MArch Architecture - University of Portsmouth


Part Time4yrs

Full Time 2yr

A RIBA-accredited course preparing you for professional placement

Course Overview

Why take this course?

The Master of Architecture provides a vibrant, challenging and expansive programme aimed at equipping you with the professional and creative skills for a successful career as an architect and leads to Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Part 2 exemption.

Through the design studios you will be exposed to a range of related architectural interests, including urbanism, landscape, practice, sustainability and culture, providing a cross-disciplinary learning environment that is appropriate in today’s professionally complex architectural world. 

What will I experience?

On this course you will undertake studio-based design projects, with opportunities to:

  • engage with current collaborative projects with academic institutions in other countries – in the past these have included Turkey, Spain, Denmark and Australia
  • work on projects with 'live' clients through our RIBA registered Project Office practice
  • opt to study at a choice of European universities through the ERASMUS exchange scheme

Visit our course blog to find out more.

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is professionally accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). It is structured to ensure the integration and synthesis of contextual, technical and professional complexities inherent within the design process, helping you to engage with the prescribed ARB/RIBA criteria, and attain RIBA Part 2 exemption.

Can I study part-time?

Yes, the part-time MArch Architecture Course is designed for students working in practice. Taught over four years, part-time students typically spend one full day each week at University and four days in practice.

You can find more information about part-time study in the Structure & Teaching section, below.


Derek Williams, Master of Architecture graduate

Portsmouth successfully balances the theoretical side of architecture with the practical, and it enabled me to develop an individual approach to design, that has placed me in a good position to run an Architectural practice. I would recommend this to anyone with a passion for design.

Derek Williams, Master of Architecture graduate

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Structure & Teaching

The MArch Architecture design curriculum is delivered through studios, each having a distinct research topic relating to the research and practice of the studio tutors. The studio topics and pedagogy provide a framework and guidance for student projects in MArch 1 and support in MArch 2 as you develop your particular thesis questions into design propositions.

Studios topics change annually in response to current issues in practice and society, challenging the architectural profession, and offering variety in scale, content, and context in the UK and abroad.

Full-time MArch Architecture course structure

MArch 1, year one

The MArch Architecture full-time course is studied over two years. It provides a foundation for thesis study in MArch 2 and engages with the breadth of the ARB/RIBA criteria to provide a professional framework to the whole programme, leading to Part II exemption.

The year provides a balance of taught and studio design units, each designed to develop the ethos of the independent reflective student.

Design units:

  • Architectural Design: Strategy (Unit 401)
  • Architectural Design: Synthesis (Unit 402)

Taught units:

  • Techne (Unit 410) – technical environmental and professional practice and management
  • Arche (Unit 420) – theoretical context

MArch 2, year two

MArch 2 focuses on a year-long thesis study, reflecting your academic and architectural interests, executed through a process of rigorous critical enquiry. The programme builds upon the skills developed in year one and is designed to interrogate a particular thesis question within the thematic framework of the studios.

It comprises four units:

  • Thesis Dissertation (Unit 421) – a critical written study, exploring aspects of thesis subject

  • Thesis Preparation (Unit 403) – research, analysis, design explorations in pursuit and support of the Thesis Design project

  • Professional Studies (Unit 430) – communicative, professional and organisational endeavours in support of Thesis Design project

  • Thesis Design (Unit 405) – a complex and sophisticated architectural exploration and resolution of the thesis subject

Part-time MArch Architecture course structure

The MArch Architecture part-time course is studied over four years. You will typically have one full day at University, and four days in practice.

Part-time students study with full-time students, sharing studios, workshops and lectures. This provides you with a supportive, collaborative and social studio environment.

MArch 1, year one

Taught units, held on the same day, with a lunch break between sessions:

  • Techne (Unit 410) – technical environmental and professional practice and management
  • Arche (Unit 420) – theoretical context

MArch 1, year two

Design units:

  • Architectural Design: Strategy (Unit 401)
  • Architectural Design: Synthesis (Unit 402)

MArch 2, year three

Taught and Design units:

  • Thesis Dissertation (Unit 421) – a critical written study, exploring aspects of thesis subject
  • Thesis Preparation (Unit 403) – research, analysis, design explorations in pursuit and support of the Thesis Design project
  • Professional Studies (Unit 430) – communicative, professional and organizational endeavors in support of Thesis Design project

Part-time students can opt to work independently on practice-based exercises, with the opportunity to attend a series of lectures (lectures may be held on a separate day).

MArch 2, year four

Design unit:

  • Thesis Design (Unit 405) – a complex and sophisticated architectural exploration and resolution of the thesis subject

Please see our proposed 2017/18 MArch studios below.

