texts that provide important bearings on architectural history and theory; (CA1, 2, 4)
4. understand how the wealth and cultural significance of available source material can be used to illuminate architectural thinking; (CA1, 3)
5. acquire a deeper knowledge and critical understanding of examples of themes, narratives, cultural practices or theories found within, or relevant to, architecture. (CA1, 2)

11b. Cognitive Skills/Intellectual Skills

By the end of the course, the student is expected to develop higher order skills that are reflected in their ability to:

1. develop capabilities to conduct and utilize information obtained through surveying of different forms of knowledge and types of material through lectures, seminars, visits, individual and group research; (CA1, 3)
2. develop capabilities to deal with the intellectual issues enjoined in the form and content of architectural enquiry; (CA1, 4)
3. formulate and communicate clearly the value of, and put to constructive use, critical contributions to the field; (CA3, 4)
4. test written propositions about architecture, ranging from specific questions about single structures to cultural-historical issues; (CA1, 4)
5. make convincing, coherent and original interpretations of the complex and disparate material bearing on the field; (CA3,)
6. critically reflect on implications of methods employed in the development of research and the way critical enquiry are deployed to create and further architectural history, theory and culture. (CA1, 4)

11c. Practical skills

By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

1. make close readings of written texts; (CA2,4)
2. collate, document and present sophisticated and complex research material and compose coherent bodies of material for analysis and interpretation; (CA2, 3)
3. use productively a range of established techniques of academic research involving buildings, artifacts, libraries, archives, and collections; (CA2, 4)
4. develop effective strategies to develop and investigate unfamiliar techniques or materials, or new combinations of conventional methods, for researching architectural history and theory; (CA1, 2, 4)
5. develop effective means to relate close observation and direct experience (fieldwork) of material to given histories and theories; (CA1, 2)
6. gain a detailed understanding of the methods and means available to achieve high standards of communication in writing and presenting material. (CA3)

11d. Key/transferable skills including employability and professional practice

By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

1. demonstrate self-direction, personal responsibility and initiative in achieving work goals; (CA1, 2, 3, 4)
2. see and make connections between different areas of knowledge; (CA1, 4)
3. research intellectually complex topics; (CA2, 4)
4. communicate clearly to specialists and non-specialist audiences; (CA3)
5. work productively in collaboration with others, different institutions and professional frameworks; (CA1, 3, 4)
6. continue learning to further advance knowledge and understanding and develop new skills. (CA1, 2, 3, 4)

Additionally, the course will typically equip the student with an advanced understanding of the cultural field of their research subject by encouraging the development of professional and transferable skills through the means of delivery and assessment:

Learning outcomes promoted by the teaching/learning strategies and methods employed in the delivery of the course include:

• reading assignments involving a wide range of texts;
• group and individual discussion of frameworks and material to test assumptions and connections;
• emphasis on discursive nature of architectural history and theory through study of wide range of material and ideas;
• emphasis on developing well directed and well-grounded individual body of work;
• study of different types of writing and other subject related media and their effectiveness in communicating with their audience;
• engagement with different forms of presentation including oral and visual;
• comparisons between different ideas and experiences of architecture;
• demonstrate self-direction, personal responsibility and initiative in achieving work goals;
• see and make connections between different areas of knowledge.;
• research intellectually complex topics;
• communicate clearly to specialists and non-specialist audiences;
• work productively in collaboration with others, different institutions and professional frameworks;
• continue learning to further advance knowledge and understanding and develop new skills.

Skills developed though the means of assessment includes:

• reflect productively on the observation and direct experience of architecture;

• the testing of knowledge and understanding focuses on breadth and depth of knowledge demonstrated in written assignments including full-length essays, articles, reviews culminating in a dissertation, these include the integration of visual material;
• workshops on research techniques and sources, taking notes, assembling evidence, planning, writing and presentation, conventions of scholarship;
• group and individual projects involving research in libraries, archives, collections and fieldwork;

• close study and discussion of selected texts through seminars;
• lectures and seminars which discuss connections and make comparisons between form and content of material being investigated;
• class group and individual visits to buildings, exhibitions, and cultural events;

• formative assessments focusing on essay and project preparation, seminar presentations and group discussions.

