module specification

AR7023 - Advocacy: Practice Beyond Aesthetics (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
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
161 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Unseen Examination 30%   1-hour test.
Coursework 70%   4000-word essay thesis
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

This module looks at the practice of architecture as a complex form of advocacy, the different manifestations of which promote different values.  Students are encouraged to examine an existing form of practice (either traditional or non traditional) and the way real buildings and their ideas are procured and explore alternative forms of managing the process.  The module deals with implicit and explicit codes and different forms of argument and evidence.  The 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/contractual) economic and political constraints. There will be a short test of the students' knowledge of professional codes and legal issues with feedback prior to the final submission.

The module exercises the students’ capacity for professional judgement, in preparation for RIBA Parts 2 and 3, whilst retaining the critical freedom of the academic framework.  It provides a threshold for the development of social, political and commercial 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.


'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 a number of topic areas that are seen as critical interfaces within the profession. They will act as a guide to students selecting and developing their 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; LO1,LO2,LO3
• the ethics of architecture (professional codes and liability); LO1,LO2,LO3
• management practices (different forms); LO1,LO2,LO3
• legal practices (planning/agreements/contracts/employment); LO1,LO2,LO3
• financial practices (politics/economics); LO1,LO2,LO3
• regulatory practices (sustainability/energy/health and safety. LO1,LO2,LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The balance is approximately 1:4, where 80% of the time will be spent in independent study (ie research, interviews, developing writing/communication skills and revising for test).
Students are in contact via email with their seminar tutors and module leader for tutorial, references and feedback, which enable reflective learning as do the formative and summative written feedback comments and advice.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module the student should be able to:
1. identify different modes of advocacy and decode implicit and explicit value systems;
2. construct or reconstruct the processes involved in procuring a building and analyse the values they advocate or support;
3. demonstrate the knowledge 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.

Assessment strategy

The assessment will be based on two components: 
• the presentation of a 4000-word professional practice essay (or equivalent numeric and technical data) interrogating the professional codes and RIBA plan of work, exploring the role of the architect in contemporary practice in relation to political, economic and social changes, considering developments within the construction industry, taking account of relevant to urban theories and design approaches, and with evidence of an evolving understanding of the professional and legal obligations of the architect;
• the successful completion of a one-hour written/diagram test demonstrating knowledge of professional codes and the law as it relates to architects, designed to ensure students understand the processes of ‘best professional practice’ in relation to legal and regulatory requirements of an architectural project and in employment law.


Core Texts:
Ostime, N.  (2013) Architect’s Handbook of Practice Management (RIBA Publishing)
Spaight, A. and Stone, G. (2010) Architect’s Legal Handbook: The Law for Architects, (Architectural Press)
Other Texts:
Saint, A. (1983) The Image of the Architect, (Yale University Press)

RIBA Journal (RIBAJ)
Architects Journal (AJ)
Architectural Review (AR)
Architecture Today

Websites:,, practice websites
Electronic Databases: BD online