3 years BSc, 2 years MArch (Full-time) / n/a (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)
The Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) has a reputation of being one of the best schools in the UK. The BSc/MArch is a unique degree scheme, as following completion of the 3 year BSc (or equivalent qualification from another university) the first year of the MArch - the Year of Education in Practice - is spent predominantly in architectural practice . The BSc satisfies Part 1 and the MArch Part 2 of the UK professional qualification for architects, and is approved by the RIBA and ARB. Its holistic approach to design embraces all aspects of architecture. The learning experience is focused around the studio project, based on the traditional one-to-one approach to design teaching. The studio culture is strong with high quality working space, workshops and computer aided design facilities.
For those applicants with a first degree wishing to apply for the MArch Part 2 only, please visit our Postgraduate pages for further information.
Academic staff are supported by visiting professors and tutors from local and leading UK practices, providing an exciting and informative mix of design approaches and experiences.
The School believes that architecture should be humane, site-responsive, environmentally responsible and thoughtfully made, and that these primary concerns are integrated through the process of design. This is underpinned by a commitment towards evidence-based design practices across all its programmes where the focus is on the ambition to design and build in the face of challenges posed by contemporary reality
There is an emphasis on developing individual imagination and creativity within an evolving understanding of how settlements, places and buildings are made and perform in varied settings and cultural contexts. This is reflected in our long established concerns for the needs of the building user, environment and context and which remain the foundation for many of the School’s activities.
As the ‘national’ School of architecture we benefit from strong institutional support and are distinctive through our research activities and culture, very strong links with government, locally and internationally, professional and construction industry bodies and practice, and this outward facing position enriches the student experience at the Welsh School of Architecture.
|Duration||3 years (BSc), 2 years (MArch)|
|How to apply||www.cardiff.ac.uk/howtoapply|
|Accreditation||This course is recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for exemption from Part 1 (BSc) and Part 2 (MArch) of the RIBA's membership examinations.|
|Typical places available||Typical places available The School admits 75 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes, with a further 12 places available for direct entrants to the MArch|
|Typical applications received||1000 (BSc) 200 (MArch)|
|Scholarships & Bursaries||www.cardiff.ac.uk/scholarships|
|Typical A-level offer||AAA|
|Admissions Tutors||Mrs Anwen Cook|
|Tel Number||029 2087 5963|
The wsa attracts undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, and as well as achieving consistently high standards in design, it also enjoys active research links with many other universities nationally and internationally.
The only School of Architecture in Wales, the wsa offers all the qualifications necessary to become a registered architect in the United Kingdom, and has a reputation for producing graduates with the ability flourish within the diverse demands of practice. In particular, the School emphasises an holistic, integrated approach to design, based on both a thorough understanding of how buildings are made and how they perform. This is founded on the physical and the cultural context within which buildings are produced and inhabited.
About the course
Our Architectural Studies BSc is a three-year degree programme in its own right, but can also lead on to the two year MArch programme, and eventual qualification for the profession of architecture, following completion of the Part 3 qualification.
The Welsh School of Architecture is consistently among the top-ranked Schools of its kind in the UK, and you will be taught by some of the leading experts in the field.
The course has an emphasis on architectural design, and two-thirds of the programme is based on project work in the studio. Lecture-based modules include architectural technology, design principles and methods, architectural history, cities and landscapes, practice, management and economics, and issues in contemporary architecture. There are also study visits to architectural sites in the UK and overseas.
In the third year, you will complete two semester-long projects, based on the knowledge and skills you have developed.
The course structure is as follows:
BSc Year One - Architectural Design
Design projects and related exercises in first year introduce key architectural ideas and develop basic design and communication skills. First Term projects begin with explorations of:
- the ‘elements’ (sun, wind, rain)
The year will acuminate with the design of a small building on a sensitive site. In the second term the emphasis shifts to the ‘making’ of architecture in rural and urban contexts.
Architectural technology teaching is closely integrated with the design projects, and the year culminates in the design of a small, multi-cellular building in a built context. A study visit to a major European city occupies about one week in the second term – in recent years students have visited Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen.
