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School of Architecture

At the heart of the course is a unique and radical idea about teaching design. Embedded in the curriculum is a process, which enables students to develop their own design methods. The course has a distinct, and clear character. Students acquire unfamiliar basic skills in modules attached to the main design course. These relate to the expanded world of architecture, in particular photography, film-making, and the devising of narratives. 

The development of imagination, individuality, and inspiration are key. It needs to be said that underlying this is a preference for complexity, asymmetry, and incompleteness. These are qualities that have a positive correlation with independence, originality, verbal fluency, breadth of interest, impulsiveness, and expansiveness, which stimulate the search for, and production of, new approaches, and reject facile solutions.

This essentially experimental process is based on the development of an experiential understanding of the world. At the heart of this approach to teaching is a whole set of values which redefine the function of architecture in terms of the human relationships that underlie society, how people really live, relate to each other and use the physical context of their environment. 

Over the 10 years of this course running, the results have been spectacular and innovative.


Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MArch: 12 months; PGDip: 9 months

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

  • Oxford Brookes University is unusual in offering this design-based speculative research course in architecture that builds on its excellent reputation for architectural courses at postgraduate and undergraduate level.
  • Brookes' School of Architecture is recognised as one of the country's leading schools and is consistently ranked by The Architects' Journal as one of the five best schools in the UK. 
  • Students from the school figure regularly in national and international prizes and awards, and go on to work for many of the best-known practices in the country. 
  • We have 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 £1,000,000 in recent years. This research expertise feeds directly into the teaching programme at all levels, from undergraduate to PhD.
  • The School of Architecture has dedicated studio space and postgraduate facilities.
The Advanced Architectural Design Modules (50+30 credits) represent the core of the learning experience. Project–based learning is used in a studio environment to individually and collectively explore architectural design problems. The design studio tutors will set the specific design problem and methodology employed. It is envisaged that several parallel studios may be established, numbers permitting, each led by separate studio tutors with different agendas, programmes and methodologies. However, the learning outcomes will be common. Initially, there will be only one studio which will be organised as follows:

The first semester is always a rigid organised fabric of reviews, workshops, tutorials and deadlines with students working both individually and in groups. Within this framework students engage in two strands of investigation: A. an in-depth research into the tectonic possibilities of a new material/s and B. the analysis of a real site with the aim of generating a series of questions that demand an architectural response. By the end of the semester each student is expected to present to a jury of invited critics a catalogue both conceptual and material, from which they will make a project, in a coherent manner using appropriate media. This jury provides formative feedback for students on their learning. 

The first semester design studio is complimented by a series of challenging, group and individual based workshops, Urban Cultures, on drawing, model making and movie making, run by the tutors. Students are expected to engage in questioning and debate with the lecturers and are required to produce a series of responses in drawn and written forms, which contribute to their design portfolio, around a theme related to the lecture series. 

Spread over the second semester there is a further series of lectures on Architecture and the City given by external academics and practitioners. Students are expected to engage in questioning and debate with the lecturers and are required to produce a series of responses in drawn and written forms to exercises set by the visiting lecturer. The results are to be bound into a book, which contributes to and supports their design portfolio, around a theme related to the lecture series. 

The second semester design studio focuses on the architectural implications of bringing the two apparently dissimilar strands of the first semester’s investigation into surprising conjunctions. Students are asked to approach the possibilities created by these apparently disconnected procedures in an entirely logical way. 
At this stage the studio places emphasis on the importance of developing students’ ability to demonstrate conceptual clarity, to locate their ideas in the spectrum of current and past architecture and to maintain a strong link between concept and product. 

Students are also encouraged to explore a wide range of media and technique and to develop a rationale for selecting appropriate techniques for the representation of particular kinds of architectural ideas. Students are required to present their design projects to an invited group of invited critics close to the end of the semester. 

This proves formative feedback for students. The final Module mark is generated from a portfolio-based assessment held at the end of the second semester involving a panel internal staff. This system will ensure a parity of marking when the module consists of multiple design studios.

