module specification

CP5012A - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Architecture) (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Architecture)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 150
123 hours Guided independent study
27 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Written Assignment
Coursework 40%   Case Study
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Monday Morning

Module summary

Critical and Contextual Studies 2 continues to orient and critically engage students in the history and theory of their discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice. It builds on studies undertaken in Level 4 and prepares students as 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.

The module continues to situate the student within the process of constructing knowledge about their discipline, its history, context, and its professional and ethical dimension. It rehearses the analytical and discursive skills students need to become knowledgeable about the authorities, objects and methods in their field; to understand the roles, locations and responsibilities of important players whilst examining the broader ethical questions relevant to their discipline; 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.

Students are encouraged to think creatively and to take responsibility for the development of their own learning. The module recognises that the student is also an active contributor in the process: what students bring to the construction of knowledge counts – and how effectively they construct this knowledge depends on how well they understand the field of their discipline.

Prior learning requirements

7 Module pre-requisites and co-requisites Pre-requisite of equivalent of 120 L4 credits


Modern Architecture and Modernity LO 1-5

In the lectures, the work of contemporary architects and urban designers is studied in detail from social, artistic, theoretical and practical viewpoints. In the seminars advanced theories about architecture, cities and citizenship are introduced. The seminar series is based on student presentations and discussion of a number of key contemporary texts. Students are encouraged to think beyond the individual building as a discrete object and to reflect on the wider context of the city. The course introduces the student to a range of ‘non-architectural’ texts on the city that are nevertheless relevant to the debate on its design. These may include texts by geographers, philosophers, writers, historians and economists as well as architectural and urban theorists. 

Architecture in London - LO 1-6

Students (with guidance) will select a building that they can visit in London and research and analyse it in relation to its context, location and materiality. They will present their findings in a short case study demonstrating their awareness of the social, historical, political, economic, spatial or other context of the building.

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.

Learning outcomes

1. to research and formulate a comparative knowledge of different aspects of their discipline, its specialisms and broader contexts; and to distinguish how their work relates to and arises from previous work in their 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 their practice;
5. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the theories and practices of art, its creative application and architectural design.

Assessment strategy

Students receive formative tutorials before each submission, and feedback during the first session of the following block. This helps students to build and improve skills as the syllabus progresses

Assessments comprise:

1. written assignment/s relating to the theme/s of the module (2,000 – 2,500 words);
2. case study (1,000 – 1,500 words).

Overall module assessment criteria:

1. breadth and depth of knowledge of an aspect of the subject area;
2. clarity and coherence in presenting an argument or similarly rigorous line of enquiry;
3. deployment of critical and analytical skills in oral and written discussions;
4. cogency of oral/visual and written presentations, and appropriate use of scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;
5. understanding of critical context, ethical dimensions, and the broader construction and limits of knowledge.

Students must pass all three coursework components individually at 40% in order to be eligible for the BA (Hons) Architecture award.


Assessment briefs and teaching syllabi are designed to support the development of academic skills, including inductions to using libraries and archives, critical reading skills, presentation skills, writing skills, working with feedback, avoiding plagiarism and referencing, as well as note taking, planning and time management skills. The following themes and activities are indicative.

Modern Architecture and Modernity
• Frampton, K. (1980) Modern Architecture; A Critical History, London, Thames and Hudson
• Berman, M. (1988) All That is Solid Melts into Air: the Experience of Modernity, Harmondsworth: Penguin
• Colomina, B (1996) Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media, Cambridge: MIT Press

Professional Architecture: Duties, Constraints, Organisation
• Nigel O. (2013) The Handbook of Practice Management, London: RIBA Publications

Journals, Websites and Databases
• Websites:
• Electronic databases: Art full text, JSTOR
• RIBA Journal
• Architectural Review
• Architecture Today