Vertical Studio takes place in the Summer Term, and is a fantastic opportunity for BSc First and Second year students to work together, broadening their experience in research and design. A wide range of unit options will be offered, drawing from research, practice and other interests, so as to reflect the expertise and enthusiasm of the WSA community.
- Architectural Technology 1A (10 credits)
- Design Principles and Methods 1 (10 credits)
- Architectural Technology 1 (10 credits)
- Building Through Time (20 credits)
BSc Year Two - Architectural Design
During the first term of second year, students currently work on concepts of ‘making place’ through principles of sustainable housing, a short ‘making’ project, and an urban conditions study.
In the second term the emphasis changes to ‘place making’ to address broader social and contextual challenges, applying the analysis of an existing settlement to a proposal for a small public building and an attached public space.
The teaching of Architectural Technology aims to develop a thorough understanding of domestic and medium-span buildings, and to equip students with techniques to evaluate and predict the environmental performance of their designs.
Term 3 runs as a vertical studio with Year 1, in which students select an option from a range of projects offered by staff, researchers, and architectural practitioners. As in Year 1, a week is taken with a study visit to a major European city.
- Western Architecture 1835-1939 (10 credits)
- Architectural Technology 2 (20 credits)
- Design Principles and Methods 2 (10 credits)
- Architecture in Context (20 credits)
BSc Year Three - Architectural Design
The first term of third year is devoted to the design of an urban mixed-use proposal in the context of exploring contemporary issues. The scale is of moderate complexity and addresses multi-storey framed building types in particular.
In the second term, a choice of projects is offered, reflecting the interests of the design tutors through a variety of programmes and sites. The focus is to design a moderately complex building, explored on various scales by employing low impact strategies, technical strategies (the making and its tectonic) and the use of an appropriate architectonic language. These are the key elements within the project development.
The third year study visit serves as a preparatory stage to introduce the aim of second term project.
Third year students who are suffering financial hardship are asked to inform the chair early enough to arrange financial support to enable them to take part in the study visit. We will try to find an appropriate solution for these special cases as far the system allows it.
- Issues in Contemporary Architecture (10 credits)
- Practice Management and Economics (10 credits)
- Architectural Technology 3 (20 credits)
- Design Principles and Methods 3 (10 credits)
Masters of Architecture
The MArch (Master of Architecture) is a unique degree scheme, taken after the BSc (or equivalent qualification from another university). It satisfies Part 2 of the UK professional qualification for architects, and is approved by the RIBA and ARB.
The first year of the MArch - the Year of Education in Practice - is spent predominantly in architectural practice. It includes three short courses, held in the School, and has a modular structure of associated coursework.
The second year of the MArch is spent full-time in the School and takes students to an advanced level of architectural design. It offers an intense and lively forum for the exploration and discussion of contemporary issues in architecture, and also includes courses in building economics and professional practice.
The focus of MArch 2 is the Design Thesis. Students are asked to define and establish their own position in architectural design, whilst meeting the requirements of the RIBA/ARB Part 2 syllabus. The thesis is structured around thematic studios – Units - collaborative interest groups – led bydesign tutors with expertise and interest in the topic. These themes are related to particular research activities and strengths within the School, and currently include: Economy, Place; Materials; Economics, Territory, Infrastructural Urbanism, Tectonics.
Visiting Professors, eminent practitioners as Ed Jones (Dixon Jones), Andrew Taylor and Pankaj Patel (Patel Taylor) and Tim Ronalds contribute to the leadership of design teaching in MArch through lectures, tutorials, crits and seminars. Peter Salter, who began links with the School as a Visiting Professor, has since joined on a permanent basis as Professor of Architectural Design. Peter brings to the School a notable reputation in design and was recognised for his excellence in teaching in 2004 when he won the RIBA’s Annie Spink Award for Teachers of Architecture. Core teachers in MArch 2 are permanent staff of the School, including Richard Weston, renowned for his books on Aalto, Utzon, Modernism and Materials and Wayne Forster, director of the school’s Design Research Unit.
