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Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MSc/MRes

These unique programmes approach architecture and urban design through the prism of people and space.

Space Syntax Architecture & Cities postgraduate degree The Bartlett School of Architecture

Register now for the Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities Open Day on 27 May 2020. 

About

How can buildings and cities be designed in direct relation to people? Developed and taught by UCL’s internationally renowned Space Syntax Laboratory, these programmes bring together the study of architecture and urbanism within a theoretical and analytical framework known as space syntax.

Our two space syntax Master's programmes centre around the idea that by studying buildings and cities as patterns of space, we can derive new insights into the relations between them and the individuals, communities and organisations that inhabit them. 

Students explore the fields of architecture and urbanism to create a greater knowledge of how complex architectural and urban systems work, and how spaces can be planned, designed and manufactured to create a better society.

This programme is available to study as either an MSc or an MRes.
 

Apply now – MSc

Apply now – MRes


Who are these programmes for?

We’re looking for students with a background in architecture and urban design, as well as graduates of other disciplines such as art history, history, planning, geography, anthropology or mathematics who wish to develop specialist knowledge of architecture and cities. 

These programmes offer students with a background in another discipline a route into understanding architecture and urban design and developing careers or research in the area. 


What do students learn?

Students learn the latest architectural theories alongside cutting-edge methods in space syntax architectural and urban analysis. Taught by leading practitioners, students acquire the knowledge and skills to research the social consequences of architecture and urban design decisions in practice, in research and in urban and architectural consultancy.

Students are equipped with the theoretical and practical knowledge about spatial, physical and human systems within the built environment, enabling them to conduct their own in-depth research, analysing patterns of space inhabited by individuals, communities and organisations.


Highlights

  • Learn about the pioneering theories, methods and techniques of space syntax, at the institute where the methodology was invented
  • Develop the knowledge and skills to analyse architectural and urban systems, determine their roles in creating a better society, and inform design processes
  • Work closely with peers and tutors to apply theoretical and analytical frameworks to practical case studies
This programme built upon my past experience as a designer, increasing the breadth of my analytical thinking in terms of spatial configuration, urban networks and human movement. 

Genevieve Shaun, Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities student, 2017 

I had an exceptional group of professors bringing together scientific and professional specialisms, along with excellent training in urban theories, spatial analysis and their creative integration with design thinking - all of which has changed enormously my career as a practising urban designer and researcher.”

Laura Narvaez Zertuche, Urban Designer, Foster + Partners
Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities graduate 

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Modules

MSc

Over the course of twelve months of study, students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits: 75 credits of compulsory modules, 45 credits of optional modules and 60 credits in the form of a dissertation.

Compulsory modules

Design as a Knowledge-Based Process (15 credits)

Module coordinators: Dr Sam Griffiths and Dr Sean Hanna

In this module, students are introduced to theories of design as a knowledge-based or evidence-based process, as well as a range of concepts that suggest how the nature of design itself may become the object of research. They explore contrasting perspectives in architecture through discussions about various topics including the issues of design practice, the nature of collaboration, machine intelligence and creativity. 

Buildings, Organisations and Networks (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kerstin Sailer

In this module, students establish a theoretical framework for the research and analysis of the relationship between architectural morphology, organisations and social networks in complex buildings such as hospitals, offices and laboratories. Through various London-based site visits, they consider a range of contemporary case studies, exploring themes such as emergent organisational behaviours, innovation and space usage.

Space Syntax Methodology and Analytical Design (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kayvan Karimi

Through a series of lectures, workshops and a group project, students gain an understanding of the methodology for the description and analysis of form-function relations in architecture at all scales. They are introduced to the techniques, software and research methods of Space Syntax in relation to pressing issues in the built environment and learn how to experiment and test design and spatial hypotheses, reflecting on the role of configuration in the design process. 

Architectural Phenomena (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Professor Sophia Psarra

In this theory-based module, students explore the evolution of ideas that have influenced architecture and its relationship to the city from the 1960s to the present. They learn to radically re-think canonical texts and contemporary ideas on how buildings and cities are produced, as well as the role of various agents in their production. 

Spatial Cultures (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Sam Griffiths

Drawing on theoretical perspectives from a range of disciplines, students learn how to research the relationship between space and society with an emphasis on urban scale. Through a range of case studies of different spatial cultures, they investigate the possibility of developing a distinctive spatial ontology of society.

Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MSc Dissertation (60 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kayvan Karimi

In this module, students complete a 10,000-word dissertation, which brings together all of their learning, knowledge and skills into one substantial project. Dissertation subjects are agreed upon with the Programme Director and assigned tutor, but often explore architectural, urban, environmental, transport, theoretical, social and spatial topics. 