You can find more information on our course blog and see output in our MArch Gallery. To find out more about course tutors, see the School of Architecture staff profiles.

MArch Studios 2017-18

Please note, studio offers may change due to staff availability, research objectives and/or student numbers.

MArch Year 1


This studio continues to reflect on cities responses to climate change induced rise in sea levels with the objective of designing resilient and sustainable responses. Studio MUD focuses on direct engagement with design as a way of understanding the issues, materiality and challenges of the urban and architectural proposition, design process and implementation.

This year we are working with the Isle of Wight Council offering three live waterfront sites for students to develop urban strategies/designs in groups followed by individual architectural projects set within group urban strategies/designs.

Tutors: Francis Graves and Walter Menteth


Tactical Urbanism will investigate, in a radical and provocative way, how urban environments will change in the future and create alternative and hypothetical social scenarios as a starting point for your design project. The aim is not to create a futuristic environment but to challenge the current paradigms and try to address the real problems and issues that our society will face in a near 2050 future.

Tutors: Guido Robazza and Antonino Di Raimo


At the core of this studio is the idea that buildings must be seen and designed not only in terms of mere form, function and performance, but also as catalysts for positive socio-economic and environmental change.

In order to deliver good architecture, architects must connect the global with the local, become strategists, think in systems, anticipate the future and cross their disciplinary boundaries.

Students will develop an architectural strategy that addresses four factors/disciplines: architecture, ecology, economy and society. The architectural project will become an opportunity to explore new approaches to design and practice.

Tutors: Silvio Caputo and Gregory Martinez de Riquelme


This year the studio will challenge urban design and architecture’s ability to provide innovative solutions for dwelling in the contemporary (and future) society in dense urban environments.

Students will look into alternative ways to evaluate urban qualities and the qualities of liveable communities and will explore possible ways in which urban spaces and consolidated urban types can be challenged and redefined through new and different living patterns.

Tutors: Dan Blott and Roberto Braglia

MArch Year 2


In 2017/18, we will investigate the future role of architecture in defining the interface of contemporary cultural exchange within a heritage environment.

Working in a city with an overwhelming presence of the past and aiming at envisioning future scenarios from a radically contemporary stance, the studio will explore theoretical frames that seek to envision and develop intense projects with a critical dimension, able to challenge architectural, social and cultural conventions.

The studio will work in collaboration with the Hampshire Cultural Trust, English Heritage and Hampshire County Council Architects Practice, within the context of Winchester.

Tutors: Tina Wallbridge and Pablo Martinez Capdevila


Narratives of time and space, landscapes, buildings and secret gardens will be the starting point for developing individual thesis projects this year. This studio will be experimenting with architecture and landscape spaces – time/space, public/private, interior/exterior, and the desire for the in/between.

Our initial project will explore landscapes in the city, through different narratives, inspired by the writings of Calvino, Burnett, H.G. Wells, and contemporary theoretical, social, and economic perspectives. Final thesis projects, sites and briefs, are developed through the early investigations, and are chosen by the student, individually or in groups.

Tutors: Nick Timms and Paula Craft-Pegg

LATENT DYNAMICS - Waste(d) Cityscapes

Exploring materials and the idea of repetition, the studio will explore ways to stimulate energies, by taking advantage of the existing urban structures.

Imaginative reuse, material explorations, ironic views on the city, on what architects admire and what the user needs and transferable knowledge and experiences aim in defining the projects that come from the students’ interests and interrogations.

Tutors: Martin Andrews and Phevos Kallitsis

BRAIN CITY– A new sustainable environment for the future.

Changes in the human habitat require a reinterpretation of the city. The objective of this studio is to explore the hypothesis of the founding of a new town as one of the possible strategies that can offer a positive response to the speed and magnitude of change with a specific focus on the climate crisis.

The studio, through a research-led design process, seeks to develop critical perspectives that respond to contemporary challenges and the potentialities that come with them.

Tutors: Fabiano Lemes and Alessandro Melis

Teaching and Assessment

You will be taught through a combination of individual and group tutorials in your selected studio, while year-wide units are lecture-based, complemented by seminars and workshops. Our studio-teaching method will mean that you will be working with tutors with professional and academic experience in their field and all unit programmes are complemented by contributions from external professionals.

Studio programmes will often entail shared sessions with European and, sometimes, other overseas institutions, in countries such as Denmark, Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain. Representatives of local public and private bodies and agencies frequently contribute to studio tutorials and crits. All this helps to ensure that your learning and studio research outputs can have regional impact and global reach.

