In order to earn an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (Projective Cities), candidates have to make a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the field. They have to demonstrate proficiency and rigour in research methodologies and design methods, and an adequate knowledge of the subject context, literature, and precedents. This is demonstrated through an integrated designed and written Dissertation, the final and most substantial piece of work in the programme, which students develop independently but under the close guidance of their supervisor(s), programme staff, and specialist consultants as needed.
The ideas and agendas of the Dissertation are concurrently developed through writing and design, and the designed and written parts of the Dissertation are assessed as one piece of work. Design research is to be complemented by written and theoretical research (ca. 15,000 words), and both should discuss the histories, theories, instruments, and practices underlying the dissertation project, as well as describe the research methods employed. The Dissertation further needs to develop a comprehensive design proposal and define a clear design methodology. It is therefore expected that students define and reason the overlaps and limits of writing and design in their Dissertation. Part of the dissertation challenge is to clarify the constitution of design research and how written research is complementary to and integrated with it, i.e. how a written dissertation can effectively utilise design methodologies and outcomes, and how a design proposal can benefit from and is enriched by written research.
The Dissertation must further define a clear research problem that is of disciplinary relevance and contributes to knowledge. Based on it, the Dissertation will articulate, as set out by the programme and the studies during Year 1, a specific research agenda that deals with the relationship between the different scales of the city and its architecture. This should be formulated as two research questions, one that articulates a clear urban hypothesis and another that formulates a related design problem.