Optional modules

Spatial Justice (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Professor Laura Vaughan

In this module, students examine the relationship between urban form and social outcomes.  They explore research on the role of the city in structuring social, economic and ethnic diversity, focusing on how urban design and planning intersect with social exclusion, patterns of crime, poverty, health and other societal issues. Students learn through a variety of methods including cross-disciplinary reading and guided viewing of film, TV and other media, with an emphasis on widening knowledge beyond the field of architecture and urban design.

Spatial Dynamics and Computation (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Tasos Varoudis

In this module students develop an understanding of computer simulation and analysis, with a focus on understanding the spatial dynamics that form the built environment. They learn the basics of computer scripting and the fundamentals of spatial computation, machine learning and visual agent simulation. They also explore the underlying principles of computation, representation, measurement and analysis of the spatial and architectural phenomena. 

Analytical Design Research Project (30 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kayvan Karimi

Using the knowledge learned from the Space Syntax Methodology and Analytical Design module, students complete both a group and individual research project on a topic of their choosing. Through a series of lectures and workshops, they are introduced to various research methods, including grounded qualitative research and quantitative descriptive research, as well as those from other disciplines such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), social anthropology and sociology. 

E-merging Design Research (30 credits)

Please note: This module will not be offered in the year 2020/21.

Module coordinator: Professor Sophia Psarra

This module introduces students to a studio-based model of working that integrates both architecture and urbanism. Through individual tutorials, crits, exhibitions, publications, workshops and feedback reviews, students engage with design as a form of research and a catalyst of for urban change.


MRes 

Over the course of twelve months of study, students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits: 75 credits of compulsory modules, 15 credits of optional modules and a dissertation to the value of 90 credits.

Compulsory modules

Design as a Knowledge-Based Process (15 credits)

Module coordinators: Dr Sam Griffiths and Dr Sean Hanna

In this module, students are introduced to theories of design as a knowledge-based or evidence-based process, as well as a range of concepts that suggest how the nature of design itself may become the object of research. They explore contrasting perspectives in architecture through discussions about various topics including the issues of design practice, the nature of collaboration, machine intelligence and creativity. 

Buildings, Organisations and Networks (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kerstin Sailer

In this module, students establish a theoretical framework for the research and analysis of the relationship between architectural morphology, organisations and social networks in complex buildings such as hospitals, offices and laboratories. Through various London-based site visits, they consider a range of contemporary case studies, exploring themes such as emergent organisational behaviours, innovation and space usage.

Spatial Cultures (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Sam Griffiths

Drawing on theoretical perspectives from a range of disciplines, students learn how to research the relationship between space and society with an emphasis on urban scale. Through a range of case studies of different spatial cultures, they investigate the possibility of developing a distinctive spatial ontology of society.

Principles of Analytical Design (30 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kayvan Karimi

Through a series of lectures and workshops, students learn the about the process and analysis of form-function relations in architecture at all scales, from the individual dwelling to the urban region. They are introduced to a range of Space Syntax research methods aimed at investigating spatial morphology, including quantitative and descriptive methods of spatial and configurational analysis and behavioural observation, as well as methods from other disciplines including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), social anthropology and sociology. Throughout the module, students undertake a group research project and an individual research project.

Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MRes Dissertation (90 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Kayvan Karimi

In this module, students complete a 15,000-word dissertation, which brings together all of their learning, knowledge and skills into one substantial project. With advice and guidance from their supervisors, who act as a sounding board for their ideas and a guide for their research, students develop an expertise in their chosen topic. Students may choose any topic for their dissertation, subject to the principal requirements of each piece of research, but the final topic is agreed upon with the Programme Director and assigned supervisor.

Optional modules

Spatial Justice (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Professor Laura Vaughan

In this module, students examine the relationship between urban form and social outcomes.  They explore research on the role of the city in structuring social, economic and ethnic diversity, focusing on how urban design and planning intersect with social exclusion, patterns of crime, poverty, health and other societal issues. Students learn through a variety of methods including cross-disciplinary reading and guided viewing of film, TV and other media, with an emphasis on widening knowledge beyond the field of architecture and urban design.

Spatial Dynamics and Computation (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Tasos Varoudis

In this module students develop an understanding of computer simulation and analysis, with a focus on understanding the spatial dynamics that form the built environment. They learn the basics of computer scripting and the fundamentals of spatial computation, machine learning and visual agent simulation. They also explore the underlying principles of computation, representation, measurement and analysis of the spatial and architectural phenomena. 


 Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MSc

Modes/duration

Full-time: one year
Flexible: two to five years

Entry requirements 

Normally a minimum of a lower second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an equivalent overseas qualification in an architectural or urban design related subject is usually required.

Application deadline 

Applications open for this programme on 01 November 2019 and close on 24 July 2020 for 2020 entry.

We strongly advise early application, as our programmes are over subscribed and competition is high.

