The MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (Projective Cities) is a globally unique graduate programme at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London. It is designed as a stand-alone, terminal degree (MPhil), but the training in research methods and thesis work offers to many a structured way into a PhD. Founded in 2010, the programme has a very successful record of enabling students to follow a diverse career in practice, teaching and further academic study.
Projective Cities is divided into a Taught and Research Year:
The Taught Year 1 has three academic terms and is organised around seminar courses, design studios, academic writing courses and workshops (Term 1 and Term 2). These introduce the pedagogy and methodologies of the programme and prepare students for the development of a research topic and Dissertation Proposal in the Thesis-Studio (Term 3). Starting in Term 3, the dissertation work accounts for 60% of the credits in the programme. Seminar courses provide the theoretical foundation and research methods required for the analysis of architecture and urbanism. They examine the histories, theories, instruments, and practices associated with their conception, design, and formation. All seminars are thematically and instrumentally integrated with design studios and complemented by skills workshops and academic writing courses that explore the same themes through analytical, design, and writing exercises.
The Research Year 2 has two longer terms (Term 4 and 5) and is fully dedicated to the development of an individual thesis project under the close supervision of the programme staff. The year ends with the submission of a fully integrated designed and written Dissertation.
All work in Projective Cities is individual but students have regular opportunities to discuss their work with their peers and staff from the programme as well as other post-graduate programmes. Everyone has a work space in the programme’s studio, enabling a close exchange between students from Year 1 and Year 2.
The student to staff ratio in Projective Cities is very low and students typically have 2-3 individual tutorials a week in addition to group seminars and workshops. The programme is very intense and personal, with intakes so far having been limited to up to 8 students per year.
All students also become an active part of the unique AA School in the centre of London, which was founded in 1847. A community of approximately 750 students and 250 teachers and staff make up the most international architecture school in the world. Every year nearly 90 per cent of its full-time students come to the AA from abroad to be part of a global debate and exchange of architectural ideas. Students are able not only to continuously interact with students and teachers from other parts of our school, but also with the unparalleled range of visitors and participants in the AA’s Public Programme, the world’s largest, year-long programme of public events – exhibitions, members’ events, lectures, seminars, conferences, book launches and publications – dedicated to contemporary architectural culture, the arts and design. In addition, London is a metropolis with a vast number of globally leading cultural and educational institutions with their own public programmes that are available to students at the AA.