Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Critical Practice – Theory
Code LARC504
Coordinator Ms J Muszbek
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 7 FHEQ Whole Session 20


The lecture series introduces a range of theoretical frameworks to conceptualise the profession and discipline of architecture, exploring both established and cutting-edge thinking with the aim of enhancing your judgment in understanding how contemporary architecture is shaped by knowledge and ideas. We have a Book Club where we will discuss three key texts in detail.

By triangulating between the worlds of theory and practice we aim to develop your critical understanding of the agency of the architect in relation to others in the construction industry and creative economy, and the value architectural design skills can bring to the built environment and other fields. The manifesto is your opportunity to articulate a personal definition of your professional purpose, making conscious ambitions about your future trajectory, and encouraging commitment to an evolving framework or map in order to strategise a route to it. You will need to read, listen and research subject areas and t hemes in order to place yourself within the evolving network of practices.

We ask you to interrogate various past, present and possible future forms of practice through reflections on lectures, seminars, informal and formal meetings and discussions with project teams, interviews, and so on to produce a manifesto: a sustained piece of writing of 3,000 words outlining your personal direction for architectural practice, with reference to professional, ethical and organisational influences. You are creating a piece of architectural culture.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Interpret the influence of history and theory on the spatial, social and technological aspects of architecture

(LO2) Appraise the nature of professionalism and the duties and responsibilities of architects to clients, building users, constructors, co-professionals and wider society

(LO3) Relate the role of the architect to the larger design team and construction industry, with reference to current and emerging methods and trends in construction

(LO4) Assess different organisational structures for operating ethically and successfully in practice, demonstrating knowledge of the management and business aspects of running both an architect’s office and architectural projects, within the context of a changing construction industry

(LO5) Synthesize wide-ranging research to compose clear, logically argued and original written work that advocates a position in relation to architectural theory, culture and design

(LO6) Determine individual learning needs and understand the personal responsibility required to prepare for qualification as an architect

(S2) Research & information literacy skills: source, critically evaluate and attribute information with clarity and rigour

(S3) Communication skills: express ideas clearly, as well as listen to, present, challenge and defend ideas effectively both orally and in writing to meet the expectations of a professional working environment

(S6) Critical thinking skills: open-mindedness, critical awareness, ability to question, reflect, propose



The two adjacent Critical Practice modules create a critical collision between speculation about architecture and speculating within architecture. This premise is at the heart of the LSA philosophy: that the dialogue between the process of designing and the trajectory of practising is common to the education of an architect at all stages of their career.

Commencing with a briefing at the start of the year, the module is principally progressed through two lecture series, which present students with a diverse spectrum of inputs. The student’s personal direction for the Critical Practice Manifesto is developed through seminars and tutorials.

Lecture Series One
Methods and Models, led by Ruth Lang

By examining the activity and outcome of architectural production, this lecture series seeks to uncover and propose different models of practice and praxis. It will look at established modes as well as those in the margins, in order for students to gain an underst anding of where they might fit in, where their agenda lies and how they wish to operate.
Methods and Models aims to unpack and appraise a number of alternative, often radical, approaches to architecture. Key to this is developing an understanding of the balance between received knowledge and self-conscious design direction and having an intuitive sense of ‘designerly ways of knowing’.

Lecture Series Two
Humanity and Planet, led by Peter Buchanan

We are in a period of massive change brought on by many factors including technological developments, systemic breakdown (most obviously in climate change) and shifts in human values. The mechanistic reductionism and fragmentation of knowledge into specialist silos that characterised the modern age is proving inadequate to the complexly interlinked nature of the problems we face.
Drawing on contemporary modes of thought that have yet to penetrate architectural thinking, this lecture series will offer stu dents tools to better understand and deal with forthcoming challenges. It will introduce a 21st century strain of thought/theory, which includes developmental thinking and Integral theory, to provide a rigorous, inclusive and synthesising framework to go beyond Systems Holism and other modes of thought often mistaken for the leading edge of contemporary thought.This framework will provide the critical leverage to understand and assess current and future developments in ideas and architecture. It will thereby provide an expanded view of sustainability that deals with the subjective psycho-cultural issues (from whence will come the motivation to at last take effective action) as well as the very necessary objective issues of technology and ecology that are the current focus of attention.

Indicative lecture structure –

1. Understanding and participating in change
2. Integral theory and an expanded approach to sustainability
3. Transcend and include the past 4. Urbanism and the neighbourhood, community and connection
5. Current conundrums, redefinitions of creativity, design and purposes of architecture

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Students will learn through the following range of teaching and events –

• A briefing introducing the key learning principles of the module.
• Lectures from a range of voices, such as from practitioners, academics, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.
• Seminars for the discussion of lecture and reading-list content and class presentations of work in progress.
• One-to-one tutorials.

Scheduled learning and teaching –

Description – Briefing, Lecture series: Methods and Models, Lecture series: Humanity and Planet, Seminars, Tutorials
Learning hours – 24% – 48 hours

Guided independent study –

Description – Directed activities and self- managed learning and extensive placement experience
Learning hours – 76% – 152 hours

Total Learning Hours for the Module – 200 hours

Attendance – 100%

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 48

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 152


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Manifesto – Final submission in the form of a written manifesto (3000-4000 words) Resit available – Yes, capped at the pass mark of 50% Coursework – Students investigate and interrogate various pas    100       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.