ARC2024 : About Architecture: Cities, Cultures and Space

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

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Oral presentation preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion186:0086:00Essay preparation and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture191:0019:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching72:0014:00Elective seminars (Semester 2)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00General seminars taken by full cohort (Semester 1)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study121:0021:00Reading and preparation for elective seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study127:0027:00Reading and preparation for general seminars and lectures
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching in semester one is by means of weekly pairs of 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. 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.

Assessment Methods

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