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MA Architecture – MArch

Course Overview

Recognised by the Architects Registration Board and The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for exemption from Part II examination, the course is stage two of your professional development programme to become an architect.

The programme goes beyond the professional body criteria, giving you a stimulating and dynamic educational experience of architecture at postgraduate level. You’ll study in a design studio-led research environment and you will be able to create architectural designs that meet necessary technical requirements while still having aesthetic appeal.

You\'ll be able to produce complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural issues. You\'ll also have sound knowledge of procurement, building production and legislation.

The course gives you a thorough understanding of the links between design and technology and how architects work with other construction professionals. You\'ll develop your specialist architectural skills and in-depth knowledge and be well on your way to becoming a qualified architect. You\'ll develop a range of transferable skills, such as how to communicate ideas and solve problems, as well as developing negotiation and planning skills. You’ll learn how to work effectively and efficiently either on your own or as part of a team.

A unique collaborative \'Teaching Practice\' programme means each cross-level studio unit is aligned with a leading professional practice in the region where you can visit on selected days for supporting tutorials. Participating practices include: Bryant Priest Newman, Broadway Malyan, Associated Architects and Glenn Howells Architects.

BCU’s Co.LAB is a collaborative architecture and design initiative based within the School that gives you the chance to work on live projects with the university’s partner organisations including schools and charities. Working on live projects and with architectural firms will have enabled you to increase your understanding, add to a portfolio of relevant work and make useful connections.

Key information

    Course name

    MA Architecture – MArch

    Total academic credits

    180 credits

    Qualification awarded


    Awarding body

    Birmingham City University

    Professional recognition

    Architects Registration Board (ARB); the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

    Academic level

    Postgraduate (QCF_NQF Level 7)

    Study mode

    Full time


    2 years

    Tuition fees

    £12,000 per year



    Work placement


    Course location


Academic entry requirements

Applicants will normally be expected to hold at least a second class honours degree or equivalent in architecture. In exceptional circumstances, applications from students without RIBA Part 1 will be considered subject to prior equivalent academic and practical experience, but the honours degree must be in architecture due to the prescribed and validated nature of the programme.

Evidence of satisfactory completion of at least nine months of practical training is normally required for acceptance on the full-time course. Should applicants have difficulty in accessing conventional practical experience, the admissions team will consider evidence of initiative in finding alternative experience, through voluntary work, competitions, work in associated fields of the construction and design industries and self-generated work.

A diverse portfolio demonstrating academic and professional experience along with a critical self-appraisal.

English entry requirements

Students for whom English is not the first language must satisfy the University requirement for IELTS currently at 6.5 overall, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in other components.

Progression route

Further academic study of MPhil and PhD degrees by research or professional career.

Career opportunities

Graduates of this course are able to embark upon careers as Architect, Architectural technologists, Interior and spatial designer, Building surveyor, Town planner, Residential surveyor, Landscape architect, Structural engineer and many more.


Stage 1

  • Critical Urbanism
  • Co. Lab II
  • Research and Theory


Stage 2

  • Architectural Synergies
  • Management Practice and Law: Theory


Stage 3

  • Architectural Speculations part 1
  • Architectural Speculations part 2
  • Architectural Speculations: Tectonics
  • Management Practice and Law: Applied
  • Dissertation or special study


Assessment methods
You'll be assessed through a mix of reviews, reports, exams and essays. You'll undertake a major dissertation or special study (to follow on from the Co.Lab live project or another opportunity) on a theme related to the course. The dissertation and special study themes are negotiated with your tutor.


Reasons for choosing this course

The MArch views the City as a laboratory, the studio is a research tool to develop and test possible iterations of sustainable urban futures, an exploratory bridge between theory and practice.

The MArch meets and exceeds the requirements set out in the latest ARB/RIBA Part 2 criteria and EU Directive on Architectural education.

The programme enables the development of an understanding of the theoretical, technical and professional issues informing contemporary architectural practice, focusing on the contemporary city, a laboratory for the exploration of possible forms of architectural production. The programme explores the limits of contemporary practice and engages in cross-disciplinary dialogue and practice.

The programme is driven by the School’s research agenda. Students identify their trajectory through the programme to develop individually focused projects within shared vehicles and fields of operation that engage with and are informed by the School’s leading edge research practice.

The intersection between the disciplinary aspects of architecture and professionalism underpin the programme. Through testing the definition of architectural production students develop professional skills that deepen and extend knowledge and understanding of areas of practice.

The aims of the programme are to:

  • Align with the School’s new manifesto and philosophy
  • acknowledge the new RIBA/ARB professional body criteria (incorporating the new EU Directives for Post Graduate Architecture courses) to ensure that graduates obtain RIBA Part 2 exemption in preparation for a professional career in Architecture
  • provide students with a curriculum which goes „beyond‟ the professional body criteria, providing a dynamic and stimulating learning experience within which individual career paths and ambitions can be addressed
  • create a learning environment that is both integrated and equitable for Full Time and Part Time students and one which recognises and pre-empts the possible disparities
  • Provide a number of projects that encourage deep learning and professional competency, commensurate with the professional status of being an Architect
  • Provide a flexible framework of modules which allow „one-off‟ / spontaneous opportunities such as design competitions or research projects to be properly accommodated into the programme to facilitate a student’s individual career path
  • Provide a framework for a more explicit link between the School‟s research activities and the MArch projects and dissertations
  • Continue strong links with professional practice to ensure graduate employability and to support the local architectural profession
  • Continue strong relationships between staff and students and the highest level of teaching and support to maintain the programme’s reputation for „added value‟


Main learning outcomes

  • ability to generate complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural issues, originality in the application of subject knowledge and, where appropriate, to test new hypotheses and speculations
  • ability to evaluate and apply a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media to test, analyse, critically appraise and explain design proposals
  • ability to evaluate materials, processes and techniques that apply to complex architectural designs and building construction, and to integrate these into practicable design proposals
  • critical understanding of how knowledge is advanced through research to produce clear, logically argued and original written work relating to architectural culture, theory and design
  • understanding of the context of the architect and the construction industry, including the architect’s role in the processes of procurement and building production, and under legislation
  • problem solving skills, professional judgement, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances
  • ability to identify individual learning needs and understand the personal responsibility required to prepare for qualification as an architect