Interior architecture of a library in Singapore

Architecture: Spatial Design Practices MA

Explore how art, architecture, and our environment are connected in our Spatial Design Practices pathway. Embrace the entire design process, from concept to creation.

Key information

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Overview

Spatial design embraces the specialisms of urban, landscape, interior, and architectural design. It engages with contemporary arts practices and public art, and draws on various disciplines—including geography, sociology, and ecology—to focus on working with people, place, and the environment in ethical ways. Expand your approach to the spatial design process on our Spatial Design Practices Master’s course, and discover new interdisciplinary ways to understand, design, and make spaces that have the power to transform the world.

This course emphasises that the components of spatial design, like materials and constructions, are connected to not only our senses and perceptions but also other ‘dimensions’ such as technologies, the biosphere, society, identities, and our thoughts and feelings. You’ll study the practical and theoretical frameworks to engage with spatial design’s interconnected practices, which will help you situate it in and amongst these dimensions (called ‘situated ecologies’).

You’ll also take part in current debates on spatial design and learn about the symbiosis between design and environmental analysis to create complex, engaging, and environmentally protective spaces. In the process, you’ll find that you can start your idea at any stage—be it a construction or made artifact—and develop theoretical frameworks to produce finished spaces and objects. There will also be many opportunities for you to work through the entire design process: from concept to realisation and testing your design ideas.

Landscape illustration of a field and pond by Shuk Chiu

Exit award

This degree is an exit award—or 'pathway'—of our MA Architecture degree course. You must apply for that course and select certain modules to graduate with this exit award.

View MA Architecture course

Course highlights

  • Delve into the current socio-environmental challenges facing spatial design practices - including activist design, sustainable and resilient architecture, and temporary urbanism
  • Work alone and collaborate with peers in our industry-simulated architecture design studios
  • Bring your creative ideas to life using industry software such as AutoCAD, Rhino, and Blender
  • Produce futureproofed, innovative works in our 3D and extended reality facilities boasting the latest, most advanced technologies in analogue and digital design and production
  • Discover spatial design practices in different geographies and cultures through virtual exchanges and visits abroad
  • Attend free online lectures delivered by active spatial design scholars and practitioners 
  • Build professional relationships and contacts at local and international networking events with potential future employers

Contact information

Admissions

+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions

Entry requirements

To do this degree, you need to apply for the MA Architecture course. This is because it's a ‘pathway’ degree.

You’ll study Architecture in depth and choose required Spatial Design Practices modules. You’ll graduate with an MA Architecture: Spatial Design Practices degree when you finish the course.

These are the entry requirements for the MA Architecture course.

September 2024 / January 2025 start

A good honours degree in a relevant subject, such as

  • Architecture
  • Interior Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Design
  • Civil Engineering
  • Building Surveying
  • Geography
  • Spatial Practices
  • Fine Art
  • Other design-related subject

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject applies to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you don't have relevant qualifications and/or experience, you'll need to provide a portfolio to support your application.

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English-speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English-speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English-speaking countries will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

If you don't have relevant qualifications and/or experience, you'll need to provide a portfolio to support your application.

For more information on putting together a portfolio, read our MA Architecture portfolio guide.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees

UK, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man students

  • Full-time: £8,900
  • Part-time: £2,970 (Year 1) and £5,390 (Year 2) (may be subject to annual increase)

EU students

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £8,900
  • Part-time: £2,970 (Year 1) and £5,390 (Year 2) (may be subject to annual increase)

International students

  • Full-time: £17,200
  • Part-time: £5,840 (Year 1) and £11,360 (Year 2) (subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

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Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

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Fees and funding for Master's courses

Explore Master's funding options, including loans, scholarships, bursaries and more.

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Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees, so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: Such as photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Modules

You can choose any of the optional modules to build your specialisation, but you'll need to complete both the Spatial Practices modules to graduate with the Spatial Design Practices exit award.

What you'll study (full-time)

Core modules

There are both core and optional modules in the full-time version of this pathway.

You'll review research methods from fields like architecture, conservation, urban design, and interior design.

By critically examining different approaches, you'll plan and carry out targeted research investigations. Activities like fieldwork, studying archives, and theoretical inquiry will improve your ability to gather and analyse information.

You'll also refine techniques to effectively communicate insights through writing, design, and multimedia. This module provides key preparation for conceptualising, implementing, and presenting incisive research related to your interests in spatial design.

