Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Postgraduate Open DayMeet us at our next Open Day on the 30 November.

Architecture: Professional Studies (MA/PgDip)

9 months (PgDip) (blended distance-learning) (full-time) / 2 years (PgDip) + 9 months (MA) (blended distance-learning) (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

This is a blended distance-learning course and is taught both in-person and via distance / E-Learning. See below for details of duration.

Mode of Study
Full-time Part-time
PgDip 9 months 2 years
Additionally, for the MA N/A 9 months

The course has an excellent reputation, and has received a Commendation from the RIBA Visiting Board.

The programme of study examines the professional aspects of practice as an architect, including the construction industry and role of the profession, development controls, construction law, and project and practice management. It provides a highly quality learning experience, with small cohorts, taught by a team of experts, including the course leader. It aims to inspire a keen interest in current issues relating to the profession, and expects a high degree of analytic rigour and in-depth exploration of the student’s selected areas of interest.

The Diploma is approved by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA (Part 3)), thus providing a route to registration as an architect in the UK. The second stage (the MA) can be taken separately by those already qualified, together with any of the individual modules, in order to develop expertise or to undertake research. The programme is directed by Professor Sarah Lupton, who is well know for her expertise in this field, having published many books used widely by construction and design professionals, and on post-graduate courses.

Course Aims

The overall aim of the scheme of study is for the student to acquire an in-depth understanding of the legal and economic aspects of architectural practice and construction procurement, and the related skills necessary to practice effectively on entry into the architectural profession. The scheme fosters the development of critical and independent judgement, and the ability to manage complex processes. It also develops a critical awareness of current problems in the related subject areas.

Diploma aims

The PGDip (Stage 1) aims:

  • To enable the student to develop a critical understanding of factors which control the construction industry and the procurement and management of construction projects. To provide the student with the knowledge and skill necessary to advise a client about the potential for and feasibility of a development proposal.
  • To introduce the student to concepts of construction law and dispute resolution, examining in detail the standard forms of contract used in the construction industry, and appropriate methods for their administration and the management of related risks. To discuss problems that frequently occur and the causes and resolution of contractual claims.
  • To enable the student to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to administer a small to medium sized contract, and to assist in the administration of a large construction contract. To enable the student to assess the merits of a claim, and to write an adjudicator's decision relating to a typical claim.
  • To examine methods of project planning, project management and quality control of construction projects of various sizes and forms from inception through to occupation. The aim is to equip the student with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage, within the context of architectural practice, a small to medium scale building project from inception through to completion. The knowledge and skills acquired will also enable the student to contribute to the work of a multi-disciplinary team in managing of a larger project.
  • To examine the role and status of the construction professional, including regulation of the profession, professional liability and professional indemnity insurance. To introduce the student to the range of professional services that the architectural profession offers, and the means of assessing and agreeing terms of engagement for a building project.
  • To explore methods of management of architectural practices of various sizes and forms, including the management of its financial and human resources, and the legislation related to these. To enable the student to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to manage a small architectural practice, and contribute to the management of a larger architectural practice
  • To examine the construction industry in selected other countries, including the role and regulation of the architectural profession, methods of procurement and standard forms of contract. To introduce the student to methods of procurement and managing of large scale international (ie cross-border) construction projects.

Masters aims

The MA (Stage 2) aims:

  • To enable the student to explore in-depth a selected topic in the field of professional studies. It is anticipated that in many cases the topic chosen will relate to a current issue or problem of concern to the profession, or will relate to leading edge professional practice, and that the results of the study will further knowledge and/or understanding in that area. The study may involve the collection and analysis of original data, or placing an original interpretation on existing data.

Special Features

This course is accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board, (ARB, UK).

Both the Diploma and Masters have RIBA/ARB recognition at Part 3 level.

Other distinctive features of the programme include:

Course Description

The course covers the legal and economic aspects of architectural practice and construction procurement, and the related skills necessary to practice effectively on entry into the architectural profession.

Course Structure

The Dip/MA comprises a 2-stage postgraduate scheme of study, which is undertaken while students are in an approved work placement. It is largely taught by distance-learning methods supplemented by short courses (normally three one-week courses, held in October, January and March). Activities carried out in the work placement contribute to the student’s learning experience, and are monitored by the School.

