module specification

AR4001 - Design Skills 1.1 (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Design Skills 1.1
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
180 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
120 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio
Attendance Requirement 0%   Attendance
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Afternoon
Year City Monday Morning

Module summary

The module introduces the basic process of design for architecture and interior architecture, from conceptual idea to a three-dimensional realisation. Students learn to produce a range of drawing and modeling techniques that enable them to creatively explore and engage in the design process and begin to see the relation between intention, process and outcome through actively producing work.

The module is designed to orientate students through the introduction of different ways of thinking about and communicating ideas about the subject and the context in which they working.It introduces a range of drawing and modelling techniques necessary to represent and communicate design ideas. It establishes the need for designers to think critically in their use of different media and in working at different scales. The module encourages students to explore the possibilities of evocative, analytical and measured drawing in the representation of existing and proposed spaces and their 3-dimensional and material qualities.

The module introduces the use of research, precedents, modelling and testing ideas in a design project through techniques of making and prototyping, workshop practice and the creative use of materials in producing a design.In terms of drawing the techniques involved range from measured drawings/models, to conceptual sketches to evocative representations of the design in both 2D and 3D. The visual and material investigations are broadened in scope through precedent studies that include, for example, buildings, interiors, spaces, projects, technologies, details, and exemplars from traditional and emergent fields of art and design practice. It links with art practice and examines the role played by drawing, making and representation in design.

The module includes formal introductions to the School’s making workshops, the acquisition of basic technical skills and competence, sound studio practice and health and safety considerations.  It provides a basic introduction to the appropriate use of materials, related processes and technical applications in the development of ideas, models and prototypes.

Module aims

The module aims to introduce students to the skills, processes and practices involved in a design project. It engages the student in a range of material processes by means of which the student can understand, think about,and engage witharchitectural and interior design. The module focuses on learning a range of skills and techniques whilst simultaneously employing them as conceptual and productive tools in their creative application to design projects. The module supports experiment, trial and error through short projects and exercises that build confidence and competence, and experiential as well as formal knowledge and understanding.

The module aims to enable students to develop an understanding of space and materials, their qualitative and quantitative perception. It familiarizes students with methods for fabricating 3D artifacts, models, prototypes and full scale investigations, and 2D and 3D drawings, sketches, diagrams, collage, photographs, prints and mixed media representations, and their uses in generating, materializing, transforming and communicating ideas. It introduces students to the role of representation in design and links with art practice.


The syllabus establishes the conceptual exploratory nature of drawing and visual communications in parallel with a series of recording and analytical drawing and modelling activities based on selected existing spaces.  It establishes the process of development from idea to a prototypical material outcome and relates this to designing through a series of three-dimensional projects of increasing size and complexity.Examples of making processes and outcomes will vary but are based on methods of casting, wasting, forming and constructing and are interwoven with conceptual and design processes and outcomes, e.g. analytical, creative and lateral thinking. This is used to make intellectual and practical explorations of, investigations into and propositions for materials, artefacts, constructs and spaces.

The syllabus is project based and varies from year to year.  The following programme is indicative:

• Weeks 1- 7 Initial skilling project
• Week 8 field trip led by design team or CCS team
• Weeks 9-10 presentationinitial project and making workshop
• Week 11 formative portfolio feedback 
• Weeks 12-18 context related project
• Week 19 formative review with feedback
• Week 20-25 finalizing project
• Week 26 main portfolio submission and formative feedback in an academic conversation
• Week 27-30 final model preparation and photographic studio

Learning and teaching

The teaching and learning in this module takes place within a year group. Students develop practical and manual skills in order to undertake the analytical and interpretative work involved in project design. The module is taught through hands-on workshops in the studios, workshops and computer labs, and by site visits, and is supported by lectures, seminars, demonstrations, induction sessions and classes, technical and academic tutorials. The teaching and learning strategy is essentially experiential and active because it involves students doing things, both in class and as part of their self-directed studies.

The projects themselves are taught through a wide variety of means.  These include:

• site visits and field work;
• meetings with clients, consultants or users;
• visits (real and virtual) to related or more generally relevant events, buildings, exhibitions;
• lectures, talks and seminars on project related issues;
• group work doing surveys or modelling contexts;
• class presentations, peer review, public reviews or ‘crits’, and tutor feedback;
• project and portfolio tutorials.

Students are required to both build up their skills as part of the self-directed studies, and progress their ability to evaluate and discriminate between techniques and outcomes.  Reflective learning is built into the basic structure of the module.  It occurs during the process of drawing or making itself as well as when the process is complete; it is formally exercised in the several pin-ups and presentations that characterise studio work

The course is supported by on line resources that encourage integrated learning. These include reference material and weekly events (for example, drawing or model of the week).

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Use a range of making and modelling techniques to explore and explain the development of a project, and that show an understanding of materials and the process of making as well as their spatial and representational value;
2. Demonstrate skills in a range of 2D drawing, recording and rendering techniques thatanalyze and interpret material and spatial qualities;
3. Appropriately and productively employ a range of 2D and 3D techniques to explore and fabricate design ideas;
4. Read, understand and use the basic orthographic conventions of precisely drawn plans, sections, elevations, perspective and axonometric conventions in freehand and technical drawings to accurately measure, represent and communicate a given 3D space at different scales.
5. Demonstrate an awareness of the place of making, drawing and representation within a cultural and theoretical framework and appreciate its creative role in the design process

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed as a whole in portfolio at the end of the academic year. 

The assessment criteria are based on how well the student has fulfilled the learning outcomes.

The portfolio will normally include the range of drawings and models indicated in the module learning outcomes as developed for the project briefs, set exercises, design processes and project presentations.  These will be evaluated in terms of range, depth, creativity and originality as well as standards of accuracy and skills of execution. In addition evidence in the portfolio is required of key stages in the development of the work, both material and conceptual, demonstrating an effective learning process.

In the portfolio, all three-dimensional work must appear in two-dimensional format as photographs and drawings. The development work should also be included in the portfolio to show how the design process have informed and progressed the projects, their source and reference material, ideas and experiments. The portfolio must be carefully edited and organised and the content clearly labelled.

Students are expected to attend all taught sessions. Attendance will be reviewed as part of the assessment process and a mark of either satisfactory or non-satisfactory will be awarded.


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