module specification

AR7051 - Writing About Architecture (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Writing About Architecture
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
Coursework 75%   4000 word essay
Practical Examination 25% 50 Seminar presentation
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

This module reviews the main ways of writing about architecture, using a wide range of texts by outstanding practitioners to exemplify each type. Students will practice the various modes themselves.

The module will provide a comprehensive view of the opportunities facing a writer about architecture, defining the main ways of writing about the subject and exemplifying them in carefully chosen texts by a variety of outstanding writers.  The module will encourage students to experience the writing first hand, involving them in a structured series of practical experiments in the various modes of writing.


This module takes both a theoretical and practical view of its subject, asking the most difficult and searching questions about what writing is and is not capable of, and applying the answers in practice every week.  The module begins with wide-ranging sessions on what works and what does not work for a writer. Then it moves on to more architectural topics, setting a new challenge each week. Students will see each of these exemplified in texts by experienced writers, some of whom are listed in the bibliography. Then they will try each form of writing themselves. LO1,LO2,LO3

These might include evoking a place, reviewing a building and analysing how it works both spatially and technically, making links between architecture and ideas, writing about structures from a remote culture, writing about a particular designer, writing about a historical period, ‘architecture and…’ exploring the connection between architecture and art, science, technology or another human activity. All of these experiments will be firmly grounded in built reality and particular cases. The module will draw constantly on its convenor’s experience in every phase of writing about architecture, from conception to publication and from short reviews to books of ambitious scope. LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.
The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student should be able to:

1. show fluency in their knowledge and understanding of architectural writers;
2. analyse what is involved in a writing project;
3. demonstrate skill and confidence in writing effectively in a variety of modes for a range of different audiences.

Assessment strategy

The assessment will be based on a compilation of the weekly writing assignments, together with a short preface and conclusion that supply an overview of the experiment. This composite piece of work is intended to be equivalent in scope and scale to the standard essay of 4000 words; it will count for 75% of the mark. The class presentation will make up the remaining 25%. 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 pass Component 1 (the essay).


Carson, Anne, Decreations (London: Jonathan Cape, 2006)
Scott Brown, Denise, Having Words (London: AA Publications, 2009)
Joyce, James, Ulysses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)
Perec, Georges, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, trans. John Sturrock (London: Penguin, 2008)
Merleau Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception (London: Routledge, 1962)
Geertz, Clifford, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic, 1973)
Rendell, Jane, Site Writing (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006)
Benjamin, Walter, The Arcades Project (London: Harvard University Press, 1999)
Scheerbart, Paul, Glass Architecture (1914)
Barthes, Roland, Empire of Signs (New York: Hill & Wang, 1982)
Rossi, Aldo, A Scientific Autobiography (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Oppositions Books, 1981)
Shapton, Leanne, Waterloo-City: City-Waterloo (London: Penguin, 2012)
Quenneau, Raymond, Exercises in Style, trans. Barbara Wright (New York: New Directions)
Augé, Marc, In the metro trans. Tom Conley (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002)
Banham, Reyner, Collected Writing (Centennial, 1999)