Architectural History, Research and Writing - MA

Add to my prospectus Why study this course? More about this course Our teaching plans for autumn 2021 Entry requirements Modular structure What our students say Where this course can take you How to apply

Why study this course?

Our Architectural History, Research and Writing MA degree offers an exciting platform for approaching architecture through various topics and stories, as well as styles and methods of writing: academic essays, short journalist-like reviews, reflections and creative writing.

The course is taught by tutors with an active interest in architectural research. It provides a space for thinking about and interpreting architecture in the rich context of allied arts and humanities; fine art, design, film, music, poetry, anthropology, philosophy and ecology all play a part in the interdisciplinary discourse.

More about this course

The interdisciplinary nature of this course creates a strong sense of openness. At our School of Art, Architecture and Design you will enjoy access to a rich variety of lectures, workshops and research activities, such as our weekly research seminars.

You will have the opportunity to engage and collaborate with students from other MA programmes such as our Architecture RIBA 2 MArch, Architecture MA, and Architecture and Urbanism MA. You will also reap the benefits of the commonly taught dissertation module, in which you will be taught together with our PhD, MPhil and other MA students.

Each tutor brings their own expertise to the course. These include specialist topics in the fields of architectural practice, architectural education, music, filmmaking and creative writing/poetry.

You will have the opportunity to take part in a field trip for first-year architecture students (it usually takes place in mid-late January and typical destinations include Rome, Venice, Florence or Naples). On the trip you will be able to test a field work approach and further your research. You will also have the opportunity to assist in teaching by offering guidance to undergraduate students while there.


You will be assessed on coursework only (no exams). You will produce essays (4,000 words), as well as preparatory work for your dissertation (eg abstract, research methodology, literature review etc, which constitute marked components). You will also deliver presentations of your research in class and write a dissertation (10,000 to 12,000 words).

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Our teaching plans for autumn 2021

We are planning to return to our usual ways of teaching this autumn including on-campus activities for your course. However, it's still unclear what the government requirements on social distancing and other restrictions might be, so please keep an eye on our Covid-19 pages for further updates as we get closer to the start of the autumn term.

Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in architecture, or a subject discipline related to architecture, the arts or humanities

A full online university application will need to be submitted, which includes a detailed statement to support your application for the course. If you live in the UK, you will be invited to a portfolio interview. If you live outside the UK you will be required to submit a small portfolio of work via email. To find out what to include in your portfolio, view our portfolio guidance.

Consideration will be given to those without standard entry qualifications who have gained non-certified experience through prior learning, provided evidence is given that this is equivalent to the entry qualifications for a postgraduate course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning

Any university-level qualifications or relevant experience you gain prior to starting university could count towards your course at London Met. Find out more about applying for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).

English language requirements

To study a degree at London Met, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. If you require a Student visa you may need to provide the results of a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

If you need (or wish) to improve your English before starting your degree, the University offers a Pre-sessional Academic English course to help you build your confidence and reach the level of English you require.

Modular structure

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2021/22 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • summer studies

    This module is the culmination of the Master’s programme. It allows the student to articulate an extended field of self-directed design research into an ambitious and rigorous proposition. The academically conceptualised module offers Master’s students the opportunity to develop a design thesis: a theoretically framed and argued proposition developed through design project work, the designate modules and personal investigation. This thesis might, for example, clarify aspects of the wider context of the field of investigation, or it might further investigate a particular area of interest. It could take the form of an illustrated written document or an extended design or urban analysis project, suitably documented. The aim is to enable students to position themselves, intellectually and creatively, within contemporary discourse on the design of architecture and interiors and/or the production and analysis of the city, in relation to the agenda of design research.

    Bridging the subject areas of architecture, interior design and urbanism, the thesis is not defined by the limits of professional practice. It may, for example, fruitfully explore the boundaries of a subject area and its cross-fertilisation with other disciplines; it may focus on more traditional but still pertinent ground, or it may investigate the implications of new cultural, technological, or public policy considerations. Whilst it is expected that the dissertation will explore the context of the chosen field of research and investigate relevant precedents, the thesis should in itself be propositional.

    The module is largely self-directed but will typically be developed from the work previously undertaken within design units, from knowledge gained through attendance at seminars (convened during term time) and the production and discussion of a thesis abstract or (as required within an associated module component: AR7009 or AR7016). At the commencement of the Summer Study Period the student is required to present a thesis outline (extending the abstract submitted at the end of Semester 1) which establishes a plan for the final document.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday morning

    This module examines the relationship between buildings and history. It questions the simple chronology of time or period and looks at how architects use history to both quarry and validate ideas. The module examines architectural history through direct encounters with its objects, and the history of architectural history through texts, both contemporaneous and contemporary.
    The aim of the module is to investigate the idea and history of history and its relation to architectural history. It sets out to construct an alternative history of western architecture, critical of conventional chronological histories but spanning from the ancient world to the present day, on the basis of direct encounters with buildings and related cultural products in London. Students are encouraged to observe buildings closely and interpret them creatively, thereby arriving at a deeper appreciation of various historical periods and cultural paradigms, and, alongside the buildings, to examine contemporary written accounts, testing their value as interpretative tools and reservoirs of cultural meaning.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Wednesday morning

    This module's main task is to assist students in developing a creative skill in interpreting the built and lived world. It engages with the interpretation and representation of complex objects like London through the art of writing.
    This module engages with the creative act of writing about a complex architectural subject such as London as an exemplary lived and built city. By presenting a familiar but impossibly large and complex subject, the module aims to encourage students to think creatively. It is about building new connections between things rather than learning to reiterate existing partitions. The discipline of the endeavour is rooted in three processes: the composition of evidence, critical reflection, developing a story from a range of literary and non-literary sources. The aim in this is to help students determine a balance between the weight of detailed facts and given arguments, and their own conceptual leaps and critical judgments. The enterprise should involve students in creating a productive and sociable working pattern.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Wednesday afternoon

    The module examines the work of thinkers within and beyond architecture, relating these ideas to the experience of architecture and to the making architecture.

