Applied Design in Architecture (ARB and RIBA part 2)


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Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 24 months

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Architecture

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How can we build a more sustainable future? What should urban regeneration look like? Can architects respond to humanitarian crises?

Our ARB and RIBA accredited MArchD will help you add a design specialisation to your portfolio that transforms your practice; and that has an impact on society.

The School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes has an international reputation for research and teaching. As a postgraduate student here, you’ll be guided by academics who’ve proved themselves at some of the country’s top practices.

You’ll be free to explore your design aspirations in an environment where intellectual discussion, innovation and practical experimentation are actively encouraged. With topics ranging from sustainable built environments to conflict management, the influences on your thinking and design will add lasting value to your work.

Over the 2 years you’ll generate a substantial portfolio of design work that meets the demands of ARB/RIBA part II and LAM. And your design specialisation will be a big plus to a range of associated professions as well as architecture practices.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Gain specialist skills

    Within a framework of core modules, you can tailor your course to match your career ambitions and design interests.

  • Leading lecturers

    You’ll be guided by tutors and lecturers who are experts in their field. They’ll help you build on your core skills and inspire you in whichever specialisation you choose.

  • High quality facilities

    Choose from a diverse range of design studios which allow you to experiment and explore your learnings and put your ideas into practice under the guidance of our tutors.

  • Forefront of research

    The course is supported by 5 research groups investigating new design theories, changes in societal demands, advances in technology, and new materials.

  • An environment for study

    Oxford has a rich student culture, and you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in study at the world-famous Bodleian, one of the oldest libraries in Europe.

  • Accreditation(s)

    Architects Registration Board, Royal Institute of British Architects, Malaysian board of Architects

    • Architects Registration Board
    • Royal Institute of British Architects
    • Malaysian board of Architects

Course details

Course structure

In your first year, you’ll build on your core skills in design, technology, history and theory. Modules will cover subjects such as Representation, Management Practice and Law, and Research Methods and Theory.

You’ll also have the opportunity to choose from one of several specialisations in areas of architectural design, such as Sustainable Design and Urban Design, in addition to your core modules. It means you’ll gain a suite of specialist skills that will help you build your portfolio for your future career.

In your second year, you’ll be working on a thesis design project in one of our 9 design studios. You’ll be able to practise and test all that you’ve learnt in your first year, under the guidance of industry professionals.

Previous thesis projects range from large scale social interventions which include housing and various facilities, to more speculative projects such as taking over entire valleys in Wales and designing major infrastructures within them.

Male student building a model

Learning and teaching

We use various teaching and learning methods such as:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials. 

You will select an individual pathway through the Applied Design in Architecture module. You can define your own position through choosing modules from within design specialisations. 

In your Year 2 design studio, you will participate in varied design specialisation thinking with students from your unit. You will be taught with direct entry master's students from around the world.

You'll achieve a high-standard final portfolio by building on:

  • skills
  • thinking
  • application
  • design production.

The end of year exhibition is a showcase for your work.


Work is assessed and marked as a percentage. You must pass all compulsory components of the course, without exception.

To begin the Design and Technology year you must pass all components of the Research into Design year. The pass mark for all modules is 50%. 

An internal cross-unit portfolio examination will determine your final design grades. This takes place at the end of the second semester in Year 2.

At the end of the course, you will take part in internal and external portfolio based examinations. In the final semester of the course, you will present your portfolio and display of work to an internal assessment panel. During an individual examination, this final assessment will be presented to an external examiner.

Field Trips

This varies depending upon specialisation choice and design studio choice.

Year one specialisation International Architectural Regeneration and Development runs a field trip to a European country. There are also two day trips.

In other specialisations there may be a field trip, but Advanced Architectural Design and Research-led Design do not run field trips.

See the Additional costs section of this page for details of costs. 

Study modules

Taught Modules

Compulsory modules

  • Research Methods for Design (20 credits)

    Choose one of the following design specialisations:

    • Advanced Architectural Design
    • International Architectural Regeneration and Development
    • Development and Emergency Practice
    • Sustainable Building: Performance and Design
    • Research-led Design
    • Urban Design.

