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Department of Architecture



The emphasis in the second year is on using the skills gained in first year to explore in greater depths the key issues facing those working in the design of build environment  today.

In the history and theory courses in second year students can choose from a variety of topics and thus begin to pursue those areas that interest them most. They will explore the issues surrounding the current practice and future role of the architect in society.

In studio and the technical lecture courses in second year students are expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the technical aspects of architecture required for accreditation. They are expected to be able to show that they understand the principles behind sustainable design and that they understand how to design buildings that are structurally stable and environmentally sustainable. They will understand and demonstrate in the designs their knowledge of the issues around safety, resilience, accessibility and fire engineering, giving them the technical skills required for the Part 1 ARB/RIBA accreditation.


Second Year aims to build on the skills acquired in first year. 2D and 3D modelling skills are improved, and digital drawing (AutoCAD) skills are introduced and developed, and students are expected to produce designs that more successfully incorporate social, constructional and environmental aspects and engage with more sophisticated theoretical and conceptual agendas. The year considers the current development issues impacting on one UK neighbourhood - rural, suburban or urban – through projects at a variety of scales.

There is a particular emphasis on the technical aspects of design in this year, with designs demonstrating an understanding of building construction, structures, accessibility, fire safety, and environmental design and the costing of building projects. Studio projects in this year relate to the technical lecture courses and very often the coursework set in those courses will relate directly to the projects the students are undertaking. Project briefs vary, but in general students can expect to produce one building design each term, each varying in scale, but in general one small, one medium and open large-scale piece of architectural or urban design. Projects in the past have included theatres, galleries, medical centres, workshops, social housing, temporary emergency shelters, agricultural research centres, and co-housing. As in first year, the projects and topics vary according to the expertise and research of the teachers involved.

Studio projects are handed in and presented digitally at the end of each term and count for 50% of the overall marks.


The professional skills course is shared with the Design 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 types of architectural and engineering practices. It looks at the legal and ethical responsibilities of architects and engineers working in building and design practice and how to set up and run architectural practices including marketing and basic accounting procedures. It introduces tort and contract law, planning and building regulation, listed building consent and basic employment law. It looks at the basic laws surrounding data protection, patents and intellectual property. 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 first year. Students are taught about research methods and building up bibliographies.  Students are taught how to use 3D modelling in CAD and rendering and visualisation. They are taught how to use laser-cutting, 3D printing and woodworking tools to make models. The course is assessed through workshops.


The Materials part of this course aims to build on the first year and explores in more depth the methods of analysis used in Materials Science. It explores in more depth the structures of materials and the way the choice of materials affects design and looks at mechanisms of chemical change, decay, and failure. The course will continue to explore the range of materials available for design, their chemical and physical structure and how materials are chosen for particular purposes.

The Fabrication part of this course explores the basics of façade engineering and building envelope design. The course is assessed through workshops and coursework submitted at the beginning of the Lent and Easter Terms.


Structural Design looks at the choice of various structural buildings systems available and their relative merits. The course looks at how choices are made in structural design between frames and load-bearing walls, the relative merits of steel and concrete, timber and masonry construction. The issues surrounding foundations are discussed and the various options available. The courses also looks at issues of resilience and design for protection against earthquakes, flooding and fire. The course aims to give students a good understanding of the key issues involved in structural design and confidence in choosing appropriate systems for particular building projects.


In the Second Year Environmental Design course students can expect to gain an understanding of the fundamental scientific principles underlying the thermal and acoustic behaviour of buildings alongside with key issues of sustainability in architecture. They will also look at lighting and ventilation. Broadly the course examines these phenomena and introduces students to a range of technologies and analysis techniques for designing comfortable indoor environments. Students will be challenged to apply these techniques and explore the role light, energy, and sound can play in shaping architecture.

At the end of the course the students will be able to: understand and apply the scientific principles regarding energy, light, heat ventilation and sound in the design of buildings and be able to carry out simple calculations; evaluate the costs and benefits of a range of technologies for creating comfortable indoor environments; conduct iterative design analysis optimized to climate, building energy use, and daylighting; and build the knowledge for critically examine concepts of environmental design of a building.


In the Second Year, students develop their understanding of history and become better acquainted with recent urban and architectural theories in a wider cultural context. Courses in second year focus on the way in which cultural, philosophical, political and social ideas influence the design of buildings and the development of cities in the west and other parts of the world. In conjunction with studio, second year courses in History and Theory carefully address questions about physical and social contexts and the ways in which buildings fit in and respond to them.

There is a choice of at least four courses in each term. Students are encouraged to attend all the courses but choose two courses each term to be assessed on. Each course is assessed by an essay: these are handed in at the beginning of the Lent and Easter Terms.

These courses branch out from survey courses in first year and provide students with opportunities to explore different kinds of history and theory in greater depth and specific thematic focus. Courses change from year-to-year. The following were this year’s courses:

  • Theories in Twentieth Century Architecture
  • Studies in City Planning and Urban Design
  • Culture of Images and Film
  • Acting Through Architecture
  • Architectural Representation
  • Gardens and Landscape
  • Architecture and Gender
  • Construction History