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The two-year MArch programme at the Belfast School of Architecture offers a distinctive, exciting and dynamic research-led learning experience.

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Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations

  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  • Grimshaw Architects
  • Hall
  • Black and Douglas
  • Todd Architects
  • White Ink Architects
  • FaulknerBrowns Architects
  • Office of Public Works

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles

  • Part 2 graduate architect
  • Architectural Assistant
  • Urban Designer
  • Planning Administrator
  • Sustainability Administrator
  • Conservation Administrator
  • Research and Development Officer


In this section

The two-year MArch programme at the Belfast School of Architecture offers a distinctive, exciting and dynamic research-led learning experience.


Based in one of the most culturally significant cities in Europe, the two-year Master of Architecture programme at the Belfast School of Architecture offers a distinctive, exciting and dynamic research-led learning experience leading to exemption from the ARB/RIBA part 2 examination.

The MArch is considered as an inter-related series of studio projects and related studies that lead you towards your final year design thesis. The MArch explores architecture that responds to the complex and changing context of architecture and urbanism and the transformations taking place in society. The course team of academics, historians, practitioners, advisors, artists and researchers are committed to understanding and documenting our existing built heritage while proposing imaginative and alternative futures in both the urban and rural context that are socially and ecologically responsible.

Urban investigations and an awareness of the shifting conditions of the contemporary city with its differing social structures, geography, culture, climate, economics, energy consumption, technologies and urban patterns, will form the basis of the MArch studio research. Experimentation, critical reflection, debate and a diversity of approaches are encouraged through different practices and methods in order to locate and establish informed positions and skills.

An important part of this is to address the wider issues facing the profession and in providing a forum to investigate, challenge preconceptions, explore and fully engage the role of the architect in society.

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About this course

In this section


Students on the M.Arch are taught together in an all-years ‘vertical studio’ approach, working in teams akin to practice. Themed studios operate in bespoke studio facilities with a dedicated permanent studio space for each theme. Students undertake a series of exploratory investigations towards a final outcome through which they will research, develop, test and articulate their own emerging architectural response to a key theme. Previous themes have been around aspects of Urban Polyvalency, Bio-Morphic Design, Waterlands and Conflict Architecture. Each theme sets the context for the work and encourages the students to use a range of mediums such as film, installation, drawing and performance to communicate and test their ideas across art based disciplines. Large scale spatial models and drawings of key international buildings examine differing responses to space, light, material, and climate through framing questions around such aspects of the wall, the plan and the section.

There is also a supporting framework of complementary modules, including dissertation, around which students develop their design thesis. This new approach has been developed in response to the RIBA’s objective to update and enhance UK architectural education to meet regional and global demands following discussions with the profession and students. Across the two years of the M.Arch design questions build in complexity, informed by current staff research, scholarship and pressing disciplinary concerns. The M.Arch is at the heart of the vertical studio approach that bring 5th year and 6th year students together with the BA cohort in a framework of collaboration, inquiry and craft as well as leadership and facilitation. The approach is one which progressively develops students into stable and self-reliant critical thinkers and doers as pedagogic emphasis shifts from knowledge-based instruction to critique of critical practice and associated discourse.

Year 1 of the M.Arch explores wider issues of architecture and how architectural thinking can be applied to a range of societal contexts. This is to widen your perceptions, broaden debate and to consider issues at a wider scale than just individual buildings.

Students will build on this exercise by undertaking an international study-trip to further inform your understanding of current issues and the relationship between project ideas and the urban/social context of the city in question. M.Arch students have previously investigated cities such as Venice, Boston, Berlin and Barcelona. You will be asked to compile your findings into a research fieldbook and to share your knowledge as part of the vertical studio assessment.

Year 2 of the M.Arch begins by exploring architectural ideas in a more oblique way than just starting a design thesis with a site and brief. These explorations will allow you to cultivate potential ideas and research for your thesis project in a less linear way and which aims to enable you to position yourself relative to the wider culture and debates at an advanced level in the discipline of architecture.

After these initial projects, you move into the major work of the year – the thesis project. Working as leaders within the vertical studio approach, thesis design documents are given out to act as a guide to help you identify firstly what your project will be and to structure the shifting emphasis of the year from initial concepts and research through to a fully developed building design that is technically and poetically resolved.

In combination with and alongside the design studio the Dissertation offers you the opportunity to explore through personal research a specific theme, question or interest. You may relate this (where possible) to your design thesis so as to allow consolidation of enquiry and effort and critical mass of exploration, but you can also make this an independent study if you wish. You have the option to select a combination of text with another media output -such as objects, drawings, film, etc- as an alternative to the 10,000 word submission. This allows a material/media exploration that is possible ajacent to an Art School context.


The Master of Architecture (M.Arch) is a full-time course based at the Belfast School of Architecture which is located on the Ulster University Belfast campus. You are normally expected to be in attendance Monday - Friday.

A typical week on the M.Arch includes time in the design studio and in tutorials, seminars and lectures.

Start dates

  • September 2019
How to apply


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Ideas Lab

Year: 1

This introduces architecture students to the most current preoccupations within architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, and thereby enables them to participate in current debates and define their own area of interest. The module enables the student to define their own particular area of research interest and allows for the theme and structure for the dissertation and thesis projects to emerge and for them to be critically supported.

MArch Design 1

Year: 1

This module is designed to equip students with the necessary skills that are required for the undertaking of the design thesis in Year 2 and to foster a deeper architectural discourse for those returning from Part I experience. Students will undertake a series of exploratory investigations through which they will research, develop, test and articulate their own emerging architectural standpoint. Studio investigations will be centred on the architectural research, scholarship and practice currently being undertaken by architectural staff and encourage students to develop critical reading and debate skills, graphic skills and innovative, imaginative and radical approaches to design and its representation.

Buildings, Climate and Agency

Year: 1

The craft of making buildings is central to the work of an architect. The knowledge of structural systems and choices for building, the understanding of material quality and the technical details of environmental design, energy conservation and use, weathering, acoustics and building performance framed by a sustainability agenda within an overall approach to architectural tectonics is the proper work of architecture. Together industry and buildings are typically responsible for up to 50% of a country's energy use. Energy efficiency is one of the main strategies which should be considered when attempting to preserve existing energy resources and reducing environmental impact.

All of that is, of course, necessary and urgent to address…but, what are the processes and tools that might empower ordinary citizens to make real change in their neighbourhoods and cities? What might be the first steps in the curving, looping, muck-shifting world of making buildings in a real place?

Year two

Thesis Design Studio

Year: 2

This module will demonstrate the ability to self define a research led design thesis of suitable complexity and originality, and which is informed by the application of advanced subject knowledge. It will evidence through the Academic Portfolio the ability to carry out relevant independent research, explore alternative design strategies, critically appraise and reflect on working methods and practices, and communicate these ideas using a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media.


Year: 2

This module culminates in the achievement of the written dissertation. In this module the student will demonstrate a critical understanding of how a new contribution to knowledge is made through research. The dissertation will reflect the student's own particular theoretical interest in architecture or related subject areas and will be original, rigorously developed and clearly argued and presented.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

Applicants must hold a degree with at least 2:2 honours or equivalent and have a portfolio of their own work.

Applicants must have an undergraduate architecture degree giving exemption from the RIBA/ARB Part 1 with a supervised year out experience in architecture practice.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

The Master of Architecture programme uses a full range of teaching and learning scenarios. There are two main learning activities: Taught Study and Self-Directed Study

Taught studies include such activities as reviews (reviews of work, sometimes known in architecture as crits/critiques), tutorials (individual and group), seminars (staff and student led), workshops and demonstrations.

Self-directed study is carried out within the module timetable but without time-tabled staff contact. You are expected to carry out such activities as ideas development, research, designing, drawing, reading, writing etc.

It is central to the pedagogy of architectural education at Ulster that each student has dedicated studio space.