    Each of the design specialisations include a design project or projects.

  • Representation (10 credits)

    This module will identify your strengths and build up your weaknesses, both in terms of visual and verbal communication methods. You will be able to dedicate time to fine-tuning techniques or building from basics in sketching, model making, 2D and 3D CAD. Your presentation of methods and actual practice will enable you to build confidence in verbal communication skills.

  • Management, Practice and Law 1 (10 credits)

    Through a series of workshops you will work on topics that are essential to the practice of architecture. Management, practice and law is part of the design delivery of the programme and you will be expected to approach the coursework from a design position. This module asks that you approach this subject with a very different mind-set than the traditional position.


  • Advanced Technology for Design (30 credits)

    This module designs through technology and fully complements and parallels your work in the design studio. There is a very strong emphasis here upon the creative possibilities for architectural technology. We ask for an open and experimental approach to technology, but also a clear understanding of its context and aims.

  • Advanced Architectural Design Representation and Realisation (50 credits)

  • Conflict, Violence and Humanitarianism (20 credits)

  • Working with Conflict: practical skills and strategies (10 credits)

  • Refugees: Forced Migration, Protection and Humanitarianism (20 credits)

  • Critical Inquiry Development and Emergencies: Theory and Policy (20 credits)

  • Shelter After Disaster (20 credits)

  • Disasters, Risk, Vulnerability and Climate Change (20 credits)

  • Human Rights and Governance (20 credits)

  • Humanitarian Action: responding to crises in 21 st Century (10 credits)

  • Building Physics (20 credits)

  • The Sustainable Built Environment (20 credits)

  • Building Simulation and Design in Context (40 credits)

  • Architecture, Culture and Tradition (20 credits)

  • Regeneration and Development Project (30 credits)

  • Applications in Regeneration (20 credits)

  • Master Classes (10 credits)

  • Urban Resilience (20 credits)

  • Research-led Design I (40 credits)

  • Research-led Design II (40 credits)

  • Design Studio I (30 credits)

  • Design Studio II (50 credits)

  • Advanced Technology for Design (30 credits)

  • Management, Practice and Law 2 (10 credits)

  • Exhibition

    The end of year exhibition is the culmination of each year’s academic programme. It is not only a showcase for your work, but is in itself an important opportunity for you to develop spatial and presentation skills in a very immediate and hands-on way. All students must play a full role in designing, organising, making and maintaining the exhibition. To this end the exhibition is an integral part of your design studio and design specialisation programme.

Optional modules

Programming and Partnerships (10 credits)

Urban Design Studio I (10 credits)

Urban Design Development Seminars (10 credits)

Contemporary Approaches to Urban Design (30 credits)

Urban Design in Challenging Contexts (30 credits)

Independent Study

Compulsory modules

  • Independent Study (10 credits)

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


Research specialisations linked to the five research clusters within the School of Architecture offer cutting edge teaching from subject area experts. 

The specialisations are: 

  • environmental design 
  • technology
  • development 
  • emergency practice
  • humanities 
  • architectural design. 


Our students are in high demand in the UK and internationally. Many go on to work in AJ100 companies, like Fosters, Zaha Hadid and Wilkinson Ayre. Some set up their own businesses, often pursuing careers that contribute to society and a more sustainable future.

The specialisations within the course prepare students for a rapidly changing industry where specialist skills are increasingly popular.

Some of our students have gone on to work in Film and Digital Design, while others have used their skills to work in disaster relief operations.

Careers include:

  • architectural and engineering practices
  • research or sustainability consultancies
  • development work
  • creative professions
  • academia.

Our Staff

Mr Toby Shew

I curate and manage eight postgraduate design studios for the RIBA part II course, ensuring a plurality of ideas an methodology in this professionally recognised course.

Read more about Toby

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

We advise applying in advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for applications to be reviewed.

There is no formal application deadline (recruitment closes when teaching capacity is reached). 

Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Student visa (if applicable).

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

International full time

Home (UK) full time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

International full time

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.