MA Architectural Design

Start date September
Duration 1 year full-time

Course overview

The MA in Architectural Design is a design-based Masters course focusing on knowledge of design approaches, processes and architectural research methodologies. It encourages students to develop a distinctive design practice, underpinned by a deep interest in social dynamics and architectural culture.

The programme builds on the School of Architecture's acclaimed research and teaching expertise in the area of architectural design, complementing the work done in ARB/RIBA accredited programmes of the School. These consider architectural design within a broad social, environmental and economic context.

Students on the MA in Architectural Design programme are encouraged to explore, challenge, and inform contemporary architectural design practice through seminars, research, studio project work, field trips, and participation in design-led practice, teaching and learning innovations – for example the pioneering `Live Projects´.

The MA in Architectural Design attracts the most talented students from different backgrounds, with a special interest in architectural research by design. Our students demonstrate an original design approach as the result of their critical interpretation of the contemporary context.


Entry Requirements

Course outcomes

Students on the MA in Architectural Design specialise in the theory and practice of design thinking to develop the skills and knowledge to be thoughtful, creative and original practitioners and scholars.

Graduates have pursued careers both in architectural and design practice and in academia.

The MA in Architectural Design also supports the PhD by Design programme, providing an appropriate entry-level one-year Masters course as a foundation for doctoral research.


Under fantastic supervision I made excellent progress not only on the specific thesis topic, but also on how to manage a research project which provided a helpful foundation for my PhD research.

Xiang Ren, MA in Architectural Design


The MA in Architectural Design is open to students only as a full-time course. Full-time students are registered for one full year (October to September).

The studio work is an essential part of the MA in Architectural Design. Our thematic studios investigate architectural themes in depth, according to the studio tutors’ research interests. The aim is to consider design within the context of rigorous and innovative research.

The core module Reflections on Architectural Design supports students in understanding the value of architectural research within the contemporary design framework and it relates directly to their studio work.



Students registered for the MA in Architectural Design will attend specific Core Modules. Then, according to their major interest, they can choose one of three options.

Core Modules

Special Design 1 'Live Project' - ARC6991 (15 credits)

Design Project 1 - ARC6986 (15 credits)

Design Project 2 - ARC 6987 (30 credits)

Reflections on Architectural Design - ARC6989 (15 credits)

Thesis Project - ARC6988 (60 credits)

Environment and Technology in Design - ARC6854 (15 credits)

Option 1

Critical Spatial Theory - ARC6741 (15 credits)

+ 1 Option Module (15 credits)

Option 2

Theory and Research in Design - ARC6853 (15 credits)

+ 1 Option Module (15 credits)

Option 3

Politics of Architecture and Urbanism - ARC6742 (15 credits)

+ 1 Option Module (15 credits)

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of changes the University will consult and inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Teaching Staff

Core staff 2018-2019

Dr Krzysztof Nawratek

Dr Emma Cheatle

Related staff

Carolyn Butterworth
Dr Beatrice De Carli

Dr Florian Kossak
Dr Jo Lintonbon
Dr Chengzi Peng
Professor Doina Petrescu
Dr Renata Tyszczuk

Student experiences

Each year we attract excellent national and international postgraduate students to this School who all contribute to a socially vibrant and academically challenging environment. Here, our students share their reasons for choosing this programme and their experiences in Sheffield.

Pritika Akhil Kumar
MA in Architectural Design

Why did you decide to study this course at Sheffield?

The unique social outlook towards architecture that is evident in every piece of work done at the Sheffield School of Architecture is what drew me to this programme. This is the kind of architecture that I had always wanted to practice and I am glad to say that studying here has helped establish such a thought process in me.

What have you enjoyed about the course?

I have thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to new ideas and approaches to architecture that I was previously unaware of. There is also a lot of freedom provided to students in allowing them to pursue their chosen fields of interest and ample academic support no matter what you choose.

I am grateful to the School for creating a shift in my thinking process and helping me establish a clear point of view towards architecture. The School also helps explore alternative methods to the practice of architecture which is extremely useful in understanding the complexities of each project.

How do you think your degree experience will help you in your career?

The programme here is deeply rooted in reality and modules like the Live Projects help cement a real world thinking process which is very important and useful going into practice.

How has studying at Sheffield informed the way you think about the subject?

