module specification

CP4012 - Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Architecture) (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Architecture)
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
228 hours Guided independent study
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50% 40 Case study (1500-2000 words) with visual material
Coursework 50% 40 Essay (2000-2500 words) and visual material, + Learning Reflection (500 words) total
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

In Critical and Contextual Studies 1 you will engage, critically, with the history and theory of your discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice.

You will be guided towards critical reflections on what you see, and you will practice reading connections between different ideas that have shaped the architectural discipline and profession. You will investigate how thinking and articulating ideas about practice in your field can be framed – for example, in relation to history, the economy, society and the environment, or through theory and practice.

You will be introduced to a range of academic skills needed to produce a graduate-level thesis study in your final year. You will be encouraged to develop your own interests, and to reflect on, and take responsibility for, the development of your own learning. This includes surveys in the history and practice of your discipline, research and writing workshops, seminars, library sessions, in addition to guided independent learning.

The aims of the module are to teach skills pertaining to Ethical and Professional Practice; History, Theories and Methodologies (‘themes and values’ from Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA): The Way Ahead 2021), appropriate to Level 6. The module also aims to provide a practical framework through which you can address the academic discipline of architecture as outlined in the RIBA document ‘The Way Ahead, Education Themes and Values’ 2021 as well as ‘Guidance Notes to Institutions’ issued by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in 2021.


Critical and Contextual Studies 1 is structured in two equally-weighted semester sessions: Histories and Theories 1 and Professional Practice 1. Each of these culminates in a summative assessment, which is gradually built through the semester through smaller tasks. The syllabus and assessments are designed to support the development of academic skills, including inductions to using libraries and archives, critical reading skills, visual literacy, presentation skills, writing skills, working with feedback, avoiding plagiarism, referencing, as well as note taking, planning and time management skills. The following themes and activities are indicative.

In Histories and Theories 1 the lectures and seminars will introduce you to the history of architecture and urban form, from antiquity to the 19th century. Canonical examples are compared with works of art of the same period and set in their social and political context. Students are provided with opportunities to critically interrogate the canon and to contextualise and compare Western and non-Western traditions. Seminars use Critical Theory to interrogate ideas such as the authorship and sources of histories, as well as to introduce discussions around important ideas such as the natural environment, representation, language, form, politics, technology, in plain English. You are encouraged to express your ideas clearly and simply (LO 1 - 6).

This Professional Practice 1 component will introduce you to the subject and practice of architecture and the professional context within which they sit in society and the constructed environment.  Lectures, seminars, workshops and visits will enable you to explore issues of professionalism and to study current and past forms of architectural and design practice.  Working in groups and individually you will investigate a range of study and management skills and methods used to communicate within the industry and to its range of users and intended audiences (LO 1 - 6).

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. You will be expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with your 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 and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Weblearn to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate workshop and/or tutorial support for you. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask you to reflect on your progress, seek help where you identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to yourself for future development. Throughout the module, you will build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The AAD School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum will supports your personal development planning. Through these initiatives, you will increasingly be able, as you progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of architecture, the various opportunities available to you, and how to shape your learning according to your ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On satisfactory completion of Critical and Contextual Studies 1, a number of Learning Outcomes (LOs) will have been addressed.

You will:

1. Use information retrieval systems effectively and develop appropriate methods for collecting, organising and deploying knowledge;

2. Analyse and interpret different kinds of written texts and other key sources of documented knowledge, such as recorded sound or images, objects and artefacts;

3. Demonstrate familiarity with the scope of your discipline and its and broader ethical, historical, social, cultural, economic and practice-based contexts;

4. Articulate a critical understanding of the objects of your study, using a range of written forms of presentation, noting specific terms, languages, references, genres and audiences;

5. Be aware of the relationship between the theories and practices of your discipline in its creative application;

6. Effectively respond to and reflect upon feedback on your own work in order to develop and improve your learning.