COVID-19 update: This course will start online and continue on campus later. Read more

What will I learn?


This one year full-time MA in Architectural Design is aimed at students who are looking for a rich, engaging and design-focused post-graduate programme which focuses on the multiple facets and relationships between design and research. By pursuing the MA in Architectural Design, the students will get the necessary skills for becoming sophisticated design-research thinkers and practitioners. It shares many of the design elements of our established MArch (Master of Architecture/ RIBA Part 2 programme, but provides greater flexibility in terms of study choices, allowing you to engage with the interests of our research staff. The programme focuses on design-led research techniques and methods to inform your learning process and research explorations. You will develop your existing design skills by focussing on how design thinking might address current global challenges. This approach offers an intense and lively forum for the exploration and discussion of design issues. This is why we place particular emphasis on using design as a means to conduct research. Researching through design is a creative activity that closely integrates the process of designing with the act of researching, so that they can mutually inform each other. You will explore problems by making and testing design propositions, introducing and developing established knowledge as and when required. Through project work, you will draw on knowledge from many disciplines. Students will have the options to develop their design thinking in a range of topics related to the School’s diverse topics of research and scholarship.

Learning and assessment

This programme is available on a one-year full-time basis. You will be based at the Welsh School of Architecture for the duration of the programme. The taught element of this programme is structured around a 60-credit design module where you will use techniques of research through design to explore an issue of interest related to one of the Design Units. This will normally run between October and April and will conclude with a design Portfolio submission and a final presentation in front of a panel of reviewers. Most of your time in the School will be spent in the design studio. Our key pedagogic approach in the design studio is a combination between a varied range of teaching techniques, such as design-research workshops, Unit design seminars and one-to-one tutorials. These are supported by Course and Unit-based lectures and group assignments. Design projects and related exercises are assessed continuously, often through pin-up reviews and where feedback is given. At the end of the year, a portfolio of all design-related work is presented for formal examination by panels of reviewers. The detail information about the modules is provided under the “Structure” section. The criteria by which assessments are made are contained in the School’s Teaching Handbook, in project and coursework documentation, and explained at introduction to the various modules and design projects.

Career prospects

Whilst many of our graduates will choose to undertake a career within architecture or other built environment professions, MA AD programme also provides a large number of transferable skills which will be of benefit across a wide range of professions. The focus on critical design research thinking and project based learning is welcomed by employers in that it provides graduates with skills in creative thinking, conceptual organisation, critical reflection and leadership in decision-making within complex environments.

Which department am I in?

Welsh School of Architecture

Study options

Full Time (1 year)

Tuition fees
Information not available

*View details on institution website

Start date

26 September 2022


Cardiff University

PO Box 921,


CF10 3XQ, Wales

Entry requirements

For students from United States

You will be required to have a bachelor's degree with good grades from recognised universities and colleges in the United States to be considered. A minimum GPA of at least 3.0 is usually required and admissions tutors will pay special attention to key subject classes. IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.

For international students

Typically, you will need to have either: a 2:1 honours degree in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban design; a university-recognised equivalent academic qualification; or relevant professional experience evidenced by a reference.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


About Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised by international employers from the globe-over, making its graduates highly sought after.

  • Ranked in the world’s top 100
  • Based in one of the safest capital cities in Europe
  • High quality teaching with highly qualified teaching staff
  • Recently invested GBP 600m in its facilities