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ARC8085 : Architectural Design Research 2

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christos Kakalis
  • Other Staff: Miss Anna Czigler, Dr Nathaniel Coleman, Dr Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes, Dr Claire Harper, Professor Graham Farmer, Mr Ivan Marquez Munoz, Professor Prue Chiles, Mr John Kinsley
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 40
ECTS Credits: 20.0
European Credit Transfer System


In relation to the general programme aims, the specific aims of the module are to develop:

•       an ability to develop design research related to the generation of complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural and urban design issues, originality in the application of subject knowledge and, where appropriate, to test new hypotheses and speculations;

•       an ability to evaluate and apply a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media to test, analyse, critically appraise and explain design research;

•       problem-solving skills, professional judgment, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances; and

•       an ability to identify individual learning needs and understand the personal responsibility required to prepare for qualification as an architect.

Outline Of Syllabus

Architectural Design Research 2 is the first of two modules that constitute the Design Thesis, a comprehensive research-led architectural proposition. The module is an opportunity for students to develop their design skills to an advanced level through developing the research required for defining and advancing a complex architectural

Taking into consideration the work that has been conducted in Stage 5 and also based on the dynamics of vertical studios between Stages 5 and 6, the module furthers the synthesis of the different components of design process, such as aesthetic rigour, integrated technology and ecological ethics.

The Design Thesis addresses both the development of core skills expected of an architecture student at this
stage in their learning (presentation and communication, critical and creative thinking, brief and design
development, contextual analysis through sophisticated mapping strategies and techniques), as well as providing the opportunity for them to explore and research in greater depth those particular aspects of architecture which are of special interest to them. In this way, students are required to independently research, select, and
define an architectural design thesis project by way of a declared Line of Enquiry, Thematic Framework,
Functional Programme, Theoretical & Physical Context, Technological Interest and set of Precedent studies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical118:0088:00Tutorial, Review, Process-Related Lectures & Crits (present-in-person except sync-online lectures)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1304:00304:00Independent study including making of report in portfolio format & preparation for final assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk18:008:00Course introduction and studio presentations during induction week (online – synchronous)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

•       Individual design projects allow students to demonstrate their intellectual and practical skills in the synthesis and critical appraisal of relevant information through group or individual work over the duration of the assignment.
•       Group projects allow students to demonstrate their understanding and application theoretical concepts and the practice of key skills. Group presentations at reviews will be used to assess key skills (teamwork, visual and oral presentation) as well as students’ understanding of the main themes of the module. Group work is suggested but not obligatory, depending on the brief given to the students. Joint thesis projects are also given as an opportunity to further develop team work skills.
•       Key skills in written and visual communication (the ability to read critically, analyse and interpret precedents and existing conditions, and convey observations, conclusions, and proposals in various formats) will be assessed through these projects.

The module is taught through a series of weekly design studios, supporting seminars and/or lectures, a field trip appropriate to the studio, individual and group tutorials, and regular design reviews which are held throughout the year with internal staff and external critics to monitor the development of the Research, Brief, and Thesis Proposal.

The module talk is intended to be delivered online (synchronous). This facilitates the logistics of organising a presentation during the induction week in September involving a cohort of circa 100 students and 10+ staff. This will also be the default delivery method for large-group support lectures.

Tutorials, interim reviews and small-group supportive seminars are intended to be delivered in person on campus. They will afford the development of all the skills and outcomes described above both in a one-to-one setting and in groups. These different formats of contact will allow students the opportunity to test out and develop their ideas in preparation for their final assessment of a report in portfolio format.

As a back-up plan, online and hybrid teaching possibilities have already been successfully tested and are ready to be set in action if needed.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1A100Report in portfolio format to include critically reflective text alongside research question/design brief development [online only]
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The project will be for final review before the Winter break review and later as submitted in early January as a report in portfolio format [online only]. Assessment will take into consideration both presentations, moderated across studios.

•       Projects must be presented for assessment at the appointed time. Non-submissions must be accompanied by a written explanation to the Module Leader.

•       Students present their projects at various points in the semester to receive interim feedback. These presentations provide students an opportunity to articulate their design approach and how it meets the
assessment criteria for the module. Students will receive summative feedback after the final review which may be acted upon before the final grading in the report review.

•       Each project is evaluated against a clearly described set of criteria outlined in the project descriptions. The assessment criteria for each project commonly require an understanding of an ability to apply:

-       a particular body of knowledge (related to the project)
-       a particular range of skills and techniques (introduced in the project)

•       Students choose from one of several studios at the beginning of the module. These studios change every year and each studio has a different emphasis and approach to deliver the above Learning Outcomes. This will be reflected in the weightings attached to the assessment criteria, as well as one criterion developed for the studio itself. These criteria, which are agreed with the module coordinator at the beginning of the year, are shown at the outset to help the student choose studio and will be used throughout the module as the basis of the interim and final review feedback sheets.

The whole year’s work (covering both ARC8085 and ARC8083) in Stage 6 is required to be presented in an exhibition for review by internal and external examiners at the end of Semester 2. A rigorous process of moderation is applied subsequent to both internal and external exams requiring all examiners to reach consensus prior to returning marks to the exam board.

Reading Lists