School of Art, Design and Architecture

MA Architectural Design

This one year MA Architectural Design program explores architecture, design and urbanism, with an emphasis on the critical investigation of space through practical, theoretical research interests and creative activities. Design is the crucial agency for exploring spatial creativity, coupled with an experimental design practice that operates from a core architectural discipline, yet celebrates the blurring of disciplinary boundaries to forge innovation and new disciplines in spatial enquiry.

A top 5 UK young university for subjects of art, design and architecture

Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2022

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

You may now be eligible for a government loan of over £11,000 to help towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Careers with this subject

Graduates have career opportunities in architectural design, public realm design, urban/landscape design, interdisciplinary design practice, spatial innovation and architectural humanities associated to the architectural profession.

Key features

  • Encouraging discovery and critical development in a studio-based culture that fosters a unique research-led practice, converging theory, practice and technology.
  • Co-taught with the RIBA-validated Part II programme, sharing coursework, projects and studio space.
  • Advances the understanding of the role architectural design plays in today’s most pressing societal, environmental and cultural challenges.
  • Encompasses a wide range of skills, theory and practice from urban situation to building performance.
  • Develops the capacity to conceptualise spatial thought in relation to architectural design and production at all levels of design, fabrication and use.
  • Framed by issues of place, people, tectonics and environmental concerns.

Course details
  • Programme overview

  • You will undertake architectural design studio projects that immerse you within spatial debates and cross-disciplinary activities, including working on live projects, community engagement and public events. Supporting your work in the design studio, you will engage with emerging research in architecture, connecting sustainable practices and integrated technology. You will generate a dissertation through detailed design development of a selected aspect of your design studio work. Support is provided in the design studio through weekly tutorials, workshops and seminars. All students will be encouraged to develop a personal and critical path of design discovery. The studio culture fosters a unique design-led research practice, converging theory, design and technology.

    Core modules

    • Building Design (ARCH772)

      This module develops the project and urban and technical strategies selected in ARCH771 as a comprehensive and integrated detailed architectural design enabling students to develop their own theoretical position.

    • Integrated Technology (ARCH773)

      This module will enable students to develop their understanding of the integration of construction and environment via a complex building design proposal. Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of materials, structure, and construction and building physics focusing on relevant issues in creating a sustainable integrated design solution.

    • Dissertation by Design (ARCH776)

      Students undertake an independent programme of design study, building upon work in ARCH771 / ARCH772. This work will be resolved as a comprehensive, detailed architectural design. While it has a general syllabus content, it will also be informed by the students proposal for a detailed design inquiry (subject to approval by staff).

    • Emerging Research (ARCH762)

      Students will undertake a programme of Masters-level research. It has no pre-ordained syllabus content, and will be informed by students' own investigations and staff knowledge drawn from their own research interests. Students will receive tutorial support for their approved research topic within the scope of the module content, seminar discussion and wider reading. This work will be advanced in the context of students gaining key research skills.

    • Urban Design (ARCH771A)

      This module will enable students to position themselves within a contextual and theoretical framework. This exploration will be pursued through group investigation of a given place and will include study of precedents, identification of project sites and briefs and individual development of urban design and technical strategies for a chosen site and brief.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA Architectural Design Prog Spec Sep22 FINAL 6927

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.
Entry requirements

You are required to have a 2.2 degree (50 per cent or above) in degree studies, design mark of 55 per cent or above in final degree year design. Plus submission of a satisfactory portfolio and a successful academic interview.

We also require references from previous university, employer and / or similar.

Work experience for approximately 12 months in an architect’s office or other professionally relevant activity is highly desirable, though not required.

For an informal discussion about MA Architectural Design please contact the programme leader at

Following completion of the MA Architectural Design programme, you'll have the opportunity to continue study on the RIBA-validated MArch Architecture programme or MPhil/PhD Architecture programmes.

If you have overseas qualifications you can check their comparability with the UK equivalent through UK ECCTIS, who provide an advisory service.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualifications and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office.

The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is 6.5.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home £10,200 £10,200
International £15,700 £16,500
Part time (Home) £550 £570
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.

If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Architecture studio space in Roland Levinsky Building - preparation for the graduate show

Facilities and resources

Our designated architecture studio spaces provide a unique learning environment. A range of well-resourced specialist laboratory, CAD, and materials workshop facilities are all in close proximity, putting industry standard facilities at your fingertips.

Find out more about the facilities and resources available to you

Progression – MA Architectural Design

Following completion of the MA Architectural Design programme, you have the opportunity to continue study on our RIBA-validated M.Arch Architecture and/or MPhil/PhD Architecture programmes. 
Architecture of a building
Architecture Research

Research in architecture

Current research within the school informs the content of the programme and work set for you; this includes the internationally recognised Centre for Sustainable Futures and the Culture, Theory and Space Research Group.

Any questions?

Please contact Dr Mathew Emmett, regarding MA Architectural Design: