Course Content (including module information)
'Creativity with Purpose' is the basis of Architecture at Queen's.
Students explore design in a studio environment, contextualised by modules in history/theory, technology/environment and professional practice. The course is modular in structure, allowing students to learn and develop their skills through an extensive range of topics, which grow in complexity throughout Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the degree. Topics include:
- History and Theory of Architecture: students are introduced to the historical and theoretical backgrounds to Architecture by exploring key buildings and spaces, as well as significant principles, texts and thinkers. Architectural and cultural theory, produced by both architects and theorists, are introduced and explored. Students are also provided with a platform for the development of skills, including research methods, essay writing and critical thinking.
- Architectural Design and Communication: students learn about architectural design and representation through design-based projects, which vary in scale and complexity as the course progresses. The urban physical context and the critical thinking processes in relation to the built environment and design are explored. Students also learn about structures and materiality and the importance of architectural communication, using appropriate graphic media. Research of architectural precedents and presentation of analytical studies both verbally and in the form of models and drawings are key features.
- Technology and Environment: students learn the principles of building technology, including structural behaviour, building construction and materials, within the context of the building process, sustainability, and the use of descriptive and performance specifications. The topic also deals with the environmental performance of buildings through passive design strategies, eg, natural light and ventilation and the way these requirements inform the design of buildings, their forms and structure.
Students have four modules they need to pass each year, and the degree result is cumulative, with 10, 30 and 60 per cent for Stages 1-3, respectively.
Stage 1 focuses on our belief that our students benefit from a smooth transition into university, and thus we strongly support students in learning to draw architecturally, make models and to begin the process of forming and communicating positions on Architecture.
Stage 2 acts as a laboratory for testing creative and critical ideas and the process of creating. We continue to support students' increasing levels of confidence and independence through developing more complex architectural skills and understanding of technology.
Students in this Stage are both speculative thinkers and accomplished designers, able to deliver detailed, resolved proposals. They operate independently, drawing on previous learning and personal interests. In this final year, they consider the many possible career paths presented to them over the course of their studies.
Assessment & Feedback
Feedback (general): As students progress through their course at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
- Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, have submitted.
- Face to face comment. This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers’ advertised “office hours” to help you to address a specific query.
- Placement employer comments or references.
- Online or emailed comment.
- General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.
- Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid. In some instances, this may be provided in the form of model answers or exemplars which you can review in your own time.
- Feedback and outcomes from practical classes.
- Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as, Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service.
Once you have reviewed your feedback, you will be encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work.
Learning and Teaching
The undergraduate course adopts a year structure with each year (or ‘stage’) adopting both architectural and teaching/learning aims. The design studio is a well resourced focus of the programme, with each student having over twenty hours of contact time each week of both of the twelve week teaching semesters. Whilst Architecture is understood as an intellectual discipline, it also relies heavily on a range of skills, the most obvious of which are drawing, model-making, written and verbal communication skills and design. Around these core representational skills sit other skills such as time-management and critical reflection. This programme attracts academically able students, but typically their intellectual capabilities exceed their skills. The staff have heavily invested in first year skill-based teaching to increase students capabilities in such areas as technical drawing, model making and writing, whilst at the same time reinforcing the students’ own responsibility to progress their skills through self-directed learning.
Stage One focuses on bringing students into university level education, marrying the development of skills to self-reflection. Students in Stage One begin to understand the importance and responsibility of practising skills: graphic, design, written, verbal, thinking, self-evaluation, group working. In addition to this transition and acquisition of skills, Stage One focuses on the architectural issue of context in all its complexity and how it impacts on programme, materiality and form. Our students are very complementary about the joint one week design studio “Street Society” project, bringing Stage One and first year postgraduate (part 2) students together to work on real projects for real clients.
Stage Two focuses on the development, by each student, of personal, holistic, and viable design skills. Students are encouraged to develop maturity in analysing design problems and in broadening their understanding of the relationship between architecture, technology, construction, theory, history and the wider social context. Building upon the skills and applications learnt in Stage One, students investigate place makingin a variety of contexts. Combining this with the consideration of design generatorsand integration of technology, students are encouraged to personalise the design process to reflect their own individual interests and concerns in architecture.
Stage Three is recognised both as an end point to undergraduate studies and as the beginning of a student’s future development. Stage Three asks students to deliver completed, resolved proposals, drawing on all of their learning throughout the course. Students are encouraged to advance their own personal areas of enquiry in preparation for professional life and further learning. The focus of Stage Three is on more complex contexts and agendas for Architecture and / in / of the City.
We emphasise to students that much of their learning and skill development occurs away from the formalised areas of the course. We use the metaphor of the iceberg in respect to learning -- the small visible section above the water line is contact teaching time with staff whilst the much larger section below the water line is a student’s own self-led learning time. We also encourage students to learn outside formal teaching environments, including external lectures and exhibitions and service projects as well as international study visits which occur in all Stages of the BSc undergraduate Course.
We have numerous academic awards and prizes, many of which are funded through trusts and industry sponsors. The support and guidance we give students often contributes to them receiving other external scholarships, grants and awards. Nearly all our three hundred students are members of the student society ARCSOC, which is very active arranging social events and an evening guest lecture programme. Our students are regularly placed in national and international competitions and award programmes.