module specification

AR7017 - Design: Concept and Proposition (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Design: Concept and Proposition
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 400
328 hours Guided independent study
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio (Local Submission to Central House) *FC*
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Afternoon
Year City Thursday Afternoon
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

Module code: AR7017
Module title: Design: Concept and Proposition
Description: This module, within the context of an industrial design unit builds upon skills and
knowledge developed through design research and established within a design
Semester: Autumn/Spring

Corequisite: AR016 Design Research
Assessment: 100% Portfolio

Prior learning requirements

Corequisite: AR7016N Design Research

Module aims

This module builds on the skills and knowledge developed in the design research programme. It exercises the students ability to propose design schemes that embody clear and appropriate conceptual frameworks against which the design proposals may be tested. The conceptual frameworks should be derived from research and govern the rationale of the design proposal. The design proposals should be sufficiently developed through a process of rigorous testing to demonstrate the validity of the concepts in some detail and against a range of criteria relevant to the built environment.

The module aims to strengthen students command of the design process in practical and theoretical terms. The development of the design scheme will, within the wider context of the design research, establish the parameters and focus of the Thesis Proposal.


The syllabus for this module is specific to the programme of the different design units, each of which sets new projects each year. The common framework for the module is established through a generic process which is inherently developmental but often non-linear in character.

Each design unit will set a project or related set of projects that require design solutions. These may be focused on any relevant aspect of the built environment field and may include, for example, architecture, interior design, urbanism, community regeneration, sustainable architecture, engineering, housing, proto-typical technologies. These topics may be weighted theoretically or practically. The outline programme for the module is presented at the start of the session by the different design units and students may select which design unit and programme they wish to work with.

Students completing this module will normally have undertaken the design research module and have assembled a focused body of research which should be used to inform this module. Concept and Proposition focuses on the construction of a robust conceptual framework that can act as the rationale for a completed design proposal or series of linked proposals: the final proposals should, therefore, be legible as ‘propositions’.

The requirement for legibility entails the development of a well tested design scheme, the various stages of which should be evident to demonstrate how the testing procedures have informed the development of the conceptual framework. This ‘process’ is important as students should be making critical judgements about the relative value of their ideas as a project unfolds (editing, changing, discarding, reformulating, reconstructing etc.) in relation to complex criteria. ‘Concept’ and ‘Proposition’ are both contained in representational techniques and media that embody how the ideas work theoretically and practically. The design process thus describes a dual activity, one that mediates between conceptual frameworks and testing procedures and encourages conceptual jumps as well logical procedures.

This module focuses on the design process as the critical vehicle in integrating ‘concept and proposition’ with the aim of producing a well thought through design scheme, one founded on a rationale that digs deeper then conventional formats and one which encourages innovative thinking and original work.

Learning and teaching

Teaching and Learning methods include:

1. introductory talks and discussions on a range of different design processes; their use in practice and relationship to methods in other areas of the built environment field;
2. a studio project set out through a written brief; site or project related visits; talks by/discussions with parties involved in project or related issues; reference to primary and secondary sources of material; workshops on appropriate design processes;
3. individual and group work developing design proposals using an appropriate range of media and techniques;
4. individual and group work developing the project through tutorials, seminars, crits and presentations on work in progress involving peers, tutors and subject specialists;
5. individual development of a portfolio that fully documents the project rationale, design process and final scheme.

Opportunities for pdp are available through the module’s programmme of learning starting with the choice of studio units and range of projects.  It is further developed through the portfolio of works prepared for assessment, supported by individual tutorials.  This may contribute directly to the portfolio required for subsequent job applications.

Learning outcomes

On completing the modulethe student should be able to:

1. formulate and communicate clear and well founded conceptual frameworks that underpin design proposals;
2. construct effective design processes that can be used to rigorously test design concepts against a wide range of practical and theoretical criteria relevant to the built environment;
3. critically reflect on the implications of intentional and unintentional propositions embedded in a design proposal;
4. direct and manage an appropriate design process to achieve a convincing and well worked through design proposition;
5. communicate effectively  the ideas and intentions behind a design proposal through an
appropriate range of representational techniques.

Assessment strategy

Module assessment will be based on the presentation of a Portfolio which will demonstrate through appropriate modes of documentation:
a) A clearly communicated design concept that is perceptive in its analysis of key issues, well constructed in its rationale and engaging in terms of ideas.
b) A productive design process that identifies the range and relevance of the criteria involved and rigorously tests the design concepts and propositions against these criteria.
c) A process of critical evaluation reflected in the progression of the design proposal.
d) A well resolved and represented final design proposition that can sustain its argument.

Work will be evaluated in the above categories against the following criteria:
· Density - scope and ambition of work in resolving complex and contradictory issues
· Relevance
· Clarity of thinking
· Innovation
· Critical evaluation
· Quality of communication

Modes of documentation may include: drawings; photographic material; multi-media material; quantitative data; qualitative data; 3D models or prototypes; web-based material. All 3D and multi-media work should be recorded in graphic form and explained to a standard suitable for assessment purposes.


Key theoretical texts that any well informed student should be familiar with - i.e. essential to their intellectual equipment and understanding of architectural culture and its context - and without which it is difficult to hold a conversation.