module specification

AR7043 - Advanced Digital Design Techniques (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Advanced Digital Design Techniques
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
Seminar 20% 50 Seminar Presentations
Coursework 30% 50 Technique Research Document Text
Coursework 50% 50 Technique Research Experiments & Development Documentation
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Tuesday Evening

Module summary

Techniques (analogue and digital) in architectural design, representation and production continually and rapidly evolve.  The module does set a specific set of software tools.  This module will present a variety of digital techniques relevant to a wide range of design agendas. It will also discuss the potential relationship of these techniques within their applicability to architectural design.  The student will be asked not only to master their techniques but to demonstrate a critical understanding of the context of their research and its value as a resource within their own work in related design modules.
The module will introduce students to a range of digital techniques.  The module aims to challenge students to develop a competent technical ability within their specialised technique research.  This specialisation should be developed either from one of the introductory workshops, their initial research, or a technique introduced/needed within their design modules.
Specific module aims are:
•  to prepare students with a technical and theoretical knowledge of the advanced digital design environment defined through generative, iterative, formative and communicative techniques;
•  to prepare students with the knowledge of specialised skills which aim to challenge and enhance their current design vocabularies/techniques; supplying students with the knowledge of techniques and the critical assessments needed to appropriately invent, adapt and develop design techniques for use within their design modules;
•  to demonstrate and teach advanced techniques in digital design, modelling, imaging, drawing and production;
•  to research and demonstrate advanced digital design techniques including:  scripting, parametric modelling, generative animations, systemic organisations, advanced geometric modelling, computational simulations and computer aided manufactured prototyping;
•  to equip students with an understanding and ability to use contemporary/ emergent design principles and digital design techniques and how these effect/evolve contemporary architecture, spatiality, materiality and organisational theories;  the module discusses and considers these techniques/ theories within a wider theoretical and architectural context.


Advanced Digital Design Techniques offers the opportunity for students to research and developed highly specialised digital design techniques in relation to design applications.  The development of these specialised techniques is partially self-directed and partially supported by the workshops and visiting consultants. The main technique-based research/ development project should not only advance one’s ability to use scripting, parametric modelling, generative animations, systemic organisations, advanced geometric modelling and/ or simulations but should also situate ones research within the context of design applicability.  The content of the submission will be the primary digital files, executable code and/ or digital model that is associated with the individual research technique.  In accompaniment to these primary files it is important that each student/ project also clearly document the process of development, execution and related contexts of their research.  Standard formats will be discussed and agreed at the beginning of the module.  Because of the diversity or approaches and specificity of research, students are encouraged to discuss with their tutor, the most effective format for the project. LO1,LO2,LO,LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module meets weekly and session timetables are made available at the beginning of the module.  Specialists within the computer, design, animation, programming and architecture fields visit specific sessions.

• Workshops and demonstrations are held in an appropriate computer environment with students working and taking notes in groups throughout.  Questions are taken, at intervals throughout the demonstrations.
• Lectures disseminate information through the speaker, through slides and via handouts.  Students are recommended to take notes and questions are taken after.
• Seminars and discussions have relevant readings with topics or techniques assigned before the session.  Students are expected to participate and may be called on to lead parts of the sessions.
• Tutorials will be held in small groups with students discussing individual and related student work, research and progress on their final submission.
• Student presentations (within the seminars) allow for the sharing of student work.  Students disseminate information through speaking, slides and handouts.  All material is to be prepared ahead of time in a professional manner.

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. 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 seminars and tutorial support provided at key points in the calendar. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment tasks and formative feedback. Students are encouraged to reflect on their progress and engage in sequential decision making through staged submissions and worksheets, 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 aspirations.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the module a student should have an advanced working knowledge and ability to use current digital design tools understanding the use of these techniques within design-research explorations.  Specific learning outcomes are:

1. knowledge of the digital technologies used in the contemporary practice of design in architecture, particularly in reference to the design process but also including aspects of communication, collaborations, documentation and manufacturing;
2. understanding of the design relevance and applicability of investigated techniques and how these impact the design processes of space, organisation and materiality;
3. ability to critically discuss theoretical and systemic understanding of the use of digital design tools in relation to architectural design, illustrating specific examples from their own design-research;
4. ability to autonomously use, customise and create/program advanced digital design techniques specialising in one of the following:  scripting, parametric modelling, generative animations, systemic organisations, advanced geometric modelling, and computational simulations.

Assessment strategy

Assessment reflects a module structure that combines computer workshops, demonstrations, lectures, seminars, discussions, student presentations and tutorials.  The relative proportions are:
1. seminars & student presentations (20%, mapped to Practical Exam);
2. lectures & tutorials (30% mapped to Coursework 1);
3. workshops (50% mapped to Coursework 2).
Proportions are indicative.


Because of rapid evolutions within the digital environment bibliographies are revised annually and disseminated with other module materials at the beginning of the semester. Sample readings include:
McNeel, Robert (2005) Rhinoceros Nurbs Modelling for Windows (Robert McNeel & Assoc.)
Leach, Neil (2002) Designing for a Digital World (Wiley)
Callicott, Nick (2001) Computer-Aided Manufacture in Architecture (Architectural Press) (Wiley)
Rahim, Ali  (2002) “Contemporary Techniques in Architecture”, Architectural Design, Vol 72: issue 1, (Wiley)
Rahim, Ali (2000) “Contemporary Processes in Architecture”, Architectural Design, (Wiley)

On-line resources: