module specification

AR5001 - Design Skills 2.1 (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Design Skills 2.1
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio - A portfolio of student-produced work addressing the tasks and criteria as set in the assessment brief
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Friday Afternoon
Year City Friday Morning
Year City Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module focuses on expanding and strengthening the range of skills, techniques, methods and processes needed to develop the design projects undertaken in Design Project 2.2. The skills are developed, within the projects, rather than separately. The module provides the material basis for design research, the design process and the development and testing of design propositions. The range of skills explores, analyses and interprets the precedents, observations and ideas that apply to architectural designs, their formulation and construction. Students learn to select the most appropriate modeling techniques for exploring specific aesthetic and technical requirements from digital and analogue techniques.

In particular the module introduces and practices digital drawing and modeling techniques. These include formal introductions to digital modeling and representation to allow the acquisition of technical skills and competence both in the CAD suite and fabrication workshops.

The module aims to provide a forum for the student to develop a creative, inventive and productive design process. It expands and strengthens the student’s range of material and digital design techniques, and develops their confidence, competence and fluency in making use of these techniques in design projects. The module supports experiment, trial and error and focuses on selecting, understanding and using the best practical techniques available to help realize conceptual and creative ideas in the production and testing of design solutions. It aims to deepen the student’s understanding and knowledge of modes of representation and their application in the broader field of design, including art practice, as well as the practices, protocols and conventions that apply to the field of architecture.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of previous level.


Students study within a design Studio that directs the design process, provides the project framework and a supportive working environment.  Within this context students are expected to work with some independence in developing their design processes and their application to the projects.  This includes identifying and researching project issues and parameters, generating detailed briefs, exploring and testing their ideas, developing proposals and prototypes, and employing the required bodies of knowledge. Work includes the analysis of context, the development of conceptual ideas into propositional designs, the study of material, programmatic and spatial strategies.  The syllabus includes digital workshops that introduce a range of 2D and 3D software programmes.

The detailed syllabus is project based and varies from year to year. The following programme is indicative.

Autumn term  LO: 1,2,3,4
Project 1: Develop and test techniques; optional field trip study; ‘Interim Project Review’ (crit). ‘Interim Portfolio Review’(internally assessed)  
Spring term  LO: 1,2,3,4
Project 2: test, reflect & apply techniques; ‘Final Project Review’ (crit).
Summer term  LO: 1,2,3,4,5
Complete Project: Communicate design processes through a range of 2D and 3D media; ‘Final Portfolio Review’(internal & externally assessed)

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 to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Material specific to each studio is visible on weblearn, with ‘turn it in’ facilitating the submission of a progressive reflective summary which is uploaded at both formative and summative stages so you may receive the studio tutors written feedback.

Learning outcomes

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

1. demonstrate practical and theoretical skill, knowledge and understanding in the uses of a wide range of 2D and 3D digital and analogue drawing and modeling techniques;

2. read, use and apply with accuracy the appropriate tools, conventions and protocols needed to develop a complete design process, from inception to resolution;

3. draw on a range of appropriate precedents and exemplars, compare different approaches and make informed choices in order to generate, test and realize ideas, propositions, projects;

4. work, record and reflect on the development of an explicit design process;

5. make effective use of a range of 2D and 3D digital and analogue drawing and modeling; techniques in the generation, production, presentation and communication of design projects.

Assessment strategy

2D and 3D analogue and CAD representations are reviewed at ‘Interim Portfolio Review’ and the portfolio as a whole is assessed at the ‘Final Portfolio Review’.

(1) 2D and 3D analogue representations of precedent or proposition which demonstrate and understanding of scale and materiality. (LO 1,2,3,4)

(2) 2D and 3D CAD drawings of a precedent or proposition which demonstrate accuracy and conversancy with scale and architectural conventions. (LO 1,2,3,4)

(3) Demonstration of the iterative and reflective process using different forms of representation, scale, material in the spatial development develop of a project. It should demonstrate the diverse range of investigations and considerations undertaken in relation to your design work and reflect on decisions made in relation to the brief set by the studio. (LO 1,2,3,4,5)

Project work is examined at the end of each project on dates published in individual project timetables. Indicative grades may be issued during the programme. The final assessment of work is carried out in portfolio. The Portfolio must be appropriately ordered, edited and presented to demonstrate the learning process, acquisition of skills and design proposals made. All three dimensional or dynamic work must be graphically presented, through photographs or other records. Work must be titled and accompanied by short explanatory notes.

The module is assessed as a whole in portfolio at the end of the academic year. 
The practical work the module covers is key in supporting the studio-based design work, however, most of the skills, knowledge and understanding gained is also generic to architectural design practice and/or transferrable.

The portfolio will normally include the range of drawings and models indicated in the module learning outcomes and in the forms required by the specific studio project briefs. The work will be evaluated in terms of range, depth, invention, creativity and originality as well as standards of accuracy and skills of execution. Although there are no independently assessed, stand-alone exercises, evidence in the portfolio is required of key stages in the development of the work, both material and conceptual, demonstrating an effective learning process.

Written formative feedback is given through weblearn following the Interim Portfolio Review and Interim Project Review (Interim crit).
Written summative feedback is given through weblearn following the ’Final Portfolio Review.

Overall performance is indicated in the feedback and indicative rubric score on ‘Turn it in’ at Interim stages and given as a final grade at Final Portfolio Review’

Students are expected to attend all taught sessions. Attendance will be reviewed as part of the assessment process and a ‘mark’ of either satisfactory or non-satisfactory will be awarded. Satisfactory attendance means that a student has attended over 60% of taught sessions.


The specific bibliography is studio and project related and may vary from year to year. The following titles are indicative. In addition, software manuals and websites will be advised in the workshops to ensure currency.

The following list is indicative.

Core Text:

Corner, J., and MacLean, A. S., (2000) Taking Measures across the American Landscape, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press
Imai, K., (2005) Pet architecture guide book, Nakano: World Photo Press
Jacobs, F., (2009) Strange Maps : An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities, New York: Viking Studio
Mostafavi, M., and Leatherbarrow, D., (2001) On Weathering : The Life of Buildings in Time, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press
Tufte, E. R., (2017) Envisioning Information, Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press
Ware, C., (2012) Building Stories, New York: Pantheon Books
Weinstein, R., and Cook, P. (1994) Morphosis : Buildings and Projects, 1989-1992, New York: Rizzoli
Otte, B. and Karssen, A., (2014) Model Making Conceive, Create and Convince, Amsterdam: Frame Publishers

Other texts: 

Anderson, S., (2012). Eladio Dieste : Innovation in Structural Art, New York: Princeton Architectural Press
Egashira, S. and Johnston, P. (ed.), (2006) Before Object, after Image : Koshirakura Landscape 1996-2006,.
Dal Co, F. and Mazzariol, G. (eds), (1985) Carlo Scarpa: The Complete Works. Milano: Electa
Unglaub, K. and Spellman, C., (2005) Peter Smithson : Conversations with Students : A Space for Our Generation, New York: Princeton Architectural Press


“ArchDaily.,” 2008.
“DIVISARE.” DIVISARE (blog), n.d.
Fairs, Marcus. “Dezeen,” 2006.
“Http://” Http:// (blog), n.d.
“Http://” Http:// (blog), n.d.
“” (blog), n.d.
“” (blog), n.d.