module specification

AR7063 - Design Level 6: Subject, Context and Communication (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Design Level 6: Subject, Context and Communication
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
90 hours Guided independent study
110 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 20%   Design Portfolio presentation
Coursework 80%   Portfolio to be submitted at end of second semester
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module asks the student within an individual design unit to engage with the wider context and establishment of a rationale for a design proposition; whilst also developing their design visualisation and communication skills

Module aims

In this module the student will engage with the rationale for design proposition and will define, test and justify how a proposal is appropriate and relevant in a particular physical, social, economic and environmental context. The student will also develop their capabilities as designers using contemporary tools for the creative and effective visualization, graphic analysis and presentation of architectural proposals.

The single module runs throughout the Year 1 (Level 6) design unit programme (across semesters A and B). It runs in parallel to the other design module - Design: Process and Proposal - which examines how a designed proposition can be realised effectively through spatial, material, formal and organisational adjustments and transformations. The aim is to become increasingly familiar and confident in seeking out and finding an appropriate way of acting as an architect within a given context or situation; one which is complex, multi-layered and unpredictable. This means that the emphasis will be placed on achieving a detailed, precise and sophisticated understanding of the constituent parts of a particular context: its economic, social, ethical, political, environmental and emotional infrastructures. The means of achieving this understanding will be through a direct engagement with the context or situation, as well as the development of appropriate and effective visualisation and graphic analytical and communication techniques. This will involve developing ambitious ways of engaging with the situation as found. Visual, physical, organisational, covert, emotional and material forms of engagement will help generate the raw material for analysis and action.

The directness and precision of this understanding will allow the student to generate a range of issues, or places to act within that situation, such that there is a genuine value and relevance to the designed scenarios that develop. They will be asked to justify and be self-critical about their various methods of working in order to test the 'design' and communication process that they have developed. This advanced level design module rehearses the student's ability to construct an ambitious, sophisticated and appropriate brief, programme and conceptual rationale for their design proposition. In this sense the scope, scale and remit of the proposition will be a direct result of your methods of engagement, research and visualization, and will therefore be particular to each individual student's work.

The aim of the module is to prepare the student for the final year comprehensive design project by promoting a self-conscious and clearly articulated understanding of how ideas and agendas developed within this module can be consolidated within the thesis project in the following year.


The student will study this module through two of the MARCH design units, one per semester. Each design unit will state an overall agenda/interest/context within the built environment and also a project or related set of projects. These vary from year to year. The outline programme for the design unit is presented at the start of the first semester by the different design units and students may select which design unit and programme they wish to work with.

The programme set by the design unit in the autumn semester is given a formative assessment at the end of the semester. An interim portfolio review, chaired by the MARCH Dean, is used to inform students of their progress, providing formative feedback and grades at this midway stage. Following the second design project in the Spring semester, students are summatively assessed on both their design projects for the year, through final portfolio review.

Learning and teaching

The student will learn through the following range of events:
• discussions and seminars in studio on a range of methods of engagement with existing found situations, people and environments, where one is proposing alterations to take place.
• introductory talks, discussions and workshops on a range of different design processes that can be initiated from the engagement above.
• individual and group work developing a process of design using an appropriate range of media and techniques
• individual and group critical evaluations on the methods of engagement and design process and the effectiveness and value of the process, to the society and environment they seek to serve.
• individual development of an illustrative portfolio that fully documents the rationale of intentions and the design process
-Individual technician-supported workshop use including digital media, photography, video, 3D prototyping, physical model-making, painting and drawing, and print-making.

Learning outcomes

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

1. develop and evaluate appropriate and relevant method(s) of engagement and observation of a given situation
2. develop systems of analysing, interpreting, using and spatialising researched material in order to speculate on possible designed scenarios that intervene in and adapt that given situation
3. demonstrate their knowledge and use of contemporary tools for visualization and presentation of architecture
4. construct effective processes that can be used to rigorously test ideas in terms of their relevance to the given situation
5. formulate and communicate clear and well founded conceptual frameworks that underpin designed scenarios;
6. critically reflect on the implications of intentional and unintentional outcomes embedded in a designed scenario
7. communicate effectively the ideas and intentions of the designed scenario through an appropriate range of conceptual and representational techniques.
8. Demonstrate experimentation with, and effective use of, a variety of appropriate representation and communciation techniques
9. Develop a personal attitude toward the process of design and an agenda (independent of the design unit) which can be clearly expressed as a set of aims and ambitions for the final design project in Year 2.

Assessment strategy

The student will be assessed on their well-developed and appropriately represented recordings of analytical, investigative, and communicative work which demonstrate an understanding of, and engagement with, subject and context.

The programme set by the design unit in the autumn semester is given a formative assessment at the end of the semester. An interim portfolio review, chaired by the MARCH Dean, is used to inform students of their progress, providing formative feedback and grades at this midway stage. Following the second design project in the Spring semester, students are summatively assessed on both their design projects for the year, through final portfolio review.

This is submitted at the end of Semester B, together with the complete architectural or urban design proposal in support of Design Level 4 (Year 1): Process and Proposal. The architectural proposal represented must show a clear relationship with the raw material and understanding derived from Subject, Context and Communication.

The overall outcome of both modules should consist of a three-dimensional and spatial design proposal, which is equivalent in scope, and complexity to a small/medium sized building or small urban design project. For this module you will need to make explicit the following:
• How you have developed an appropriate subject for investigation
• How you have used effective analytical and visualisation techniques to develop and rigorously test new designed scenarios in response
• How you have creatively and effectively communicated your design proposal
      How you have integrated your understanding of, and practice in, a range of repesentation and communication techniques, into your design work in an appropriate way 
The student will be summatively assessed as follows:

1. On presentation of a Portfolio which will demonstrate the learning outcomes above through appropriate forms of documentation and representations. 
Modes of documentation may include: drawings; photographic material; multi-media material; quantitative data; qualitative data; 3D models or prototypes; web-based material, written commentary.  All 3D and multi-media work should be recorded in graphic form and explained to a standard suitable for assessment purposes.


To be provided by the unit tutor and is specific to the design project briefs and the particular concerns being investigated