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In the third year of the Design Tripos in studio students apply the core engineering and mathematical skills learnt in the first two years to increasingly complex design problems. As in the first two years, the first two terms will involve projects of various scales. The final project is a building design which demonstrates what has been learnt in the whole course, in the design of a building that aims to address a particular aspect of sustainability.

All students take Studio. They also take the Professional Skills course which is shared with Architecture and choose five further papers from a wide range of options.

The emphasis in third year is in providing a clearly structured studio course that provides the key skills in architecture and engineering, combined with an exciting range of optional courses that enable students to pursue their particular interests. The key emphasis throughout is on the importance of sustainable design.

Success in the third year of the Design degree leads to a Bachelor’s degree. Students who successfully complete the year and gain a sufficient grade may choose to leave with a Bachelor’s Degree or to proceed to the fourth year which forms the Master of Design Degree. Students may also choose at the end of the third year to change to other degrees such as the Master of Architecture Degree or Management Studies.


Studio is taught as a whole year group. Projects are chosen to provide opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the context of creative interdisciplinary design. As in first year, the projects set will usually be buildings, but this will not always be the case and students will also be set projects that might involve making objects, or  products. The projects will vary from year-to-year, but the themes and learning outcomes remain the same. Examples of studio themes in year three are:

Michaelmas Term   Composite Materials

The theme of this term is concrete, ceramics and composite materials. The studio is accompanied by lectures on the subject of concrete and other composite materials both in terms of their material properties and manufacture and of their structural design. Particular emphasis will be placed on research into sustainable forms of concrete and composite construction. As well as carrying out slumps tests and mixing concrete, students will carry out a project or projects in concrete which might involve making concrete pots or boats, or constructing and testing concrete shells or designing concrete frame buildings. By the end of the project the students will be able to demonstrate that they understand how to design concrete structures and its reinforcement and how to predict its structural behaviour.

Lent Term   Metals and Circularity

The theme of this term is metals in design and particularly the use of steel and its alloys. Students will receive lectures on steel manufacture and fabrication and may visit fabricators. They will learn how to weld and join steel and about the use of Eurocodes underpinning steel frame design. They will explore the embodied energy inherent in steel construction and the various approaches to mitigating this. They will design a building in steel, providing the necessary calculations and modelling to demonstrate its structural efficiency and the effect of seismic and wind loads on the structure. They will use the project to explore the issues around embodied energy, circularity and life-cycle costing.

Easter Term     Sustainable Design and Adaptive Reuse 

The final project of the undergraduate degree will involve the production of a sustainable building of reasonable complexity through adaptive re-use. The aim of this project will be to produce the most sustainable design possible. The project is meant to provide an opportunity for the students to demonstrate the range of skills and knowledge they have acquired throughout the course and forms an exciting end to the BA degree.


The professional skills course is shared with the Architecture tripos. The course is divided into two parts as in first year: a) Management Practice and Law and b) Communication Skills.

The Management Practice and Law course covers land and property law, intellectual property and patents, contract law, professional appointment contracts, professional negligence, limitations of liability, responsibilities under law of professionals and duties of care. It looks in detail at the Equalities Act and the laws around discrimination and accessibility. It explores the building regulations and planning law in more detail. It covers health and safety and risk management and the CDM regulations.  The course is assessed through workshops and coursework submitted at the beginning of the Lent and Easter Terms.

The Communication skills course aims to build on the skills learnt in second year. Students are taught about presenting in seminars and how to prepare a dissertation. Students are taught about BIM and parametric modelling, layering conventions, rendering software, digital photography animation and film.


Students get to choose five courses from a list of options. The list varies from year-to-year but is designed to enable students to pursue their particular interests. Where options are important for particular routes to accreditation this is indicated on the list. All options are suitable for architecture accreditation, but some options will be more suitable for those looking towards specialisms in structural engineering and materials science. The list is split into three parts: list A- subjects in history and theory; list B – integrated subjects; and list C- technical subjects. A lecture course can be in more than one list, and students must choose one course from each list. It is hoped that some courses may be shared with other Triposes.

History and Theory Courses are shared with the Architecture course. Students pick at least one from the list of courses offered to the architecture students. Subjects currently offered include:

  • current topics in urbanism
  • books on architecture and engineering
  • medieval modern
  • space and power
  • leaving colonialism behind
  • landscape and memory

Integrated subjects are more interdisciplinary or bridge the divide between science and the humanities. Students can pick from the same range of courses offered in second year and more advanced courses. They must pick at least one course from this list. These might include courses on subjects such as:

  • participatory design
  • introduction to robotics
  • automation and advanced fabrication techniques
  • inclusive design and accessibility
  • temporary shelters and disaster relief
  • artificial intelligence and design
  • circularity and design

Technical subjects explore the technical side of the subject. Students can pick from the same range of course offered in second year and more advanced courses.  They must pick at least one course from this list. These might include topics such as:

  • biomimetic design
  • modelling natural ventilation systems
  • advanced studies in Materials Science
  • natural materials and structures
  • sustainable façade design
  • advanced structural design
  • concrete engineering
  • water engineering
  • advanced geotechnical design