MA in 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

In 2017-2018 the course was delivered by:

Dr Mark Meagher

Dr Krzysztof Nawratek

Aidan Hoggard

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.

Farouq Tahar
MA in Architectural DesignFarouq Tahar

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 in late 1980s, and the respected ranking of the university which has always been amongst the top 10 in the UK.

What was your background before you came here?

I graduated from University of Science and Technology in Oran (Algeria), where I studied architecture and urbanism for five years. Since graduating, I have worked as an Architect for various architectural firms. After gaining few years of practice experience I opened my own firm.

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. Also, they provide creative ways to surpass any problems you may have like providing seminars to help on a certain project.

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. Also, the group was a mixture of students from different years and various courses. On top of that, students were from different nationalities, with different experiences. I thought it was going to be impossible to work with them on the same project. However, the live project was a great opportunity for me to interact with other students, share my ideas and gain experiences that are helping me throughout the course. In another word, the “live project” explained to me that architecture is much wider than a building.

How is the social Life?

I found it quite difficult to socialise with other students at the beginning of my course. The strategy followed by the School, such as blending students from different courses and years, allows students to interact with each other and enables them to socialise together.

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.

Have you improved your English language skills whilst you have been here?

My English has improved significantly since I started my course, due to the interaction with other home and international students. The patience of staff and native speaker students has built my speaking confidence gradually. In addition, being the only Arabic speaker in my course forced me to use English on a daily basis to communicate with other students.

Jun Zhu
MA in Architectural Design
Jun Zhu

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 2015 catalogue of student work

Studio Topologies Field trip to refugee camp

Sheffield symposium with STEALTH.unlimited