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Newcastle University SAPL MA in Architectural Theory and Criticism


MA in Architectural Theory and Criticism

Programme Overview
The MA in Architectural Theory and Criticism is a distinctive new masters programme that considers the relation between architectural criticism and urban, architectural and cultural theory. Whereas comparable programmes tend to focus either on architectural history and theory or upon critical theory per se, the MA_ATC explicitly thematises and thinks about the activity of criticism itself in its various manifestations, ranging from published essays to public demonstrations to new means of social and political engagement enabled by digital technologies. Students on the programme are encouraged to theorise and debate not just the content of critical positions but their fundamental relation to representational forms and new technological assemblages.

Aims of the Programme

In a period when familiar conceptualisations of criticism have themselves come under critical attack, this programme recognises an urgent need to rethink what we mean by architectural criticism, its modes, and its scope. Specifically, it resists the familiar gesture of opposing criticism to practice, understanding that the design process is itself internally patterned by the critical and that, equally, criticism is subject to its own conditions of practice. The MA in Architectural Theory and Criticism therefore is addressed not only to architectural scholars but also to designers who wish to develop their understanding of the role of criticism within and the critical effects of their own creative practice. While giving students the opportunity to develop knowledge and ideas through conventional seminar discussions and written projects, it also recognises that critical practices including writing are themselves interventions, and therefore asks students to actively find forms in which their work can engage in spatial and public realms. The MA_ATC consists of 180 credits across 12 months full time, and 24 months part time. In the first semester it aims to build core knowledge of the relationship between cultural theory, philosophy and architectural criticism, and in the modes through which criticism has been manifested, both historically and in the present. In the second and third semesters students identify and develop their own research into aspects of criticism. Part time students will negotiate their route through the programme with the Degree Programme Director. The 20-credit options that are built into the programme in both Semesters 1 and 2 allow students to take relevant modules that are offered elsewhere in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. This results in a highly distinctive constellation of choices for students on the Newcastle MA_ATC, which opens up to them resources available in the Faculty and allows them to tailor their study route in relation to their specific interests.

Newcastle University SAPL MA in Architectural Theory and Criticism

This programme appears at a time when the practice of architectural criticism seems to have stalled. Perhaps this was a result of the short-lived Post-Critical movement, or perhaps it was simply because Tafuris operative criticism painted critical operations in architecture into a corner, but the timing is now ideal to consider the possible roles of criticism within the discipline of architecture. A great strength of the programme is its concern with the potential modalities of criticism. No longer exclusively relegated to the territory of the written word, the potential for criticism to be creatively enacted is put on the table.

What they say:

Amy Kulper, University of Michigan

Modules and Credit Structure


Semester 1 (60 credits)

Cultural Theory and Architectural Criticism (ARC8101: 20 credits) Examines the relationship between positions in theory and criticism, considering how theoretical formulations from historical materialism to actor network theory and notions of postcriticality have shaped critical discourses in architecture. Critical Modalities (ARC8100: 20 credits) Studies the historical and contemporary cultural forms in which criticism has been manifested, analyses their effects, and speculates on future transformations. Optional Module (20 credits) Chosen from an approved list. This includes modules offered by the School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, the School of Arts and Cultures, and the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology.

Semester 2 (60 credits)

Case Study in Criticism Research Project (ARC8099: 40 credits) Students select a historical or contemporary case study in criticism (the work of a particular figure, a group, an event, a publication, an exhibition, etc.), and research and interpret its contexts, emergence and consequences. The research project is supported by a student-led seminar in which relevant texts and other material will be presented and discussed. Optional Module (20 credits) Chosen from an approved list. This includes modules offered by the School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, the School of Arts and Cultures, and the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology.

Semester 3 (60 credits)

Dissertation (ARC8102: 60 credits) Gives students the opportunity to develop an independent and original set of research questions, and formulate their own programme of in-depth study drawing on techniques and understanding developed in the previous modules. Emphasis is given to the dissertation as a critical intervention in its own right and to this end may take alternative forms such as a documentary film, submitted via DVD.

Entrance Requirements
Applicants should hold a good honours degree (normally 2:1) from a recognised university or awarding body in architecture or a related discipline e.g. Fine Art, Visual Culture, Cultural Studies, Literature, Geography etc. Students with lower qualifications may be accepted under specific circumstances.

Career Paths
The MA_ATC equips students with a wide understanding of contemporary and historical critical literatures and manifestations. For those who wish to be involved in a range of cultural industries (as writers, critics, publishers, curators, etc.), the programme provides a strong basis from which to develop careers. At the same time, active practitioners of various kinds (architects, artists, etc.) will find a programme that enriches their ability to critically reflect on their work and expands its effectiveness. For those interested in academic careers, the programme leads directly on to doctoral research.

Degree Programme Director - Dr Katie Lloyd Thomas Contact: katie.lloyd-thomas@ncl.ac.uk

Webpage: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/apl/study/postgraduate/taught/archtheory/index.htm Apply: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/