Architecture - Undergraduate vs. Postgraduate

22:52 PF Song 0 Comments

Having studied both undergraduate (Part 1) and postgraduate (Part 2) architecture courses at Oxford Brookes University, here are some of my observations and experiences.

Number of modules  
Part 1 :  
Part 2 : More freedom to choose in year 1 specialization units. In Year 2, only technology-integrated design and management-practice-law modules.

My favourite module
Part 1 : Dissertation about self-healing construction material. I love researching unconventional, interdisciplinary fields of architecture. And graphic design.
Part 2 : Building Physics in sustainable building unit - I love applied physics and calculations.
Technology-integrated design - Through model-making and drawings, I make my design feasible without losing its conceptual, artistic essence.

Scope of work and field trips
Part 1 : Many theoretical/historical studies. Design units vary in fields of architecture (eg: biophilic, parametric, vernacular). Field trips mostly in Europe.
Part 2 : More stress on advanced technology and professional practice. More international field trips (eg: Brazil, Cuba, US, South Korea, Japan, Singapore)

Teaching style
Part 1 : Go cray cray. Test, fail, repeat. Students are exposed to a huge variety of architectural conventions.  Often, students are guided closely on how to move forward in their design project.
Part 2 : Last chance to go cray. Maximum self-control given to students to manage their project. You are the designer, take charge, use your tutors as advisors. More practicality in the design.

Student community
Part 1 : Closer-knit and lively student environment in the studios. More direct interaction among students. Strong sense of camaraderie.
Part 2 : More independent and self-supporting working style. Many part-time students. Most people work at home.

Free time
Part 1 : Non-existent concept of time.
Part 2 : Wow, this much?

Approaching the end of the semester,
Part 1 : Can I get a life now?
Part 2 : Can I get a job with this?

Approaching the end of part 1 feels like getting lost in a maze and breaking down, questioning your choices in life. The moment you hand in the final assignment, Eureka! The fog dramatically lifts and all is clear, architecture is momentarily wiped from your cerebral cortex. You feel like Julie Andrews in the 'Sound of Music' - now you can roll down the summery grass in South Park as much as you want.

Days after, the feeling of being 'useless' kicks in and you are sucked into the insanity of job application. But there is so much more to do in life!

After years of toil and sweat, give yourself a break but never stop learning. Enjoy time with all the people that have supported you. Travel to expand your horizons beyond your definition of architecture. Take up new hobbies to make yourself a better person. Do a work placement to define your ambition in your further studies or career.

Nostalgia is starting to kick in in these final 2 months of my masters degree. I wish there is a restart button to be an architecture student all over again at Oxford Brookes University. It is a privilege to be a student - to fail and not be judged.

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