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Code Module Title LO 11a Knowledge and Understanding
LO 11b Cognitive Skills/Intellectual Skills
LO11c Practical skills
LO11d Key/transferable skills including employability and professional practice

AR7001 Histories LO1; LO5; LO1; LO 5; LO1; LO 2;LO 4; LO 5; LO1; LO 2; LO 3;
AR7002 Theories LO1; LO2; LO1; LO 3; LO1; LO 2; LO 6; LO1; LO 2; LO 3;
AR7003 Interpretations LO1; LO4; LO1; LO 2; LO1; LO 2; LO 3; LO 5; LO1; LO 2; LO 4;
AR7051 Writing about architecture LO 4; LO 3; LO 3; LO 4; LO 6; LO1; LO 2; LO 2; LO 3; LO 4; LO 5; LO1; LO 4; LO 5; LO 6;


AR7004 Cinema and the City and

AR7007 Poetry and Architecture and

AR7049 The Problem of Irony

LO 2; LO 3;
LO 5; LO 2; LO 3; LO 5; LO 6; LO1; LO 2; LO 4; LO 6; LO1; LO 2; LO 3; LO 4; LO 6;

AR7P18 Dissertation LO2; LO 3; LO4; LO 5; LO 2; LO 3; LO 4; LO 5; LO 6; LO1; LO 2; LO 2; LO 4; LO 5; LO 6; LO1; LO 2; LO 3; LO 4; LO 6;

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject benchmark statement: History of Art, Architecture and Design (February 2017)

Assessment strategy

The assessment for the modules includes: essays (typically 4,000 words), presentations, and shorter pieces of writing (such as abstracts, literature review and research methodology). The final assignment is a dissertation (10-12,000 words).

Staff and students engage in dialogue to promote a shared understanding of the basis on which academic judgments are made. The processes for marking assessments and for moderating marks are clearly articulated and consistently operated by those involved in the assessment process, including the external examiner of the course.

Formative feedback is provided regularly in all modules, in the course of seminars, workshops, tutorials, critiques and visits. Feedback on formative assessments is timely, constructive and developmental. Students thus develop an understanding of, and the necessary skills to demonstrate, good academic practice.

Presentations afford the students the opportunity to rehearse topics and ideas, and thus construct their work gradually, and in clearly defined steps. Students receive constructive feedback by tutors and other students towards completing their written assignments (essay/dissertation). The presentation sessions are also occasions for self-reflection. They are strategically placed at critical developmental stages of the assignment, so that a discourse develops around the students’ research, which enables them to proceed with confidence about their idea/topic, awareness of other students’ interests and progress, and a clear understanding of what improvement is required.

Summative assessment is situated at the end of each module (i.e. three modules at the end of each semester, and dissertation at the end of the summer term and the course). Written feedback evidences the success of the outcome as well as informs the students about the strength of their methodology and their overall improvement.

In conclusion, the volume, timing and nature of assessment enable students to demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the intended learning outcomes throughout the formative stage of the course, and again at final submission at the end.

Types of assessment (summary)

Students are assessed on coursework only (no exams). Students will:
• produce short essays (4000 words) or equivalent (e.g. portfolio of shorter texts, total of 4000 words);
• produce preparatory work for their dissertation (e.g. abstract, research methodology, literature review, etc.), which constitute marked components;

• deliver presentations of their research in class;
• write a dissertation (10-12,000 words).

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad


Course specific regulations

The course will undertake a formal academic review of student performance at the end of each semester. Students performing below threshold standard will be recommended and/or required to revise their programme of study.

Level 7: In order to qualify for the award of MA Architectural History, Research and Writing students must have completed and passed each Level 7 module of the course at 50% or above.