The goal is to equip you with versatile research capabilities to apply in further academics or built environment professions. You'll evaluate methodologies and hone specialised skills for impactful projects.

In this module, you’ll pick a specific area to explore that excites you and come up with focused research questions. Through seminars that help shape your initial ideas, you’ll work closely with an expert supervisor to critically examine theories, contexts, and visual sources. You’ll test your theories, combining knowledge from different fields into a structured format. This is a chance to show your analytical skills and professional communication through research methods.

By the end, you'll have proven your ability to introduce innovative ideas through a deep and thorough investigation into a specific area of architecture. This advanced experience will prepare you for further study at doctoral level or bring fresh thinking to the industry.

Optional modules

Learn how to preserve history while revitalizing communities through studio projects and case studies. Conversation experts will show you how to come up with thoughtful solutions that consider the context, users, and environment. You’ll also learn about restoration, sustainability, and ethical practices for historic architecture.

By the end, you’ll have advanced technical and conceptual skills to assess, document, and thoughtfully restore structures connecting past and future. Begin your journey as a reflective conservation practitioner, ready to enrich our shared cultural legacy.

You’ll delve into the big questions and ideas that inform how we keep old buildings safe and intact. Examine different cases from across the world and time to think about the social, cultural, money-related, and green aspects of this work. With expert help, you'll learn about the laws, sustainability, and ethics of working with historical buildings and cityscapes.

Studying theories and histories will help you form your own rationale on how to value heritage, argue for its protection, and carefully restore the past.

This module will give you the knowledge to help preserve our cultural heritage for the future.

Working in diverse teams, you'll explore new methods and perspectives.

Together, you'll tackle complex themes and challenge ideas through hands-on projects and discussion. By bringing together different viewpoints, you'll address tough problems and improve your critical thinking.

The goal is to help you become better at communicating design concepts and creative solutions. You'll learn how to handle complexity by valuing diversity of thought and approaches.

This module prepares you for the real-world by building skills in teamwork, critical analysis, and sharing ideas across disciplines. The focus is on expanding how you think while empowering you through collaboration.

Working to a brief, you'll explore architecture and landscape responses to site complexities. You'll learn core skills in contextual response, graphic communication and critical discourse.

This module provides an invaluable bridge to higher-level challenges that consider environmental sensitivity, cultural legacy and resilient growth across projects.

You'll analyse territorial opportunities and challenges from ecological threats to community identities. Surveying a variety of theories, you'll be equipped to create strategic interventions that factor climate, morphological and sociocultural dimensions.

Using a range of different practices and innovative modes of research you'll devise climate-conscious design/build interventions informed by representation and inclusion principles.

Through demonstrating analytical and technical skills, you will critically engage with representation thories, partically in how they inform study and practice in the field. Allowing you to understand how these issues of equality, diversity and inclusion can play within these theories and its wider context in matters of care and concern through design projects.

You'll test different mediums - from writing to modeling, and develop inventive theories that consider equality and justice.

This module provides an invaluable sandbox for reflecting on knowledge - and developing your ability to articulate the relationship between locales, communities and resilience.

You’ll set up a customised work agreement that lets you put what you’ve learned into action in a real architectural environment. You’ll critically assess the way the industry operates. Depending on your interests, you could join a practice specialising in sustainable design, heritage conservation, or community regeneration. By meeting the needs of your workplace, you’ll sharpen your abilities and understand the field from the inside. Plus, by working on an academic project, you’ll prove that you meet professional architecture standards. This exploration into the working world will help you create valuable connections and show what you can do.

After completing this module, you’ll stand out in the job market, fully prepared to succeed in the architecture field.

What you'll study (part-time)

Optional modules

There are no core modules in the first year of the part-time version of this pathway.

Learn how to preserve history while revitalizing communities through studio projects and case studies. Conversation experts will show you how to come up with thoughtful solutions that consider the context, users, and environment. You’ll also learn about restoration, sustainability, and ethical practices for historic architecture.

By the end, you’ll have advanced technical and conceptual skills to assess, document, and thoughtfully restore structures connecting past and future. Begin your journey as a reflective conservation practitioner, ready to enrich our shared cultural legacy.

You’ll delve into the big questions and ideas that inform how we keep old buildings safe and intact. Examine different cases from across the world and time to think about the social, cultural, money-related, and green aspects of this work. With expert help, you'll learn about the laws, sustainability, and ethics of working with historical buildings and cityscapes.

Studying theories and histories will help you form your own rationale on how to value heritage, argue for its protection, and carefully restore the past.