Stage 1 of the scheme leads to the qualification of Postgraduate Diploma and comprises six 20-credit modules (see below). All modules are compulsory and have been designed to promote progression through levels of difficulty and complexity of skills, knowledge and concepts in an enabling sequence

Stage 2 leads to a Masters degree. Students who proceed to the MA undertake a dissertation (60 credits) on a topic related to the taught modules and agreed by the scheme convenor.

 The Diploma can be pursued full-time or part-time. Full time takes one academic year, with full attendance at all three short courses, and attendance of two days for final assessment in June. For part-time, the course takes two academic years (three modules each year), with attendance at only part of each short course, and for final assessment at the end of the second year.

Core Modules

As part of Stage 1 (PgDip), students complete the following 20-credit modules:

    • Construction Industry in the UK
    • Construction Contract Law
    • Project Management
    • Professional Services
    • Practice Management
    • International Construction Procurement

For Stage 2 (MA), students complete the following 60-credit module:

    • Dissertation

 During the dissertation module, students are able to pursue in greater depth an aspect of the subject that interests them.

This course is taught while the student is in an approved work placement, and is taught largely by distance learning methods with the requirement to attend three short courses.

 Teaching, Resources and Facilities

The course is largely taught through distance learning methods, using Learning Central, a web-based virtual learning environment. Course notes and course work assignments are posted on the web site, and students submit their coursework via digital drop boxes.

The short courses play an important role in the teaching of the scheme. They include lectures, seminars, group work and face-to-face tutorials. They offer an opportunity for interaction between the students, and the exercises undertaken are designed to encourage the sharing of experience and knowledge gained in practice.

Students obtain support materials either via Learning Central (Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment) or from study packs specially developed for selected modules. All students are allocated a personal tutor. Additional support and advice is available where necessary from the School’s Senior Personal Tutor for Postgraduate Taught Students.

Teaching Methods and Assessment

Students are taught via a variety of methods and assessment techniques: 

Knowledge and understanding

The ‘knowledge’ component of the scheme is taught largely through directed private study. Students are given course notes on specific topics, which are also accessible via the website, and lists of further references. The web site includes information and papers on current topics and links to other useful sites. The private study is supplemented by lectures on the short courses by invited speakers.

The ‘understanding’ component of the scheme is developed primarily through undertaking course work, including the group work tasks undertaken on the short courses.


Knowledge and understanding is assessed summatively through essays, case studies, class tests and a professional interview. Formative feedback is provided through written tutor comments on interims submissions and through workshops and seminars on short courses.

Intellectual skills

The skills of reflection and evaluation are an important element in most of the course-work. In particular, the two case studies (Project Management and Practice Management) encourage the students to critically evaluate real-life situations, comparing what they find to what is considered recommended good practice.

Analytical skills are primarily developed through the exercises set on the Construction Contract Law module, ie the comparative study of standard contract forms and the adjudicator's decision. The adjudicator's decision requires the student to analyse a complex set of facts, reach an objective decision and to clearly explain the reasoning behind that decision.

Skills relating to the exercise of independent professional judgement are developed through the scenario based group exercises (Project Management and Professional Services) and the discussion and feedback on these.

The ability to exercise initiative and to take personal responsibility is developed through the professional experience evaluation and record, which require students to plan their work-based experience, to undertake the planned activities, and to critically reflect on the experience.

Research and writing skills are developed through essays, which form part of the coursework for several modules. Each of these essays focuses on different aspects of research and writing skills, and seminars on these are given on the appropriate short course. The essays are designed to be progressively challenging and to bring the student to the level of skills necessary to tackle the Masters dissertation. The International Construction Procurement essay, in particular, requires the majority of the skills that will be necessary for the Masters dissertation, and as it takes place immediately prior to the Dissertation, forms a useful means of gauging whether the student is interested and able to proceed to Stage 2. Guidance on research methodologies and writing skills are included in the briefing packs and available on the web sites. All the essays involve staged submissions on which the student is given feedback.


Intellectual skills are assessed summatively through case studies, the adjudicator’s decision, scenario based group exercises and class tests, the professional experience evaluation and through essays. In addition to contributing to the assessment of professional judgment, the professional interview also assesses the ability to communicate clearly and to deal with stressful situations in a mature and professional manner.


Discipline-specific skills, including practical skills

Discipline-specific skills are taught through course work and through the work placement experience.