In part-time mode, the duration of study for a 180-credit degree will be two years. The prescribed pattern of study in this instance shall be:

Year 1 –
Sem A: AR7001 and (AR7002 or AR7003)
Sem B: AR7051 and (AR7004 or AR7007 or AR7049)

Year 2 –
Sem A: AR7003 or AR7002
Sem B: AR7004 or AR7007 or AR7049
Sem A and B: AR7P18

Modules required for interim awards

PG Certificate in Architectural History, Research and Writing (60 credits)
Histories (20), Theories (20) and Interpretations (20) or Histories (20), Theories (20) and Writing about Architecture (20)

PG Diploma in Architectural History, Research and Writing (120 credits)
Histories (20), Theories (20), Interpretations (20), Writing about Architecture (20) and 2 elective modules from: Cinema and the City (20), The Problem of Irony (20), Poetry and Architecture (20)

MA in Architectural History, Research and Writing (180 credits)
Histories (20), Theories (20), Interpretations (20), Writing about Architecture (20), Dissertation (60 credits), and 2 elective modules from: Cinema and the City (20), The Problem of Irony (20), Poetry and Architecture (20)

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The dialogical format of teaching on this modules favours the student voice as a constant contributor to shaping the content and understanding with regard to ‘what is learned and how it is achieved’. The formative feedback sessions throughout the modules are conducive to a development of an informal learning contract, which forms the intended outcome of individual research projects (thesis projects, essays, etc.)

The particular focus of the course will be communicated in the process of engaging with the discipline of writing within a design and practice context. The expectations of participants in the course regarding the outcome of their learning experience can therefore be individually addressed within a wider framework of pedagogy dialogical learning and teaching as well as the developing research culture at the CASS. The discourses around the agendas of individual research project can therefore find a platform for critical evaluation (including peer-to-peer reviews) within the framework of the course.

Other external links providing expertise and experience


Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

Upon completion of the course students will have obtained valuable skills for/towards:

a) continuing into an academic research career (MPhil, PhD) and into teaching (a number of former students are currently employed in teaching) academia/ education;
b) writing articles, reviews for architectural magazines, such as Architectural Review, or academic articles/essays for journals such as Architecture and Culture or Places Journal academia/ research/ journalism;
c) pursuing other types of architectural writing: (books, online, travel writing, academic journals, etc.) Academia/ research/ journalism;
d) writing and editing texts for architectural practice: e.g. texts for project presentations, prospectuses, promotional publications, competition entries, etc. Architectural practice/ professional writing;
e) pursuing a curatorial career which requires research skills, competence in writing and good understanding of architectural and art concepts (e.g. museums; Venice Biennale; Architecture organisations such as the Architecture Foundation) architecture/ museum culture/ exhibition curation.

Career opportunities

Students from the MA (under its previous title: Architectural Histories, Theories and Interpretations MA) have gone on to teach at higher education institutions. Others have continued their architectural career equipped with insights into the historical fabric of buildings and cities.

Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in architecture, or a subject discipline related to architecture, the arts or humanities

A full online university application will need to be submitted, which includes a detailed statement to support your application for the course. If you live in the UK, you will be invited to a portfolio interview. If you live outside the UK you will be required to submit a small portfolio of work via email. To find out what to include in your portfolio, view our portfolio guidance.

Consideration will be given to those without standard entry qualifications who have gained non-certified experience through prior learning, provided evidence is given that this is equivalent to the entry qualifications for a postgraduate course.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2019/20 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 10 Jun 2019 Last validation date 10 Jun 2019  
JACS codes
Route code ARHTRW

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
AR7001 Histories Core 20        
AR7002 Theories Core 20        
AR7003 Interpretation¬† Core 20        
AR7051 Writing About Architecture Core 20        
AR7P18 Design Thesis Core 60        
AR7004 Cinema and the City Option 20        
AR7007 Poetry and Architecture Option 20        
AR7049 The Problem of Irony Option 20