This module will give you the knowledge to help preserve our cultural heritage for the future.

Working to a brief, you'll explore architecture and landscape responses to site complexities. You'll learn core skills in contextual response, graphic communication and critical discourse.

This module provides an invaluable bridge to higher-level challenges that consider environmental sensitivity, cultural legacy and resilient growth across projects.

You'll analyse territorial opportunities and challenges from ecological threats to community identities. Surveying a variety of theories, you'll be equipped to create strategic interventions that factor climate, morphological and sociocultural dimensions.

Using a range of different practices and innovative modes of research you'll devise climate-conscious design/build interventions informed by representation and inclusion principles.

Through demonstrating analytical and technical skills, you will critically engage with representation thories, partically in how they inform study and practice in the field. Allowing you to understand how these issues of equality, diversity and inclusion can play within these theories and its wider context in matters of care and concern through design projects.

You'll test different mediums - from writing to modeling, and develop inventive theories that consider equality and justice.

This module provides an invaluable sandbox for reflecting on knowledge - and developing your ability to articulate the relationship between locales, communities and resilience.

Core modules

There are core and optional modules in Year 2 of the part-time version of this pathway.

You'll review research methods from fields like architecture, conservation, urban design, and interior design.

By critically examining different approaches, you'll plan and carry out targeted research investigations. Activities like fieldwork, studying archives, and theoretical inquiry will improve your ability to gather and analyse information.

You'll also refine techniques to effectively communicate insights through writing, design, and multimedia. This module provides key preparation for conceptualising, implementing, and presenting incisive research related to your interests in spatial design.

The goal is to equip you with versatile research capabilities to apply in further academics or built environment professions. You'll evaluate methodologies and hone specialised skills for impactful projects.

In this module, you’ll pick a specific area to explore that excites you and come up with focused research questions. Through seminars that help shape your initial ideas, you’ll work closely with an expert supervisor to critically examine theories, contexts, and visual sources. You’ll test your theories, combining knowledge from different fields into a structured format. This is a chance to show your analytical skills and professional communication through research methods.

By the end, you'll have proven your ability to introduce innovative ideas through a deep and thorough investigation into a specific area of architecture. This advanced experience will prepare you for further study at doctoral level or bring fresh thinking to the industry.

Optional modules

Working in diverse teams, you'll explore new methods and perspectives.

Together, you'll tackle complex themes and challenge ideas through hands-on projects and discussion. By bringing together different viewpoints, you'll address tough problems and improve your critical thinking.

The goal is to help you become better at communicating design concepts and creative solutions. You'll learn how to handle complexity by valuing diversity of thought and approaches.

This module prepares you for the real-world by building skills in teamwork, critical analysis, and sharing ideas across disciplines. The focus is on expanding how you think while empowering you through collaboration.

You’ll set up a customised work agreement that lets you put what you’ve learned into action in a real architectural environment. You’ll critically assess the way the industry operates. Depending on your interests, you could join a practice specialising in sustainable design, heritage conservation, or community regeneration. By meeting the needs of your workplace, you’ll sharpen your abilities and understand the field from the inside. Plus, by working on an academic project, you’ll prove that you meet professional architecture standards. This exploration into the working world will help you create valuable connections and show what you can do.

After completing this module, you’ll stand out in the job market, fully prepared to succeed in the architecture field.

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Facilities

Architecture Studios

Our open-plan learning spaces encourage a studio culture of collaboration, creativity and dialogue, preparing you for the ways of working you'll experience in your career.

MUSIC FACILITY AND BAL B ROLL 2022
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3D Workshops

Our Workshops are ideal for model-making, with high-grade kit for crafting wood, metal, plastics, polyurethane, concrete and plaster works.

MUSIC FACILITY AND BAL B ROLL 2022
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Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Reality (CCIXR)

Create stunning works for film, TV, music, gaming and immersive reality in the UK's first integrated facility of its kind.

Site section: research

AED - Feb 23
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How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

Course structure

This MA Architecture course runs for:

  • 1 year (Full-time, September start)
  • 17 months (Full-time, January start)
  • 2 years (Part-time, September start)

You'll spend the latter half of the course working on your thesis project.

Course activities

The following activities will be part of your studies. There might be some variations depending on your study mode (full-time or part-time).

Campus time

Per week, you should be on campus for the following days.