In the School, the studio is the focus of activity, the location for design teaching and learning, model-making, tutorials, workshops and debate. Contact time with staff is high, and students receive regular verbal and written feedback on their progress. Design projects and related exercises are assessed continuously through the year. At the end of each session, a portfolio of all design-related work is presented for formal examination. Generous resources support studio work including: an excellent dedicated architecture library in the school, media lab, a well-equipped workshop, environmental modelling facilities and digital fabrication equipment.
MArch Year 1: the Year of Education in Practic
Students are based full-time in an architect’s office, but contact with the School is maintained throughout the year. Students are normally visited by a member of staff, and also return to the wsa for short courses in aspects of architectural design and technology, research and cultural studies, professional practice and building economics. These are timed to allow those students wishing to work abroad to do so with the minimum of disruption and additional travel costs.
MArch Year 1: modules:
- Reflective Practice (40) (Autumn and Spring):
- Research Preparation(20) (Spring):
- Design in Practice (60) (Autumn and Spring):
- MArch Year 2: Based full-time in the School
The second year of the MArch asks students to define and establish their own position in architectural design, whilst meeting the requirements of the RIBA/ARB Part 2 syllabus. The studio work is supported by a lecture series in which contemporary issues in architecture are introduced and discussed by members of staff, graduates, visiting practitioners and visiting professors. MArch Year 2 students also submit a 10,000 word Dissertation on a research topic for which they undertake preparatory work during the Year in Practice. Students are encouraged to relate this research, where possible, to their Design Thesis.
Architectural technology teaching is integrated with the design projects, and specialist advice is provided through consultancies with experts in structural design, environmental design, and fire safety. Studies in building economics and professional practice continue through a lecture module, and this is also closely integrated with the design work.
MArch Year 2: modules:
- Design Thesis (80 credits);
- Dissertation (30 credits);
- Practice Management and Economics (10 credits).
Our graduates have a reputation for being able to design buildings that
combine aesthetics with performance and buildability. They are therefore
very much in demand and are to be found in leading practices throughout
The Welsh School of Architecture aims to provide an inspiring and enriching educational experience for students by teaching from a world-leading research and scholarship base. The School engages with research and practice to ensure its teaching courses remain attractive and relevant.
The School develops integration across all aspects of the subject, with project-based studio teaching providing the focus, and encourages effective student-led and autonomous learning, underpinned by professional and personal development planning which is referred to as ‘reflective practice’.
The School produces students who are valued by the profession and who can compete successfully in the economic climate of today and the future, with skills that are valued by the architectural profession and transferable to other sectors.
In the School the studio is the focus of activity, the location for design teaching and learning, model-making tutorials, workshops and debate. The studios are also used for exhibitions and interim and final ‘crits’ - at which students display their work for critical discussion and assessment by staff, peers and visiting critics.
Contact time with staff is high, and students receive regular verbal and
written feedback on their progress. Design projects and related exercises
are assessed continuously through the year. At the end of each session,
a portfolio of all design-related work is presented for formal examination.
|Typical A-level Offer||
A good academic base required, preferably indicating a balance of skills in visual arts, sciences and writing research. General Studies, Critical Thinking and PE are not considered.
|Typical WBQ Offer||Grade A in the Core plus AA from two A Levels.|
|Typical Int Bacc Offer|| 36 points
from a good academic combination of subjects
|Other||Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry qualificationshere.|
A list of commonly accepted alternative entry qualifications and admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be read here.
We also require all candidates to submit a small portfolio. Details of the portfolio requirements and a list of commonly accepted alternative entry qualifications and admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be read here.
In 2010, 92% of graduates were in employment or continuing their studies: 76% of the School’s graduates were in employment within six months of graduation, with a further 16% engaged in further study.
Employers included: architects practices, building energy consultants, town planning departments, construction companies, and universities. Career destinations included: architect, urban designer and research officer.
The majority of graduates proceed to a career in architectural practice,
and are found in many eminent practices in the UK and across the world.
Next intake: September each year
Name: Mrs Anwen Cook (Admissions Secretary)
Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 5963