Students also undertake a Research Methods Module in the second semester that prepares them for their dissertation project. A set of generic postgraduate school-wide lectures on research paradigms, methodology and research tools is followed by Masters specific seminars in which students develop a synopsis for their dissertation’. The module is assessed by means of a review of a relevant past Masters dissertation and a synopsis proposal.

The MArch programme concludes with the Dissertation Project in which individual students work with a supervisor on projects that have developed from the work of the design studio. Students are expected to produce original, relevant and valid projects. The dissertation can take a written or design based form. In the latter case a written commentary is expected as part of the dissertation submission. Students submit their dissertation projects at the end of the summer vacation and are expected to hold an exhibition of their work in the Department or elsewhere as agreed. 

Students who have qualified for the award of MA are encouraged to apply to continue to the PhD degree programme in the School if they so wish.

Postgraduate Diploma
A Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Architectural Design can be gained by students who complete 120 credits but do not complete the full master's programme.

Please note: as our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, course content and module choices may change from the details given here.

Teaching and learning

Studio research is complemented by a series of challenging talks by visiting academics and practitioners at every stage of the process as well as a consistent programme of individual discussions and workshops with your tutors.

You will work both in groups and individually, exploring a new kind of architecture. The methods of exploration include techniques primarily associated with the movie industry, such as the making of collages, optical composites, physical models and drawings both by hand and computer. The tutors act as guides to reveal areas of interest so that you develop an individual approach to the brief, the programme and the realisation of a project.

Teaching is heavily design-studio based, with project-based learning in a studio environment. Several parallel studies may operate, offering different methodologies but with common learning outcomes. The design studio will be complemented by a series of lectures, reviews, tutorials and site visits.

Approach to assessment

The assessment on the taught modules is 100% coursework, comprising design presentations, seminar papers and essays.

The studio critiques by an invited jury provide formative feedback.

The dissertation element can comprise a project, artefact or portfolio in a variety of media, or written work.

Specialist facilities

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 that are equipped with all the software you might need.

Additional costs

An emphasis on physical experimentation means that you may incur costs to purchase materials. Although access to our workshops is free, you need to source your own materials. While it is possible to scavenge for materials or use naturally occurring resources, it is wise to budget £100-200 for build materials for model making. this figure should be seen as a guide as the actual cost can vary depending on your area of interest.

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 printing costs over the year. Generally students submit their physical work as an A3 printed portfolio in a black box - you should budget approximately £15 for this box.

Field trips/visits:
Whilst there is no official international field trip, you are encouraged to visit areas of interest that are relevant to your thesis, and to visit exhibitions and galleries. You should budget in the region of £100 for trips such as these.

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: £9,390 2020/21: £9,500

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £4,780 2020/21: £4,750

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,000 2020/21: £14,700

International - part time fee: 2018/19: £6,860 2019/20: £7,140

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

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

The course is intended for students who have completed their professional role-orientated education and wish to undertake speculative design-based research.

Thus it is expected that applicants from the field of architecture will already possess an accredited graduate diploma or postgraduate degree in architecture (UK), a professional master's in architecture (US), or the international equivalent.

Admission to the course will normally be open to applicants who fulfil one of the following:

  • Hold a good undergraduate honours degree, min 2.2 (or international equivalent), in Architecture or a discipline relevant to Architecture
  • Have an appropriate professional background and experience of designing architecture, or an alternative design discipline with strong similarities

The course also welcomes applicants from other design fields: e.g Product Design, Fine Art, Graphic Design and Interior Design. Such applicants should possess strong undergraduate degree achievement.

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.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

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.

Research highlights

Brookes' School of Architecture is a major player in international research in the fields of Architecture and the Built Environment. The school includes the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) as its primary research vehicle.

Related courses

  • MArchD Applied Design in Architecture (ARB and RIBA part 2)
  • Sustainable Architecture, Evaluation and Design
  • Urban Design MA
  • Urban Planning - Developing and Transitional Regions