Full-time
  • 1 studio day
  • 1 half-day—usually Wednesday mornings, but may be Monday if you choose the 'Work-based Learning Opportunity' module.
Part-time

1 studio day—either Thursdays or Fridays in Year 1, then Wednesday mornings in Year 2.

If you choose the 'Work-based Learning Opportunity' module in Year 2, you may have to be on campus on Mondays instead.

You can find out more about modules in What You'll Study.

Scheduled teaching

Per week, you can expect to have:

  • 1 no-studio day
  • Half a day—for research methods, thesis, or the modules 'Integration of Transdisciplinary Experiences' and 'Work-based Learning Opportunity'

You'll also be expected to attend evening lectures run within the School of Architecture.

For more information on modules, visit What You'll Study.

Independent study

You should spend roughly 300 hours in total in self-directed study, taking part in various activities like:

  • developing your design project
  • visiting archives, buildings, and sites
  • spending time in workshops and the library
  • engaging with local communities
Smiling students on campus

9 reasons to do a Master's

With a taught Master's degree you can apply your knowledge in a field you're passionate about. If you already have an undergraduate degree, or are working, you can earn one.

Discover the benefits of a Master's

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • workshops
  • site visits (either local or international, depending on the year Studio’s topics)
  • independent study
  • group work
  • exhibitions

Assessment

You'll be assessed through portfolio work.

Your portfolio will include the production of text-based, visual, and 3D pieces using various methods.

You'll be able to engage with studio reviews and receive feedback on your written work before submission.

You'll also get feedback on all your formal and informal assessments.

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project / dissertation.

January start

Courses that start in January have the same amount of teaching as September-start courses, but they normally run over a longer time period.

January-start courses normally run between 14–18 months, beginning in January and ending in the spring / summer of the following year. There are breaks at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. In the last few months you’ll be writing your project / dissertation.

See key dates

Career development

Spatial design is a growing and in-demand field, with an average salary of £45,000 per year for senior design roles (Prospects, 2023). It is partly due to the remarkable role spatial design plays in influencing not only physical interior spaces, but also the interconnection between society, nature and the environment, and the psychological wellbeing of individuals. 

Graduating from our Spatial Design Practices Master’s degree will provide you with an in-depth, versatile, and expert understanding, which will increase your job prospects in commercial, leisure, and domestic settings, both inside and outside the field of architecture.

Careers this MA Architecture: Spatial Design Practices Master's prepares you for

Your skills in design and culture, as well as your professional competencies, will prepare you for careers in areas such as:

  • architecture
  • interior design/architecture
  • urban design
  • environmental, resilient, sustainable design
  • performance/fine arts
  • consultancy work
  • NGOs and environmental organisations
  • Regeneration projects

You can also freelance and open a company, consultancy, or practice of your own. To help you prepare for starting your own business, we offer careers and employment support throughout your studies.

Continuing your studies

As this Spatial Design Practices Master’s course adopts research-informed teaching and learning methodologies, you can also choose to continue your studies to PhD level.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

Career support

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events, including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

Placements and industry connections

You'll have many opportunities to do placements and connect to industry during this course.

On the Work-Based Learning module, you’ll get the chance to practise your learning in a workplace context and critique and reflect on the workplace experience.

You can also meet experts, professionals, and scholars working in spatial design through local and international networking events and online lectures.

Supporting you

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

You'll have regular contact with your personal tutor in learning activities or scheduled meetings. You can also make an appointment with them if you need extra support.

In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you’ll also have access to a Faculty student support advisor. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing and refer you to specialist support services.

If you need support with software and equipment or you want to learn additional skills (including skills not covered on your course), our creative skills tutors provide free workshops, activities and one-on-one tutorials. Skills you can learn include life drawing, film camera operation and video production.

You'll have help from a team of faculty academic skills tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • understanding and using assignment feedback
  • managing your time and workload
  • revision and exam techniques

Computing support staff are always available to give technical support in the Faculty's computer suites during normal working hours. There's also some support available from 5.00pm to midnight at busy times of the year.

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

Apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start dates in September and January, as long as there are places available. If you wait until your start month to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

To do this degree, you need to apply for the MA Architecture course. This is because it's a ‘pathway’ degree.

You’ll study Architecture in depth and choose required Spatial Design Practices modules. You’ll graduate with an MA Architecture: Spatial Design Practices degree when you finish the course.

Ready to apply?

Start this course in September 2024

Apply now (Full-time)

Apply now (Part-time)

Start this course in January 2025

Apply now (Full-time)

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2023, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.