In the 2014 Research Excellent Framework, Cambridge Architecture’s research work was ranked 1st in the UK, achieving the highest proportion of combined World Leading research. 88% of the research produced by the Department was rated as World Leading or Internationally Excellent (Unit of Assessment 16: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning). This consolidates our top ranking established in the previous Research Assessment Exercise of 2008.
This two year course uniquely combines a professional course; that is, an ARB/RIBA Part 2 course with a Cambridge Master’s degree in Philosophy. It provides advanced teaching, research and practice opportunities in environmental design, including the social, political, historical, theoretical and economic aspects of architecture, cities and the global environment.
The course is a hybrid of independent research through design and a structured technical learning resource. It is designed for mature students that join the program with a distinct area of interest and provides guidelines to their scientific research, access to specialists of various fields relevant to their studies, and a matrix of deliverables that foster an informed body of work underpinned by a sophisticated set of design and presentation techniques.
The main outcome is a design thesis consisting of a detailed design proposition, supported by a written argument of up to 15,000 words. This is preceded by four essays or design exercises equivalent of 3,000 - 5,000 words. The course is closely connected with research interests within the Department’s Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies. A number of the academics and researchers teach and supervise on the course.
The programme propagates a twofold understanding of environmental design and mediates between its technical/architectural, and social/political aspects. Both trajectories are studied within a specific geographic area/region, its local set of conditions and global entanglements setting the parameters for each student’s research. Based on the area/region’s characteristics, students speculate on the expansion and adaptation of one of its specific traits and its environmental performance. The outcome of this first part of the course is an experimental adaptation of an indigenous typology, producing a speculative environmental prototype. This prototype is examined scientifically and tectonically, using real and virtual modelling alongside various other media and serves a particular demand and a specific set of site conditions. Complementing this tectonic first part, the design direction of the second part of the course is broader in scale and highly speculative in nature. It draws upon the technical findings of the initial research, but focuses on the socio-political conditions and cultural traditions shaping the area of focus in order to build a set of far-reaching proposals. Together, both parts of this research through design result in a heightened understanding of the performance/efficiency/specificity of a certain environmental issue and the environment it is embedded in.
The course is structured by two terms focusing on design and detailed technical analysis (residence in Cambridge), an interim field work period (elsewhere), and a third term focusing on regional analysis/research (residence in Cambridge). These complementary term components, together with the practice placement, provide an opportunity to explore distinct interests within design practice in various settings, whilst offering a sound framework to pursue meaningful research.
Candidates are free to choose a geographic area/region of their interest that frames their study throughout the programme. Following an initial familiarization with their chosen specific locality and a global assessment of the given environment at hand, students are expected to identify a technical/architectural issue that is indigenous or characteristic to the area/region of interest and holds potential to develop.
The focus shall be primarily with issues of contemporary construction, not excluding the consideration of historical or traditional building methods that are still prevalent. More generally, candidates develop an understanding of the complexity of environments and their various aspects being inseparable from, and integrated with each other. More importantly, however, students will develop highly particular areas of expertise that they may draw on for the remainder of the course.
The programme positively encourages students to develop complex architectural proposals that meet RIBA/ARB criteria for Part II exemption and to acquire knowledge and develop and apply research skills in the following areas:
In so doing, the candidates develop the following skills:
The MAUD course is made up of full time learning and teaching in the Department and field work research. The first two terms deliver intensive teaching in the qualitative and quantitative aspects of architecture and urbanism, in parallel with supervised design projects, case study analysis, and essays in cultural and technical aspects of the subject. This results in the submission of three Essays or equivalent work. Preparation of the Design Thesis commences on enrolment and the choice of subject matter helps to determine the appropriate fieldwork framework and structure of supervision and interdisciplinary collaboration. Up to three recall sessions during the Fieldwork period track progress of the thesis work and monitor research. A Fieldwork Logbook records and interprets the experiences acquired at various stages. Contemporary issues in architectural research and its relationship to practice, relating to the thesis topic is captured in a 'project realisation' Essay submitted at the end of the Fieldwork period. The return to the Department for the third and final term is dedicated to the completion of the Design Thesis. Students will have engaged in a rigorous research exercise and produced a well-resolved and argued design for a significant building or collection of buildings.
To continue to read for the PhD degree following the course, MPhil in Architecture & Urban Design students must achieve an overall average score of at least 70%. Continuation is also subject to Faculty approval of the proposed research proposal, and, the availability of an appropriate supervisor.
Teaching is delivered through seminars, supported by individual supervisions. Students are also offered a series of studio sessions, hands-on workshops, offering support in computer modelling, physical laboratory testing and guidance on the use of environmental sensors and loggers. Throughout the programme individual supervision is provided regularly to assist, direct and monitor progress.
Individual research activities, oral presentations and written essays encourage students to identify and solve problems, and are supported by regular feedback sessions and in supervisions. These strategies, particularly through specialist supervisions, are built upon when the student embarks on their independent dissertation research programme.
The weekly seminars, plus additional research workshops, provide a framework to explore a variety of research approaches from a range of relevant disciplines available in the Department. Students receive general seminars and specific guidance on research methods, the use of libraries, and writing techniques. An initial comprehensive bibliography is provided prior to the start of the course to allow students to begin their preparation. Upon arrival to Cambridge, the bibliography is supplemented by guidance on further reading in the seminars and supervisions. Guidelines on coursework essays and dissertations are given in general terms and more specifically in supervisions. Research methods, techniques and analytical skills are developed through the lectures and coursework.
The course is intense and demands effective time management.
Each student is entitled to arrange the following supervision and design input within full term time. The figures listed below are a maximum figure. Supervision arrangements and contacts will be suggested at the beginning of each term but it is the individual responsibility of each student to arrange supervisions, and to submit work promptly as requested by supervisors.
The design thesis represents 60% of the overall mark and consists of a:
Candidates present their design thesis to examiners at an Exam Board held in their second year at the end of July.
Four essays or equivalent exercises of 3,000 - 5,000 words, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding the bibliography, on topics approved by the Course Directors will be presented for examination. The first three of these essays are submitted during Year 1; one at the beginning of the Lent (Spring) Term and two at the beginning of the Easter (Summer) Term. The remaining essay is submitted at the beginning of the Easter (Summer) Term in Year 2.
The first essay constitutes an essay or equivalent (5%) and an oral presentation (5%), the second is a pilot study (10%) and the third is a design submission (10%). The final essay is a project realisation essay (10%).
Students must submit two bound paper copies and one electronic copy of each essay or equivalent exercise.
The essays and equivalent exercises contribute 40% towards the final mark awarded.
The course requires regular written, visual and oral presentations in the Studio. Effective communication of research findings and design concepts are an important criterion in all areas of the students' work, and assessed at all stages.
A logbook of work and research carried out during the fieldwork period will be presented at the beginning of the Easter Term of Year 2 for assessment. The logbook is not awarded a mark.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.