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MArchD Applied Design in Architecture (ARB and RIBA part 2)


School of Architecture

Accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB). This course is also accredited by the Board of Architects Malaysia (LAM).

This programme is grounded on the belief that architects should be thinking well beyond the constraints of market forces and the traditional disciplinary limits of the profession, towards forms, technology and spaces for a more sustainable future. This is a student-led programme, and you can have very different experiences within it depending on the choices of studios and courses you make.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 2 years

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Founded in 1927, the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes has established an international reputation for the quality of both its research and its teaching.
  • As one of the largest architecture schools in the UK, with around 600 students and 70 staff, it plays a leading role in defining the national, and international, agenda in design education and research.
  • The school enjoys an international reputation in research, in areas ranging from sustainable design to modular buildings and from design for well-being to vernacular architecture.
  • Staff in the school regularly secure research funding from the UK's research councils and the European Union as well as industry, with an annual research grant income averaging £1m in recent years.
  • This programme provides RIBA/ARB Part 2.

Year 1 Research into design

This year has a very strong emphasis on acquiring in-depth knowledge of an architecturally important field of study and utilising that knowledge in design. This is achieved by taking one of the six 'design specialisations'. 


You choose which design specialisation is best for you. The specialisations on offer are deliberately highly diverse to cater for the changing nature of the profession in practice. 

This course produces graduates for the global market and as such requires a high level of commitment from staff and students.

The design specialisations are:

  • 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 research specialisations offers teaching from experts within that subject area, and links, through teaching focus and staff, to the five research clusters that are an invaluable resource within the School of architecture. 

The five research clusters keep the specialisations at the cutting edge in terms of a global agenda. They are, in general terms, environmental design, technology, development and emergency practice, humanities and architectural design.

Each of the design specialisations include a design project or projects, to which you will apply your detailed learning.

In addition to the design specialisation the first year will, through the Research Philosophy for Design module, widen your thinking in terms of what constitutes research, test your critical thinking and improved your analytical abilities. All of these are essential tools and their enhancement will place you in a stronger position to undertake the design studio in the second year.

Your ability to represent your ideas in a coherent and focused manner is the remit for the Representation module. 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.

The Management, Practice and Law module in year one looks at the landscapes within which these issues are being informed. This module is taught by practising architects who have first-hand experience of the issues under discussion. 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.

Due to the diverse and preparative basis of this year it is compulsory for all students to pass all compulsory components of the Research into Design year in order to be progress to the Design and Technology year.

Year 2 Design and technology

This year is structured to enable you to synthesise a broad range of complex cultural, aesthetic, research and technical factors, and design-specialisation learning, into your major design project and portfolio.

The year is spent participating in one of seven design studios. All studios have control over their own programme of projects, and each has a different view of architectural culture and promotes different design methods. The design studios are taught by some of the brightest designers and tutors in the country and consequently their programmes demand high levels of creative and intellectual endeavour from you, as well as high levels of productivity. Their aim is to raise your design thinking, skills and production to the highest possible standard.

All seven units present their projects for the year in the induction session and you are asked to select in order of preference. This system is to allow for an even distribution of students across all units. Most students are allocated to their first choice of studio although there is no guarantee of a particular design unit - normally at worst you are allocated your second choice.

During the design and technology year, your design work must develop into technically ambitious architecture and be the subject of your compulsory Advanced Technology for Design module. 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.

The staff delivering the teaching in the design studio unit and the Advanced Technology for Design module are made up from academics and practitioners. This energetic mix will challenge you to think about design and technology in a new manner, building confidence in ability, enabling deep thinking, and aiding you to define a personal design spirit.

Sitting alongside the design and technology is the second Management, Practice and Law module. This module builds on the learning and skills from the first year module and prepares you for stepping back into practice. As in the first year module this is learning is delivered by practicing architects. Through focus groups with architectural practices, this module figures in the skills that are seen as highly desirable for the ARB part 2 graduate to have when seeking employment.

Throughout the two years of the programme there will be interim reviews. This offers an opportunity to receive feedback from outside of your design studio or design specialisation. We have strong links with practice and architectural institutions and can attract the most able people to sit on our reviews.

This is a programme that aims to give you the skills for international practice.

As our courses are reviewed regularly, modules may vary from those listed here.

Teaching and learning

The unique nature of the Applied Design in Architecture offers you the opportunity to select an individual pathway that will create a distinctive graduate profile that is unique to you alone.

The ability to choose modules from within design specialisations offers you the prospect of defining your own position. You will find that you are being taught with, in most cases, direct entry master's students from countries around the world.

This aspect is complemented by the Year 2 design studio where you will engage with a distinctive agenda and experience a diversity of design specialisation thinking from students within your unit.

Self-directed learning is highly supported by staff in the School of Architecture. Personal choice engenders motivation and a high level of commitment, and the programme has been designed to embrace this aspect whilst clearly building on skills, thinking, application and design production to achieve a final portfolio of the highest standard.

On the technology aspect of the programme 'I think the Brookes technology course is really fantastic, and quite unique in how well integrated it is into the design units. I have had great feedback from students regarding the course - many of whom stated that previously they had been scared of technology, but they now embrace it and see it as a holistic part of their projects.' Madeleine Kessler,  Haptic Architects 

The 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.

The programme employs a wide range of teaching and learning methods; lectures, seminars, crits, tutorials, peer assisted learning, self-directed learning, site visits, office visits, field trips, and online learning.

Approach to assessment

All work is assessed and marked as a percentage. Students must pass all compulsory components of the programme without exception. The pass mark for all modules is 50%. Students must pass all components of the Research into Design year to be permitted to begin the Design and Technology year.

At the end of the second semester in Year 2 there will be an internal cross-unit portfolio examination to determine the final design grades for each student.

There will also be internal and external portfolio based examinations at the end of the programme for all students. The final assessment for the Applied Design in Architecture occurs in the final semester of the programme, at which point every student presents their portfolio and display of work to an internal assessment panel, and then to an external examiner in an individual examination.

Additional costs

Year One:


An emphasis on physical experimentation means that you may incur costs to purchase materials. Access to our workshops is free, but you need to source your own materials. Although it is possible to scavenge for materials or use naturally occurring resources, it is advisable to budget £100 for build materials for model making. This figure should be seen as a guide as the actual cost can vary depending upon your choice of specialisation, as some students on this programme choose to emphasise physical making more than others.

Printing and binding:

Although there is provision to show work digitally, the portfolio elements of the course generally do require high-quality printing, so you should budget £100-200 for this each year.

Field trips/visits:

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 that generally costs around £500 for flights and accommodation and you should budget a further £150 for daily living costs such as food and incidentals.

There are also two day trips that cost around £60 each

In Development and Emergency Practice. The field trip, including flights, accommodation and daily sustenance generally costs around £1200.

In other specialisations there may be a field trip that costs up to £1000 in total, but Advanced Architectural Design and Research-led Design do not run field trips, but you should still budget around £150 for visits.

Due to the diversity of offerings of the course you should contact the School for further information about trips and associated costs on the specialisation you are interested in taking – but full details will be given at the specialisation presentation where you choose your specialisation.

Videography/photography and digital:

Exploring and understanding the environment through video and photography is an important part of the programme – equipment is available to borrow for free from the School of Architecture. Although a home PC or laptop is often a requisite for an architectural course, the school provides well specified computers in its design studios equipped with all of the software you might need.

Year Two:


As per Year one, it is wise to budget £100 for build materials for model making. This figure should be seen as a guide as the actual cost can vary depending upon your choice of design studio.

Printing and binding:

Although there is provision to show work digitally, the portfolio elements of the course generally do require high-quality printing, you should budget £100-200 for this each year.

Field trips/visits:

The cost of the optional field trip varies depending on the design studio chosen – ranging from around £300 for flights and accommodation to around £1000 for flights and accommodation. Our design studios offer a wide range of destinations and activities on field trips that are explained before studio selection takes place. You should also budget around £150 for food and drink during the field trip.

During your year in design studio there will be day trips and visits. You should budget around £100 for these over the course of the year.

Videography/photography and digital:

As per Year one, equipment is available to borrow for free from the School of Architecture. Although a home PC or laptop is often a requisite for an architectural course, the School provides well specified computers in its design studios equipped with all of the software you might need.

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.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £9,250 2020/21 £9,250

International - full time: 2019/20: £13,410 2020/21 £14,120

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

Admission to the programme will normally be open to applicants who fulfil either of the following requirements:

  • Hold a 2.2+ undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent), in Architecture / disicpline highly relevant to Architecture.
  • Possess an appropriate professional background and experience of designing architecture, or designing in a discipline that has a strong relationship or similarities to architecture.

All applicants will be invited to submit a portfolio for review (preferably in online format. If submitting a PDF, please compress to 5MB max for storage on the application system).
Information on portfolio specifications & how to submit it, will be emailed to seperately upon inital processing of an application.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum academic IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in all components.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

There is no specific closing date for applications - but we advise applying in good advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for your application to be reviewed. Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Tier 4 visa (if applicable).

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.


The modules Management Practice, and Law 1 and 2, include guidance on the necessary professional skills that are required both for ARB Part 2 and for preparation in commencing ARB Part 3. The design studio generates a portfolio of work that not only demonstrates the learning for ARB Part 2 but also written, research and visual skills. The design portfolio is intended as the vehicle for students to synthesise all facets of their learning in order to seek practice employment.

In addition the school maintains a jobs wall that advertises vacancies locally, nationally and internationally. 

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

The student support co-ordinators are your first port of call for any of the following types of issues:

  • PIP problems
  • Choosing your programme of study
  • Personal issues
  • Financial issues
  • Disability or sickness
  • Learning difficulties.

The student support co-ordinators will refer you on to the appropriate support if they cannot provide you with a solution to your problem. You can drop into the Student Support Office during the working week or you can email or phone the office to make an appointment. Please use this service - it can very quickly put your mind to rest.

Find out more about our student support co-ordinators.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.