Several of the coursework exercises are designed to focus on specific professional skills. The students receive written guidance on how to execute these. In one case the exercise is initially undertaken on the short courses, where the students work in groups to develop a strategy for the exercise, but are is completed and submitted individually.

Other discipline-specific skills are acquired through the work placement. The students are given guidance as to what these might be, but are required to devise their own personal development programme and to submit this early on in the course. The development is monitored through staged reports by the student, through the office visit, and through the department's ongoing links with the student's office mentor.


Discipline-specific skills are assessed summatively through case studies, the professional experience evaluation and through essays. In addition to contributing to the assessment of professional judgment, the professional interview also assesses the ability to communicate clearly and to deal with stressful situations in a mature and professional manner.

Feedback is provided through written tutor comments on interim submissions, through workshops and seminars on short courses, and at individual tutorials on the short courses or in the student’s practice.

Resources and Facilities

Students are required to find their own work placement, and also to fund travelling to and accommodation for the three short courses. Students should possess a laptop, with word-processing software, and an internet connection at their place of study. Any other equipment or resources will be provided by the School. 

Teaching Staff

Skills Acquired

Stage 1: Diploma

Upon completion of the scheme a typical student will be able to:

  • identify and critically evaluate sources of information (including current research work), relating to the construction industry both in and outside the UK
  • plan and execute the work necessary to further knowledge and/or understanding in a selected field, and communicate the results of the study clearly and in a manner which would be accessible to the profession and other researchers
  • analyse complex situations and exercise independent judgement in reaching decisions regarding those situations
  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility in managing tasks at a professional level
  • plan his or her own continuing professional development and critically reflect on personal progress

Stage 2: Masters

Upon completion of the scheme a typical student should be able to:

  • critically evaluate current understanding and research in the selected field of study
  • select and propose appropriate methodologies for tackling the selected field of study
  • plan and execute the work necessary to further knowledge and/or understanding in the selected field
  • evaluate and communicate the results of the study clearly and in a manner which would be accessible to the profession and other researchers.

Discipline-specific, including practical skills

Upon completion of the scheme a typical student will be able to:

  • undertake a comprehensive analysis of the feasibility of a proposed development project
  • propose, with detailed reasons, an appropriate procurement route for a given project, including appropriate contractual arrangements and the professional appointments required and, with respect to the architectural services, appropriate terms of appointment and fee arrangements
  • coordinate the work of a project team for a small project, including the coordination of the design process, the integration of the team, and the administration of the construction contract
  • contribute to the management of a larger project within an inter-disciplinary team, including the ability to work within a team
  • contribute in a significant way to the management of an architectural practice

Career Prospects

On completion of the course graduates will be able to register with the Architects Registration Board and therefore use the title ‘architect’ in the UK. As the profession of architecture is covered by the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC, registration also gives the graduate the right to register in other EU member states. UK architectural qualifications are generally valued worldwide.

The course has strong links with architectural practice, which can (informally) help students career prospects.

Entry Requirements

Architecture degrees that have been prescribed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB)of the UK at Part 1 and Part 2 levels; or evidence of registration as an architect in another EU member state. Occasionally exceptions may be made for those intending to sit the Prescribed Examination with the ARB.

If applying for full-time study, at least 12 months work experience in an architects practice, or other approved construction industry firm.

If applying for part-time study, the student should normally have secured a work placement in an architects practice, or other approved construction industry firm.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your competency. For this course, applicants should acheive 6.5 IELTS. More information and conversion tables can be found on the English Language Requirements webpage. 

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Additionally, we are considering developing a new version of this course with a wider range of acceptable academic entry requirements; those interested should contact the course leader using the contact information below.


Decisions are made on a continuous basis throughout the year on the basis of your written application and the references received.


For further information, please see the Financial Support pages of the School website.

Tuition Fees 2016/17

Fees quoted are for the academic session 2016/17. For programmes lasting more than one year, tuition fees for subsequent years of study are subject to an increase of no more than 4.5% per year.

  UK & EU International
Full-time PgDip: £2,850
MA: n/a
PgDip: £5,361
MA: n/a
Part-time PgDip: £1,245
MA: £1,245
PgDip: £2,682
MA: £2,682
Deposit n/a Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Carys Meredith  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 9693 



More information


Contact us