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ARC2024 : About Architecture: Cities, Cultures and Space

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Edward Wainwright
  • Lecturer: Mr James A Craig, Professor Jianfei Zhu
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 15
Semester 2 Credit Value: 5
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To enable students to:

Develop an awareness of theories and ideas from a range of disciplines relating to architecture, cities, space and the production of the built environment.

Recognise how factors external to the practice of architecture, such as planning, regulation, economy, diverse cultures, ways of living and thinking about the world, influence both the production of the built environment and the frameworks we use to evaluate it.

Appreciate the complex interplay between architects’ designs, techniques and practices and their theoretical approaches, principles and political aspirations (such as ecology, participation, diversity, critique) in architectural cultures since the late 19th century to the present day.

Inform and strengthen the theoretical basis on which students develop design approaches and take decisions

Outline Of Syllabus

This course examines the major currents in architectural and urban thinking, and the social, political, economic, environmental, technological and ideological factors that have shaped, and continue to shape, the production and design of buildings and cities since the emergence of modernity. Organised in three thematics; cities, cultures and space, the first part of the course introduces students to key concepts and theories for thinking about architecture, space and the built environment and to the importance of disciplinary perspectives from beyond architecture such as planning, urban design, social sciences, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, history and the humanities. The second part of the course draws on staff specialisms, to enables students to select one of these areas to pursue in more detail in their own dissertation research. The course continues to develop students’ awareness of recent architecture and building from different parts of the world, and builds a foundation for their engagement with the diverse disciplinary approaches to architecture, to inform their own design work and any future research in the subject.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture270:209:00Pre-recorded lectures and guest slots
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion158:0058:00Ongoing essay development towards semester 1 submission
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Oral presentation preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading83:0024:002 hours per week related article reading
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00Reading and preparation for seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:001 hour long seminar per student per block (cites/spaces/cultures)
Guided Independent StudySkills practice81:008:001 hour per week reflective writing on related article
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching72:0014:00Elective seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion83:0024:00Contribution to online ‘discussion forum’ for reading group, non-synchronous
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion80:304:00Non-synchronous online discussion forum for module Q&A with ML/lecturers
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork31:003:001 hour long city walk per block (optional/contingent on PIP)
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity31:003:00Online synchronous ‘reading group’ (optional)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Essay-writing ‘drop-in’ session with staff
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk180:309:0030 minute live module talk and 30 minute live discussion/ Q&A per week
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching in semester one is by means of weekly blocks of pre-recorded lectures organized in clusters around the themes of cities, cultures and space that introduce materials, sources, and establish key debates for each theme. The final week of each cluster will include a seminar involving close reading of key texts and debate. Each week will start with a 30minute live introductory module talk and a 30minute Q&A (both recorded for release after). There will be an ongoing set book for a semester long ‘reading group’ that will follow the seminar groups students are allocated. There will be an online discussion board where they will be expected to contribute to a discussion around the book, with an optional student-led synchronous reading group facilitated on zoom, where staff will drop-in. An optional ‘city-walk’ (guided or self-guided) will be included if conditions allow, to engage students in themes from the blocks in a ‘live’ context.

In semester two students follow a themed seminar series chosen from a selection on offer, that supports their emerging dissertation interests. These are research-led weekly seminars from APL staff from the range of disciplines in architecture, from humanities and social sciences to creative practice and technology. Students are expected to augment this knowledge by reading and exploring other sources of information. This will be revised as semester 1 progresses and conditions emerge.

PiP Hours: Present in person provision will be delivered at the programme level, via academic mentoring on assigned ‘PiP days’. (Architecture’s programme level PiP briefing note provides further detail.
Synchronous v Non-synchronous Hours: While there is both synchronous and non-synchronous learning and teaching activity for all modules, across the programme the structured guided learning is weighted towards non-design modules and the scheduled learning and teaching activity hours are weighted towards Architectural Design modules. The latter is a reflection of a) design studio pedagogy, which is centred on a dialogic and responsive approach to students’ own research and creative work and b) student feedback and high student attendance at weekly online Architectural Design Stage briefings (module talks) during the period of lockdown teaching in Spring 2020.’ Architectural pedagogy is reliant on a high proportion of independent learning to support the design process. The MOF hours are consistent with this approach.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation102M2510 minute verbal and illustrated presentation on seminar theme
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M753,000 word illustrated essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay assesses students’ overview and knowledge of the syllabus and their ability to consider the built environment in relation to some of the theories and ideas they have been introduced to, and to access and synthesise materials and evidence to support their arguments. The oral presentation takes place at the end of the elective seminar series, and assesses students’ ability to synthesise seminar themes, plan and present a verbal argument.

Reading Lists