module specification

CP5012 - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Architecture) (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Architecture)
Module level Intermediate (05)
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 (3000-3500 words) with supporting visual material
Running in 2024/25

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

Module summary

In Critical and Contextual Studies 2 you will critically engage in the history, theory and practice of the discipline of architecture, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice. You will build on the studies you undertook in Level 4 and develop into independent thinkers, capable of selecting an appropriate topic and producing a sustained piece of independent study in the form of a dissertation in Level 6.

Your thinking will be situated within the process of constructing knowledge about your discipline, its history, context, and its professional and ethical dimension. You will rehearse the analytical and discursive skills that are necessary to become knowledgeable about the subjects, bodies and methods in your field; to understand the roles, locations and responsibilities of important players whilst examining the broader ethical questions relevant to architecture; and to become conversant with current debates across the subject area. This process may be approached from the point of view of the producer or consumer, the critic or the professional, the academic or the practitioner.

You will be encouraged to think creatively and to take responsibility for the development of your own learning, and be an active contributor in the process: what you bring to the construction of knowledge counts – and how effectively you construct this knowledge depends on how well you understand the field of your discipline.

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.

Prior learning requirements

Pre-requisite: CP4012 or equivalent.


Critical and Contextual Studies 2, Architecture is structured in two semesters: in the first you tackle Professional Practice, in the second Histories and Theories. The module includes surveys in the modern and recent history of the discipline of architecture, research and writing workshops, seminars, and library sessions, in addition to guided independent learning. Each semester culminates in a summative assessment: a case study and an essay, respectively. 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. These skills will be developed through specifically designed sessions, strategically placed in the academic year, which will prepare you for the Level 6 Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation (CP6012). In these sessions, you will be guided into effectively constructing a topic, making use of suitable/appropriate resources, and developing a methodology (matching research methods to your content). The following themes and activities are indicative.

In the first semester, Professional Practice 2 will advance your understanding of an architect’s relationship to the construction industry and related professionals, specialists and experts. Through lectures and seminars and using case studies, you will explore the historical development of the building industry and examine ways of communication and cross referral of information. You will study forms of agreement, procurement routes and contractual situations, and you will become more familiar with management issues, both in organising the design and building process, and in the business of running a practice. Seminar discussions will encourage you to examine a broad range of possibilities and opportunities that can be found within current urban design, planning and regulatory conditions (LO 1 - 5).

In the second semester, Histories and Theories 2: Modern Architecture and Modernity, contemporary architecture and urban design are studied in detail from social, artistic, theoretical and practical viewpoints through lectures. The seminar series is based on discussion of a number of key contemporary texts and advanced theories about architecture, cities and citizenship are introduced. You will be encouraged to think beyond the individual building as a discrete object and to reflect on the wider context of the city. The course will introduce you to a range of architectural and non-architectural texts from allied disciplines and arts, with relevant perspectives on architecture, the city and society. These may include texts by geographers, philosophers, writers, historians and economists as well as architectural and urban theorists (LO 1 - 5).

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 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 2, a number of Learning Outcomes (LOs) will have been addressed.

You will:

1. Research and formulate a comparative knowledge of different aspects of your discipline, its specialisms and broader contexts; and to distinguish how your work relates to and arises from previous work in your discipline;

2. Deploy critical and analytical skills in oral and written discussions; and to develop, structure and communicate an argument or similarly rigorous and evidenced line of enquiry;

3. Produce cogent oral/visual and written presentations, using appropriate scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;

4. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical and professional responsibilities appropriate to your practice;

5. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the theories and practices of art, its creative application and architectural design.