Fire Safe Design MArch

London, Bloomsbury

Become an architectural designer who can inspire a new wave of elegant urbanism in the 21st century. Our programme equips you with the knowledge and specialist skills to address the urgent challenges of our time, including climate and biodiversity crises, and lead the charge towards achieving net-zero carbon buildings through fire-safe designs. Embrace the complexities in building projects as opportunities for innovation and drive transformative change in the built environment towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

MArch Fire Safe Design is a 12-month specialist postgraduate degree, or 24-month part-time.

The Fire Safe Design MArch programme at UCL is a timely response to the evolving landscape of architectural practice and the pressing need for enhanced fire safety awareness. 

In an era where governments are increasingly calling upon architectural professionals to shoulder the responsibility of fire safety in design and advocating for an elevated emphasis on this vital area within architectural education, our programme equips students with specialised skills and knowledge. Designed for individuals with a background in architecture, this programme empowers you to become a designer capable of tackling complex building projects while integrating fire-safe design principles and fostering fire awareness.

Throughout the programme, you will delve deep into the intricacies of fire engineering and explore the tools at the disposal of specialist fire engineers that can be seamlessly incorporated into your design processes. This unique blend of architectural and fire engineering knowledge equips you to lead design teams, guiding projects from their inception to the detailed resolution of buildings and urban designs. Our programme does not just address the immediate need for fire safety; it also aligns with the global imperative to transition towards a zero-carbon future, emphasising sustainability and safety as the cornerstone of architectural innovation.

As an aspiring architect, you will discover that some design approaches are inherently safer than others, and fire-safe design can catalyse a new wave of elegant urbanism in the 21st century. This programme offers a dynamic educational environment where ethical responsibility and innovative design converge, ultimately shaping graduates into leaders who can create a safer and more sustainable built environment for future generations.

Who this course is for

Prospective students interested in applying to the Fire Safe Design MArch programme at UCL should possess a fervent motivation to pioneer sustainable architecture while comprehensively integrating fire safety as a pivotal design element and strategic consideration. The ideal candidates should exhibit a strong penchant for advancing their professional expertise through meticulous technical design and possess a penchant for critical thinking, always ready to challenge conventional norms and practices within the field. Moreover, they should demonstrate an innate ability to think creatively, generating unique architectural solutions that align seamlessly with defined project briefs.

This programme warmly welcomes both qualified architects seeking to enhance their expertise and those from diverse backgrounds, such as engineering graduates, aspiring to cultivate specialised knowledge in fire-safe design or lay a solid foundation for further research in this dynamic field.

What this course will give you

Discover unparalleled educational opportunities at UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering. The Fire Safe Design MArch programme offers a multitude of benefits for aspiring architects and designers. 

Delivered by the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geomatic Engineering, students have the unique advantage of access to cutting-edge facilities and resources. This includes dedicated spaces for drawing and prototyping, situated in close proximity to complementary disciplines such as civil engineering, computer science, architectural computation, environmental design, and performance design. This interdisciplinary environment enriches the learning experience, allowing students to draw inspiration and insights from a wide range of fields, fostering a holistic understanding of fire-safe design.

Throughout the programme, students acquire advanced knowledge and skills in fire-safe design, drawing from multidisciplinary theories spanning architectural design, human behaviour, and the fundamentals of fire science. This comprehensive approach equips graduates with a deep understanding of fire safety as a core strategic consideration in architecture, enabling them to address contemporary challenges in the field. 

The programme’s commitment to nurturing creativity empowers students to develop their unique design visions, with a significant emphasis on integrating fire safety as a pivotal design variable. As governments increasingly demand heightened responsibility for fire safety in architectural practice and a more comprehensive education in this area, this programme positions its graduates as leaders in the dynamic and evolving architectural landscape. 

The programme enjoys the strong support of Jane Duncan, former President of the RIBA, who leads the RIBA committee on fire safety, further reinforcing its relevance and credibility in the field.

The foundation of your career

Governments are increasingly urging architectural practices to prioritise fire safety in design and academic institutions to enhance their teaching in this critical area. 

The Fire Safe Design MArch programme responds to this need by equipping graduates with the tools to thrive in this evolving environment. With the dedicated support of Jane Duncan, former President of the RIBA and leader of the RIBA committee on fire safety, our graduates are well-positioned for success. 

Upon completing our programme, our graduates may embark on diverse and promising career journeys. Many seamlessly integrate into the workforce, securing positions in architectural firms, consultancies, construction companies, and government bodies. Armed with a comprehensive skill set and profound knowledge, our graduates take on pivotal roles across various sectors, driving forward projects, shaping decisions, and contributing to the evolution of the architectural landscape. 

This degree not only opens doors to a myriad of employment opportunities but also charts a clear and impactful trajectory for a rewarding career dedicated to enhancing fire safety and architectural excellence.


We are in a fast-moving environment where governments are pressing for architectural practice to take responsibility for fire safety in design and for schools of architecture to significantly increase their teaching in this area.

The programme has the express support of Jane Duncan, Ex-President of the RIBA, who leads the RIBA committee on fire safety.

Employment opportunities will occur:

  • In architectural practice as specialists on design teams, especially in the context of complex buildings.
  • In architectural education as specialist teachers.
  • In companies and research organisations looking at components and complex assemblies.
  • In specialist consultancies.

Graduate Attributes:

  1. Ability to generate complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural issues and originality in the application of subject knowledge to include a detailed understanding of fire safe design.
  2. Understanding of fire safe design in the context of the construction industry, including the designers role in the processes of procurement and building production and under legislation.
  3. Problem solving skills, professional judgement, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances.