Group Reviews (crits / critiques):Reviews are held within design studio modules and are used to review work to-date. Students and staff discuss the work and ideas in a constructive and critical way. This interaction aims to improve communication skills and helps to develop critical reflection and the application of judgement to students’ work and that of their peers. It also allows students to check the progress within the module.

Tutorials (individual and group):Tutorials take place during studio projects. The teaching methods encourage you to adopt a knowledge seeking attitude, to build up confidence in your own ability to learn and to make reasoned judgments based on available evidence. In a number of modules the cascade model of Peer Tutoring is used whereby the more able members of the class assist those of lower ability levels. Students may be less inhibited in discussing difficulties with their peers than with their teaching staff. Tutorial sessions aim to check your achievement and progress. You are asked to prepare questions and issues related to your work before the tutorial and note down any suggestions made by the tutor(s) or your peers. Students can expect different options and viewpoints if two or more tutors are involved and particularly if it is a group tutorial with other students. The discussion should help you highlight your strengths and weaknesses so you can plan future action for improvement. The breadth of opinion will also help you to confirm and form your own personal direction as designers.

Seminars (staff and student-led):Seminars are a structured discussion between a group of students and a member of staff. The seminar is usually based upon a topic that has been previously prepared and circulated. The discussion can be staff or student-led and can be an assessable component of a module (self and/or peer assessment may be used). You are asked to prepare some questions or issues you wish to be considered by the other participants before the seminar takes place. You can also expect to prepare presentations for a seminar.

Lectures:Lectures are normally occasions where a member of staff or invited guest will speak on a particular subject to groups of students. A lecture is a means of communicating information. It helps in the understanding of concepts, theories and techniques. A lecture in the MArch is not a primary information source but an opportunity to show how arguments and explanations work, how to apply techniques and to hear the language of the subject. The use of aids, such as video presentations and computer data projection may be used to augment these presentation techniques. Presentations from guest lecturers, particularly from practicing professionals will enhance the student learning experience. Lecturers’ handouts may provide supporting materials that can be typically downloaded via the University’s web server or network.

Workshops and Laboratory Work:Workshops are typically organized for a max of 20 students. They are designed not only to disseminate information on a process or skill, but also to give you an opportunity to practice or further develop that process/skill. The use of laboratory work will be aimed at developing a sense of enquiry in students, a comprehension of the diverse nature of the construction and property industries and a spirit of achievement and originality. Laboratory work will support lecture content, emphasise safe working practices, investigative techniques and interpretation of results. Experimental work will relate more to practice and problem solving. In addition the laboratory-based environment is more supportive of group work and peer learning strategies, which are seen as valuable adjuncts to the teaching process.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:

  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  • Grimshaw Architects
  • Hall
  • Black and Douglas
  • Todd Architects
  • White Ink Architects
  • FaulknerBrowns Architects
  • Office of Public Works

Job roles

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:

  • Part 2 graduate architect
  • Architectural Assistant
  • Urban Designer
  • Planning Administrator
  • Sustainability Administrator
  • Conservation Administrator
  • Research and Development Officer

Career options

Graduates are working in many different practices both nationally and internationally on a range of exciting building and urban projects. The knowledge gained during this professional degree (i.e. RIBA Part II) will not only support a wide range of employment opportunities in architecture practices, urban design bodies, architecture conservation organisations, and many governmental and private relevant institutions but also facilitate the route to a PhD level research.

Professional recognition

Architects Registration Board (ARB)

Accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) for the purpose of a Part 2 qualification.

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Validated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) at Part 2 level for the purpose of eligibility for membership of the RIBA.

Academic profile

For further information please contacr the School Office;

T: +44 (0) 28 9536 7427


How to apply Request a prospectus

Applications to this programme can be made through the University’s online application system.

Start dates

  • September 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees

Northern Ireland & EU:

England, Scotland, Wales
and the Islands:

£9,250.00  Discounts available

£14,060.00  Scholarships available

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Students are invited to apply for entry to the RIBA and RSUA Annual Student Competitions.

Additional mandatory costs

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
  2. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  3. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  4. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  5. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.