module specification

AR7023 - Advocacy: Practice Beyond Aesthetics (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Advocacy: Practice Beyond Aesthetics
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Unseen Examination 30%   1-hour test.
Coursework 70%   2500-word professional practice essay
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Wednesday Morning
Autumn semester City Monday Morning

Module summary

Advocacy: Practice Beyond Aesthetics looks at the practice of architecture as a complex form of advocacy, the different manifestations of which promote different values. The module deals with implicit and explicit codes and different forms of argument and evidence. The module aims to teach skills pertaining to Ethical and Professional Practice (‘Themes and Values’ from RIBA: The Way Ahead 2022).

The module aims to exercise your capacity for professional judgement, in preparation for RIBA Parts 2 and 3, whilst retaining the critical freedom of the academic framework. It aims for you to develop your ethical and professional practice and come to understand the roles and responsibilities of the architect in relation to legal, statutory, economic, management, ethical, social and political obligations. Health and life safety within the built environment are examined through the role of the architect and our responsibilities in relation to current fire safety regulations. The topics discussed during the module will deliver you the skills appropriate to the identification and procurement of state or privately funded work related to the activities of the construction and property industries, the legal and financial professions and regulatory bodies.

You will be asked to examine an existing form of practice (either traditional or non-traditional), the way real buildings and their ideas are procured and to explore alternative forms of managing the process. Your final essay will advocate a particular role for architects within society, arising from the study of a current work of architecture and an understanding of legal (planning and contractual), economic and political constraints. There will be a short test of your knowledge of professional codes and legal issues with feedback prior to the final submission.

The module aims to provide a practical framework through which you can address the professional practice and academic discipline of architecture as outlined in the ARB/RIBA Joint Criteria ‘The Way Ahead, Education Themes and Values’ 2021 as well as ‘Guidance Notes to Institutions’ issued by the ARB in 2021 outlining the core competences expected at RIBA 2.


'A work of architecture is invariably an advertisement of a point of view. It is never either pure form or pure function, nor can it be simply a mixture of both; but always, either forcibly or feebly, it involves an act of judgement. It is an attitude taken up with regard to society, history and change, the nature of pleasure, and other matters quite extraneous to either technique or taste.'

Colin Rowe, from the Cambridge Review, October 31, 1959.

The formal syllabus will examine several topic areas that are seen as critical interfaces within the profession. They will guide you in selecting and developing your own framework and incorporating previous work or academic experience. Typically, these will include introduction to the variety of roles that architects might and do take; the ethics of architecture (professional codes and liability); management practices (different forms); legal practices (planning/agreements/contracts/employment); financial practices (politics/economics); regulatory practices (sustainability/energy/health and life safety).

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching provides the guidance and foundation to ensure that independent study is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks.
The balance is approximately 1:4, where 80% of the time will be spent in independent study (i.e. research, interviews, developing writing/communication skills and revising for test).

In-class activity makes use of varied student-centred approaches such as active, flipped and blended learning, so that a range of learning strategies is deployed and individual learning styles are accommodated. Information is provided through a range of means and sources to minimise and remove barriers to successful progress through the module. The course team seeks to embed the University’s Education for Social Justice Framework in fostering learning that is enjoyable, accessible, relevant and that takes account of the social and cultural context and capital of its students.

Activities foster peer-to-peer community building and support for learning. You will be in contact via email with seminar tutors and the module leader for tutorials, references and feedback, which will enable reflective learning through formative and summative written feedback, comments and advice. You will reflect on your progress and receive help to identify opportunities for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes and make recommendations to yourself for future development.

The topics covered during the module will support you with career development planning and assist in developing your abilities to understand the professional environment of the discipline of architecture, the various opportunities available to you and how to shape your learning according to your ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On satisfactory completion of Advocacy: Practice Beyond Aesthetics, a number of Learning Outcomes (LOs) will have been addressed. Each is related to the Architecture RIBA 2 – MArch Course Learning Outcomes (CLO). You will:

1. identify different modes of advocacy and decode implicit and explicit value systems (CLO 11(a) 1, 2, 3, 4);
2. evidence cognitive intellectual abilities to construct or reconstruct the processes involved in procuring a building and analyse the values they advocate or support (CLO 11(b) 4);
3. demonstrate the knowledge and understanding of theories of urban design and the planning of communities, the influence of the design and development of cities, past and present on the contemporary built environment and produce a cogent document of professional interest (CLO 11(b) 4; 11(c) 1, 4, 5);
4. demonstrate through a transferable set of skills overall competence towards professionalism, integrity, ethical practice and the architect’s obligations to society (CLO 11(d) 1, 2, 3, 4).

Assessment strategy

Assessment items will be based on:
• one hour written/diagram test (Component 1, 30%) demonstrating knowledge of professional codes and the law as it relates to architects.
• a professional practice essay (Component 2), 70%, an essay of 2,500 words (or equivalent numeric and technical data) addressing the module’s learning outcomes through the tasks and criteria as set out in the assessment brief. These will be detailed at the start of each academic year.

The rationale for the development and use of these assessment items is as follows:
• Component 1: an hour-long test is designed to ensure that you understand the processes of best professional practice in relation to legal and regulatory requirements of an architectural project and in employment law.
• Component 2: an essay of 2,500 words offers an opportunity to interrogate the professional codes and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) plan of work, exploring the role of the architect in contemporary practice in relation to political, environmental, economic and social changes, considering developments within the construction industry, taking account of relevant urban theories and design approaches and with evidence of an evolving understanding of the professional and legal obligations of the architect; demonstrate and be assessed upon their knowledge and understanding of the different modes of advocacy, value systems and theories.

The pass mark for the module is to be calculated as an aggregate of the components weighted accordingly, with the proviso that the candidate must attempt all components.