How are you assessed?

Design assessment is through studio review (crit) as work progresses and portfolio assessment at the end of the academic year. ‘Taught’ units, in support of the design curriculum, are assessed through various forms of illustrated written coursework – both individual and group, such as reports and the Dissertation. Various forms of formative feedback are provided at a number of key points for all units.

Tutor's view


Paula Craft-Pegg
Course Leader

The key strengths of our MArch course are reflective practice, collaboration, and experimentation. Reflective practice drives transformative learning and challenges preconceptions. The pedagogical approaches the staff bring to teaching are developed from both from professional practice and active engagement with research, advancing practice through research and research through practice.

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Facilities & Features

Design Studios

In our brand-new home, embedded within the university’s cultural and creative Eldon Campus, you’ll have access to superb resources and facilities to help you develop your work and prepare for professional practice. Dedicated space for each studio is provided in our dynamic Masters floor, which also houses advanced architectural computer facilities, offering the latest design software, shared Masters break-out and projection space and roof terrace. Other facilities in the School and CCi Eldon Campus include:

  • New 3D model printing machine
  • New 3D model CNC milling machine
  • Several laser cutting machines which automate the production of complex models
  • Virtual reality suite
  • Professional printers as well as extensive computing, film and video facilities
  • Life drawing studios
  • Other shared studios, for scheduled tutorials and presentations, with state-of-the-art projection facilities for digital reviews

Project Office

The School’s own RIBA registered professional practice offers a range of consultancy services to clients. The PO gives you access to real clients and live projects, providing hands-on experience to support your design development and professional know-how. In the past we have overseen or managed major building or design works in the city including the Hilsea Lido, the Isle of Wight Zoo, the University’s own 3rd Space, the Bursledon Brickworks and strategies for re-landscaping the public domain in Gosport and Winchester.

ERASMUS Exchange Scheme

We have active exchange opportunities with a variety of European universities, which are funded through the ERASMUS programme and allow you to experience learning within another context for the second semester of Year One. Current partners include:

  • AUSTRIA (Technische Universitat Wien)
  • DENMARK (Aalborg Universitet, Architecture & Design)
  • GERMANY (RWTH Aachen University and Otto Friedrich Universität, Bamberg)
  • NORWAY (Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskaplige Universitet, Trondhiem)
  • SLOVENIA (Univerza v Ljublijani, Fakulteta za aritekturo, Lubjana)


University Library

The library offers a modern, comfortable and well-resourced learning environment, providing a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online e-journals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

There are costs relating to the purchase of drawing equipment, model making, stationery, reprographic requirements and the production of a portfolio. This may be in the region of £100 - £300 each year. We support digital review of some project assessment work to reduce costs.

If you choose to complete a project not supported by existing University resources, you may wish to purchase extra materials or software. These costs will depend on the nature of the project.

For optional study trips you will be expected to pay full costs. Optional study trips to Europe will cost in the region of £300 - £500.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Careers in architecture are demanding ever-increasing specialism and professional competence.

The unique learning experience we offer on this course will enable you to develop as an expansive, creative and professional individual capable of success in a range of creative and professional environments. The breadth of engagement with the discipline and range of studios ensures that you will become confident in responding to the demands of the profession. The regional, national and international destinations of the School’s alumni are testament to this, as are our graduate employment take-up statistics.

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Terence Namaona, Former Architecture student

My studies in the Final Examination in Professional Practice programme grounded me in important professional skills especially contract administration and cost management. After completion of the programme I was admitted to the Board of Architects and Quantity Surveyors in my country Malawi. I am now working as the Director of Buildings in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works having been appointment by the President of the Republic of Malawi. I am responsible for all Malawi Government Building Projects.

Terence Namaona, Former Architecture student

Video Description

Discover the benefits of studying a postgraduate course in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. This CCi TV video features lecturers from the faculty and a current Masters student.

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Visit us or apply now

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Postgraduate Information Days

Our Postgraduate Open Evenings are taking place between February and April. Lecturers and support staff will be available to discuss your options. You'll also find out more about your chosen course and subjects that interest you.

Booking will open soon but in the meantime, watch our Postgrad Live series to hear from our staff and students about what it's like studying at Portsmouth. 

Other opportunities to visit

Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University.

We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.

Find out more about our self-guided walking tours

If you are unable to visit us, contact the admissions team – see the 'Key Facts' section above for contact details.

Further information

If you have any further enquiries about postgraduate study at Portsmouth, including advice on the Postgraduate Loan entry, plus scholarships and bursaries available, visit our postgraduate pages.

International Students

Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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