Fees and funding

  • Tuition fee information can be found on the UCL Graduate Prospectus.
  • For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding section of the UCL website.

Download the programme information sheet (PDF)

 


Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MRes

Modes and duration

Full-time: one year
Part-time: two years
Flexible: three to five years

Entry requirements 

MSc
Typically a minimum of a second-class degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard is required.

MRes
Typically a minimum of an upper second-class degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard is required.

All applicants are required to send a 500-1000-word preliminary research proposal along with a personal statement to support their application.

Application deadline 

Applications for this programme close on 28 August 2020.

We strongly advise early application, as our programmes are over subscribed and competition is high.

Fees and funding

  • Tuition fee information can be found on the UCL Graduate Prospectus.
  • For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding section of the UCL website.

Download the programme information sheet (PDF)


Staff 

Programme staff

Dr Kayvan Karimi, Programme Director

Dr Kayvan Karimi is an experienced architectural and urban designer, and a director of Space Syntax Limited. He has worked extensively on projects including strategic city planning, large-scale urban master planning, urban conservation, revitalisation of historic centres and more. In recent years, Kayvan has been developing advanced methods for evidence-based design and planning of the built environment, from a micro to a macro scale. 

Dr Sam Griffiths, Associate Professor

Sam Griffithsresearch interests include the spatial cultures of industrial cities past and present, urban manufacturing, creative cities, processional culture, suburban spaces and Hillier and Hanson’s architectural theory of space. Sam is a previous director of Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MSc and has a strong pedagogical interest in the built environment as an interdisciplinary research domain.

Alan Penn, Professor in Architecture and Computing

Alan Penn is Director of UCL’s Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment and a director of Space Syntax Limited. He is one of the main developers of space syntax theory and methodology and one of the founders of the Space Syntax Laboratory. His current research interests are first at the interface between spatial analysis and virtual reality, and second in the evolution and design of large and complex buildings such as hospitals and laboratories.

Dr Sophia Psarra, Reader of Architecture and Spatial Design

Dr Sophia Psarra's research explores spatial morphology through computer modeling, the interaction between architecture and the user, de-industrialisation and urban regeneration, and design research. Her activities in these areas have resulted in publications, creative installations and design projects. As a practising architect, she has won first prizes in international architectural competitions and her work has been exhibited across Europe.

Dr Kerstin Sailer, Reader of Spatial and Social Networks

Dr Kerstin Sailer is a trained architect and has developed a business process examining links between space and effectiveness in the workplace at Spacelab Architects. Her research explores office buildings, universities, workplace environments, hospitals and schools. She is interested in the relationship between spatial configuration and usage processes, organisational theory and organisational behaviour, Social Network Analysis, and evidence-based design practices. 

Dr Tasos Varoudis, Senior Research Associate

Dr Tasos Varoudis is a professional architect and computing engineer with research focusing on hybrid architecture, computational analysis and machine intelligence. In the Space Syntax Laboratory, he is developing methodological and computational innovations which combine spatial data-driven models with machine learning and agent-based models. He is the lead developer of ‘depthmapX’ spatial network analysis software, the most widely used tool in space syntax research and practice.

Laura Vaughan, Professor of Urban Form and Society

Professor Laura Vaughan is Director of the Space Syntax Laboratory. Her research interests lie in the relationship between urban form and society and she has been principal/co-investigator for UK and EU funded research totalling over £6 million. Her interdisciplinary ‘Adaptable Suburbs’ research investigated London’s outer suburban evolution and she recently completed a collaborative project concerning community severance and walkability.

Other staff 

Occaisional teaching staff
  • Professor Phillip Steadman 
  • Ros Diamond 
  • Professor Lars Marcus
  • Dr Daniel Koch
  • Mr Tim Stonor
  • Professor Muki Haklay
  • Anna Sabina Rose
  • Max Martinez
  • Dr Falli Palaiologou
  • Dr Laura Narvaez Zertuche
  • Dr Beatrix Emo

Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MSc is also able to draw on the expertise of a wide range of other academics and guest lecturers who give talks and advice on student work. Students also benefit from expert guidance and support from the Space Syntax Laboratory’s doctoral research students, many of whom have substantial teaching and/or professional experience.

External examiners for the programme have in recent years included: Sue McGlynn, Sarah Chaplin and Gordana Fontana-Giusti.


Careers

The programmes equip graduates with a robust knowledge of the latest research methods, ideas and skills from a variety of disciplines. Students graduate with a scientific approach alongside an understanding of the most urgent social issues in architecture and urbanism today.

Graduates thrive in research-based, evidence-informed environments, planning and decision-making within the field of the built environment. Many graduates from both Master's degrees also continue their studies towards a PhD in the field.


Contacts

Programme Director: Kayvan Karimi
Postgraduate Admissions: Thea Heintz
Programme Administrator: Drew Pessoa

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