module specification

AR7P25 - Design Thesis Project: Resolution (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Design Thesis Project: Resolution
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 400
319 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Dissertation 100%   Portfolio
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday All day
Year City Thursday All day

Module summary

This module develops from the context established within the specialisation and proposition, running in parallel to develop and bring resolution and "closure" to the thesis design project. The 40-credit module represents the final stage and a test of a student’s academic performance in design, completing five years of full-time architectural education (or its equivalent part-time). It is, therefore, a summative stage of academic development – but at the same time a formative one in professional qualification. 

The module rehearses the ability of students to deliver a coherent architectural design that integrates theory and practice with the aim of launching them on the last stage of professional training; to become architects capable of designing the structure of their practice as well as the structure of their buildings. The module demands that they should be clear about their proposed role as an architect in framing and realising their major design project.

The module is also practical in its demand for performance. The student should be able to demonstrate a command of the knowledge as well as the conceptual, professional and technical skills that they have learnt and honed in a highly resolved architectural design that should offer an integrated solution to a clearly defined set of issues.

The emphasis of the module is on the detailed resolution and critical assessment of a complex architectural design. This process is supported by the M-level Integrated Design Study module, (completed in parallel for full-time students; the following year for part-time students) which requires specific and highly detailed evidence demonstrating the integration of cultural, professional, technical and environmental considerations into the design thesis project.

Prior learning requirements

AR7021: Design Level 4: Subject and Context and, AR7030: Design Level 4: Subject and Context (pre-requisite);
AR7P25 Design Thesis Project: Specialisation and Proposition (co-requisite)


Students will study this module through one of the MArch design units. Each design unit will state an overall agenda/interest within the built environment and also a project or related set of projects.  These vary from year to year. The outline programme for each design unit is presented in turn at the beginning of the Autumn term (Semester 1) at which time students will have an opportunity to rank their choice of design unit and programme they wish to work with.

Students enrolled on this module will continue to study within a design unit but will be expected to work with a high level of independence in developing their final architectural design – i.e. the design thesis project. The detailed syllabus will therefore be generated primarily by the student within the overall context and with the support of a design unit.  The outcome for the module will focus on the design of a complex building. However, the final project may be weighted towards a strategic scale (as found in urban design) or a more detailed scale (as appropriate to a technologically-focused design). It is the responsibility of the student to demonstrate an equivalence in output between their project and the requirement to undertake a complex architectural design as part of a strategic understanding of their role as architects. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4,LO5,LO6,LO7

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 have the opportunity to study outside of scheduled classes – particularly in the working environment of the design studio. A range of learning strategies are deployed and individual learning styles accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, are regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive pedagogical approach.
The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning. Peer-to-peer communication is fostered in group activities and tutorial support provided regularly. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment tasks and formative feedback, particularly in the traditional context of the design critique or ‘crit’. Students are encouraged to reflect on their progress and engage in sequential decision making through staged submissions, and to make recommendations to themselves for future development.
The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able – as they progress – to understand the professional environment of their discipline, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions and aspiration.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. propose a role for the practice of architecture within a specific and well described political, economic, social and professional framework;
2. advocate a coherent architectural design that respond convincingly to complex cultural conditions;
3. construct a coherent architectural design that is explicit about how it may be realised technically, politically, economically;
4. integrate an advanced knowledge understanding and ability of design, environment and sustainability, construction, materials and structures, cultural context and management , practice and law into a well resolved coherent architectural design;
5. understand the influence of budget on the design process;
6. propose a coherent architectural design that navigates a route through ethical issues: environmental, cultural or economic;
7. present and communicate a complex architectural design efficiently.

Assessment strategy

Module assessment will be based on the presentation of a portfolio, which will demonstrate through appropriate modes of documentation and presentation:

• a well-devised and coherent architectural design;
• a well-resolved architectural design that integrates an advanced knowledge understanding and ability of design, environment and sustainability, construction, materials and structures, cultural context and management , practice and law into a well resolved coherent architectural design;
• evidence of professional awareness and care in the way the scheme responds to the political, economic, social and professional issues identified;
• a coherent relationship between the design and the proposed role of the architect in procuring the scheme;
• evidence of response to ethical considerations raised by the scheme;
• ability to make a coherent presentation of the design in portfolio and through oral presentations.
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.


Each design unit will provide its own bibliography to suit the unit themes and interests for the year in question. The following reading list is designed to address the generic aims of the module at the level appropriate to the course of study.

Fraser, M. (2013) Design Research in Architecture: An Overview (Ashgate)
McCarter, R. and J. Pallasmaa (2012) Understanding Architecture (Phaidon)
Moore, R. (2012) Why We Build (Picador)
Sharr, A. (ed) (2012) Reading Architecture & Culture: Researching Buildings, Spaces and Documents (Routledge)
Wilson, C. St. J. (1988) Architectural Reflections (Butterworth-Heinemann)

Online resources:
The RIBA website’s ‘Explore Architecture’ pages:

Journal of Architecture
Architecture & Culture
Architectural Research Quarterly