    Aims of the module:
    The module aims to show how established theoretical orthodoxies might be challenged or re-interpreted in light of students' experience of buildings and other physical forms of culture, using theory. In the module we examine influential philosophical and intellectual themes in the theory of architecture, comparing them and assessing their worth, and tracing current theoretical concerns in architecture to their origins in philosophy.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday morning

    This module reviews the main ways of writing about architecture, using a wide range of texts by outstanding practitioners to exemplify each type. Students will practice the various modes themselves.

    The module will provide a comprehensive view of the opportunities facing a writer about architecture, defining the main ways of writing about the subject and exemplifying them in carefully chosen texts by a variety of outstanding writers. The module will encourage students to experience the writing first hand, involving them in a structured series of practical experiments in the various modes of writing.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester

    Film can often reveal a hidden, poetic truth that even though inherent in reality, is at times not apparent, except through the lens of a camera. Thus, the module aims to introduce film as an alternative form of study of the city and architecture. Still an infant art, film has developed together with modernity and, arguably, its influence on modern perception has been more profound than that of any other art. Therefore, it remains an invaluable tool for studying and understanding modern life.
    More often than not film relies heavily on story and characters. Through this perspective of the inhabitant, the module uses a wide variety of films and attempts to read between the ‘lines’ of architecture and urban planning and explore areas often neglected by those disciplines.
    This module uses film as an alternate means to study the city and architecture in order to gain insight into the nature of modern life. It discovers neglected lines of enquiry between film and urban planning through their interpretation in films that, in themselves, comprise a modern discipline that addresses modernity.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Tuesday morning

    Poetry and Architecture examines how architecture can be connected to a broad range of other discourses through the critical application of poetic ideas. In this context, poetry represents not a literary genre, but a methodology – a tactic that shifts between interpretation (poetics), performance (poetry), and making (poiesis). The module offers students a radical alternative to most current discourses about architecture; an opportunity to conceive of architecture as an actor in an expanded field of practice, knowledge, objects and ideas; and to understand the creative processes that animate, and connect, the practice and interpretation of architecture.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday morning

    The module examines historical and philosophical ideas that deal with architecture as a means of cultural dialogue and discourse since the Enlightenment.
    The module examines historical and philosophical ideas that deal with architecture as a means of cultural dialogue and discourse since the Enlightenment. The aim of this module is to introduce as the key critical concept, the self-awareness of irony, to the evaluation of the role of architectural proposition and thought in modern culture.

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What our students say

These students studied this degree under its former title – Architectural Histories, Theories and Interpretations MA:

"The MA has proven instrumental to the development of my work. While continuing to work as an artist, I have founded flat i, a publishing project that publishes the research and process behind single works of art. Three years ago I began teaching artistic research at the Willem de Kooning Academy of Art in Rotterdam, where I get to implement many of the ideas and skills I obtained during the MA, and share, discuss and push them further together with a new generation of artists and designers."

Michiel Huijben, artist and founder of Flat i publishing who went on to become a lecturer in artistic research at Willem de Kooning Academy of Art

“The MA course was a wonderful moment in my architectural education. This intense study of meaning, origins and invention richly enhanced and informed my subsequent design studies and my professional work as an architect. The themes explored during the MA course continue to inform my approach.”

Anna Crosby, architect and co-founder of Tecten Architectes

The modules on this course are impressive across the board, including the curriculum, teaching & learning methods, and quality of feedback to students. The provision is nationally and internationally outstanding in its combination of intellectual ambition, imagination and rigour, the sophisticated use of the humanities for the enhancement of architectural education, and overall excellence of both tutor and student accomplishment.

Dr Alexandra Stara, Reader & Associate Professor in the History and Theory of Architecture, Kingston School of Art (formerly external examiner of the course modules)

Where this course can take you

Students from the MA (under its previous title: Architectural Histories, Theories and Interpretations MA) have gone on to teach at higher education institutions. Others have continued their architectural career equipped with insights into the historical fabric of buildings and cities.

Additional costs

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

Stay up to date

Follow the School of Art, Architecture and Design on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with everything that's happening in our creative community.

For an insight into what's going on with the Metropolitan Architecture Student Society you can also follow MASS on Instagram and Twitter.

How to apply

Use the apply button to begin your application.

If you require a Student visa and wish to study a postgraduate course on a part-time basis, please read our how to apply information for international students to ensure you have all the details you need about the application process.

When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

To find out when teaching for this degree will begin, as well as welcome week and any induction activities, view our academic term dates.

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