UCL offers an enriching environment for networking and professional growth. Engage with peers, industry experts, and faculty members who share your passion for excellence. Through collaborative group projects, seminars, workshops, and industry partnerships, you'll forge connections that extend beyond the classroom. 

These networking opportunities provide insights into real-world challenges, offer chances to learn from industry leaders, and pave the way for potential internships and job placements. Your interactions within this vibrant community will not only enrich your learning experience but also establish a valuable network that can shape your future in the architecture arena.

Teaching and learning

The Fire Safe Design MArch programme is designed to foster a dynamic and comprehensive educational experience.

The programme employs a balanced approach, with 50% of the teaching centred around design-based exploration, where students actively investigate ideas through practical design projects. Working in small groups of 2 to 3 individuals, with individual assessment, students benefit from weekly meetings with dedicated design tutors who are specialist design architects. These tutors are further complemented by experts who provide specialised tutorials in various settings, including 1:1 sessions and group seminars, ensuring a rich learning environment

The remaining 50% of the program is delivered through a diverse mix of workshops (skills modules), lectures, seminars, and 1:1 tutorials. This multifaceted approach ensures that students receive a well-rounded education, encompassing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. 

Written coursework in term 1 will be given formative assessment as tasks are submitted followed by summative marking at the end of the module.

Skills modules will include mock quizzes to test knowledge, followed by open-book quizzes (3 in total, per module). 

Design work is given formative assessment at interim design reviews. Summative assessment takes place at a portfolio examination at the end of the module.

The Thesis will be given formal interim feedback when a formal draft is submitted five weeks before the final submission, after which a summative assessment will be made.

Students enrolled in the programme should anticipate a weekly workload averaging around 40 hours. During the initial two terms, full-time students can typically expect between 3 to 6 contact hours per teaching week, which encompass lectures, workshops, and tutorials. In the third term, students will focus on their individual design projects and theses, with regular tutorials to support their progress. Beyond the scheduled sessions, students are strongly encouraged to allocate up to 40 hours to self-directed study, a pivotal element in their educational journey that complements classroom instruction and enriches their understanding of the subject matter.

This balanced approach empowers students to develop strong independent learning skills while benefiting from structured guidance and instruction.


You will commence the programme with an introduction to the role that fire has played in shaping our buildings and cities and along with the way that levels of fire risk is linked with social inequalities and deprivation. The introductory module will start with a description of the chemical and physical behaviour of fire and smoke. The module will include reference to the way that legislation in this area has developed over time. Coursework will be based on case studies.

At the same time, you will begin the first of two skills classes that will introduce you to an understanding of the engineering concepts that underlie fire safe design.

These include the appropriate choice of materials and both passive and active technologies to give structural fire protection and means of escape. The skills classes will develop in complexity over terms 1 and 2 to include the mathematical representation of fire risk and modes of simulating the behaviour of fire, smoke, and the escape of people.

Your main mode of gaining the required skills and abilities necessary in this field will be based in two major design projects that will commence during term 1 and finish during the following summer.

One of these will be a project for a tall multifunctional tower, the other will be a project for a large multifunctional place of assembly, such as a theatre. The first project will be on a site in the UK and the second will be on an overseas site where there are different construction and fire regulations.

You will work in groups (but produce individual final portfolios) to generate these and then to evaluate them from a fire safety standpoint. You will study how both strategic and detailed fire safety considerations affect the nature of the design and the, sometimes-uncomfortable, relationship between fire safety and energy conservation in this context. You will examine the relationship between relevant construction legislation and the design strategies that are being investigated. You will also investigate the role of building procurement in the context of fire safety of these strategies. Your final designs will be evaluated from both a design resolution and a fire safety standpoint.

In term 3, you will prepare a personal thesis. By then you will be encouraged to pick a particular subject area that is related to fire safe design. The thesis can be undertaken as a predominantly design based study or a written study as is appropriate to the subject that has been chosen.

In the first year of the part-time programme of study, you will complete Contextual Theory for Fire Safe Design, Skills for Fire Safe Design 1, and Skills for Fire Safe Design 2. 

In the second year, you will complete Design Study 1, Design Study 2, and Fire Safe Design Thesis. 

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MArch in Fire Safe Design.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £17,300 £8,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400 £17,200

Additional costs

All students are required to pay a fee deposit of £2,000 for this programme.

We estimate that students spend between £250-£500 on specialist materials throughout the programme. All students work differently so costs incurred depend on the approach they take to the brief given. The school encourages students to use recycled materials in their models and presentations, not only is it sustainable, but also cost effective and potentially innovative. The school also offers subsidies for exhibition costs.  

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at accommodation and living costs.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Brown Family Bursary

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: £15,000 (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

UCL East London Scholarship

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,700 stipend ()
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

In addition to fulfilling the necessary academic prerequisites, the personal statement serves as a pivotal aspect of your application. It offers a platform to align your motivations for selecting this program with its offerings. When evaluating your application, we are interested in understanding:

  • why you want to study Fire Safe Design at graduate level.
  • why you want to study Fire Safe Design at UCL.
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme.
  • in what ways you think your academic, clinical or professional background might help you meet the demands of this programme.
  • how you think this degree might fit into your academic, clinical or professional career plans.

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

While applications are accepted until the deadline, it is advisable to submit your application early due to the competitive nature of placements. The process typically takes around four weeks from submission to receiving an offer letter. For international applicants seeking visas, we recommend applying in advance to secure the necessary CAS number within the required timeframe. Your application journey is a significant step towards a rewarding educational experience at UCL.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.