My approach to architecture differs greatly now from what it was coming into the course. The pedagogy at the Sheffield School of Architecture is geared towards a social understanding of space that is not strictly perceived as architecture in built form. The School focuses on developing a sensitivity towards the user which I think is vital to the design process.

What career aspirations do you currently have for after you graduate?

I hope to work with a firm that helps me develop the participatory methodology and approach to architecture that has been established through my year of study at Sheffield. The aspects that interest me the most relate to urban design processes, particularly, the temporary use of space and urban interventions. I hope to be able to find work in Europe for a couple of years following which I intend to relocate to India where I wish to start my own practice.

What advice would you give to a new Sheffield student?

I think that the most important thing is to keep an open mind coming into the programme. It is important to be receptive to new ideas and processes, especially considering the collaborative nature of most projects that you will undertake here. Peer based learning contributes as much to your development as do interactions with the teachers and I've always found group projects to be the most enriching experiences here.

How should students make the most of University?

I would advise them to be "aware". There are a lot of things happening in the university and there are a number of lectures and workshops that one can attend outside of class. It's easy to lose track of these events but they tend to be very helpful in developing your design thinking. I would, in fact, recommend this to any student at the University.

What is your favourite thing about Sheffield?

Even before I came to Sheffield, I had heard a lot about how friendly the city is and this is something that is very true. The University puts in a lot of effort into creating a friendly atmosphere that is warm and welcoming. Although I have spent only a year here, I very much feel a part of the student community in Sheffield.

Farouq Tahar

Farouq Tahar
MA in Architectural Design

Why did you choose Sheffield?

There are many reasons that inspired me to choose Sheffield, including recommendations from relatives and family friends who studied at the University of Sheffield and the respected ranking of the university.

Is the department supportive?

The staff at the school are very helpful, supportive and friendly. An example of this is the open relationship between the students and the tutors who are always available for a discussion. This enables students to develop their own agenda to launch their research.

What was your first lecture/studio like?

My first module was “live projects” which was groupwork. I was worried about working in a group, on a real project and with a real client. However, the live project was a great opportunity for me to interact with other students, share my ideas and gain experiences that helped me throughout the course.

Do you go on fieldtrips?

As part of our studio work, we have visited three sites including Heeley (Sheffield), London and recently Paris. These trips allowed me to explore more places in the UK and outside the country. I enjoyed the trip to Paris the most, not only because it is one of the most beautiful cities, but it was a trip where we explored a different European culture, and enabled us to visit projects that are strongly related to our studio work. In addition, this trip allowed us to meet other architects and designer who shared their knowledge and experiences with us.

What is it like to live in Sheffield?

When I first came to Sheffield, I liked the green spaces available around the city as well as its small city centre which is quiet and multicultural. The living cost is more than reasonable; people are friendly and most importantly the safe atmosphere that is created by the high presence of students.

Jun Zhu

Jun Zhu
MA in Architectural Design

Why did you choose Sheffield?

I heard about the fame of the University of Sheffield when I was still on my undergraduate course. When I was looking for a place to further my study of architecture, I found that the education here is very high quality and suitable for me. My college class mates also graduated from here and told me about the fruitful learning experience and recommended the city as a nice place to live.

What was your background before you came here?

As a Chinese student, I graduated from Tongji University where I finished a 4 year course majoring in Landscape Architecture. After a short experience of studying in London, I worked in architecture firms for nearly two years developing my enthusiasm for the subject.

What are the staff and students like?

The first few meetings and lectures really gave me the impression that the staff are so kind and care for the students. The course structure and the facilities we can use were really well introduced to us. The staff are happy to talk with and willing to help us. Especially, for international students like me with different educational background, there were meetings where we could discuss with the staff about the issues and questions we have.

The most fascinating and helpful thing for me is working in cooperation with local students. The course links MArch and PGT students which has not only helped me to adjust myself to English life more easily, but also has given me the opportunity to learn skills from these local students and improve myself a lot.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I’m quite looking forward to a job or internship in the UK when I graduate. The simple way of living here attracts me a lot. Furthermore, I think the work experience I could get in these high standard architecture firms here would be quite useful for my career.

View 2018 catalogue of student work

Studio Topologies Field trip to refugee camp

Sheffield symposium with STEALTH.unlimited