Course Overview

You will benefit from the expertise of specialist practitioners and lecturers who provide you with a supportive environment to develop the fundamental skills needed to embark on a career in the field. The foundation programme will prepare you for undergraduate study in architecture at Manchester School of Architecture. We will help you develop your personal and academic skills, expose you to various communication and presentation techniques, show you how to understand and analyse project briefs and conceptualise design solutions, as well as giving you an insight into the practice of architecture. The programme culminates in an architectural design studio project providing excellent preparation for learning at degree level.You will be fully immersed into life at Manchester School of Architecture; working with fellow students when the opportunities arise and culminating your studies with a design studio project which relates to those undertaken by current students.

What's more, you'll be inspired by the world-famous city of Manchester - the industrial revolution birthplace turned 21st century metropolis - and its vibrant, contemporary and innovative architecture scene.

Manchester is a showcase for recent regeneration and historic context, much of which has been designed with the involvement of our current students and graduates.  

The city recognises the value of high-quality design, together with innovative and pragmatic approaches to resolving practical issues.


  • We're ranked 5th in the world and 2nd in the UK for Architecture (QS 2023 World University Rankings by Subject).
  • Gain an insight into the practice of Architecture and enhance your personal and academic skills needed for undergraduate study in the field.
  • Benefit from an ideal and accessible transition between School and University, or to support a change in career, you will gain expert support in developing design portfolios and first-hand insights into Architecture as a career path.
  • Successful completion of the Foundation guarantees you a place on the BA (Hons) Architecture degree course at Manchester School of Architecture.
  • Take advantage of facilities across two campuses, The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, as you study at the innovative collaboration between the two - Manchester School of Architecture (MSA).
  • Enjoy automatic and free membership of the MSSA, the UK's largest student society of architecture.


4 years (full-time)

Teaching and Learning

You will be introduced to learning at Higher Education through a series of supported activities and workshops. Project-based learning is the basis of architecture education, and the studio is where this learning takes place. From the very start you will be involved in a variety of projects which will enable you to understand and develop a design process. You will work alongside peers and develop projects through workshops, debate and discussion. Friendly tutors will support the development of visual and digital skills and provide regular feedback as well as providing discipline specific context. At the heart of the course is learning through hands on projects designed to develop your critical thinking and creativity. Invited guests from industry will also provide regular talks to increase your awareness of the wider profession.

Coursework and Assessment

Assessments are designed to provide you with feedback on your progress in understanding the subject and in developing essential skills. All assessments are coursework based and there are no exams.


Students successfully completing the foundation year will be awarded a place on the Manchester School of Architecture BA (Hons) Architecture programme.

Units in Foundation Year 120 credits

Personal and Professional Development

Personal and Professional Development

This introductory unit aims to bridge the transition between the differences in school and University pedagogy and prepare students for the importance of research and writing on an architecture degree. Research methods, essay writing, and referencing will be the focus. Additional, softer skills such as time management, confidence building, and taking personal responsibility will also be addressed. We will be exploring the current English for Academic Study unit for international students which gives the students time to develop the language skills, study skills and cultural awareness required to succeed in UK HE in a supportive environment and to produce a portfolio of assessed language work that meets the University's English language entry requirements and is also compliant with Home Office requirements.

Communication and Presentation Techniques

Communication and Presentation Techniques

The unit will focus on techniques that are suitable to the pursuit of architecture. Skills will include hand drawing, mark-making, the use of diagrams, perspective drawing, exploration of various mediums and techniques, physical model making, as well as basic CAD and digital skills. Verbal presentation skills will also be addressed.

Analytical and Conceptual Techniques

Analytical and Conceptual Techniques

Successful designers must possess the ability to understand and analyse societal and client/project-specific problems and then conceptualise design solutions. This unit introduces the design processes and the importance of understanding that this process is iterative and non-linear.

Architectural Design Studio

Architectural Design Studio

The unit will be the culmination of the previous units, requiring students to develop a project brief into a final architectural design proposal presentation. The unit will mimic a typical design studio project on an Architecture degree course.

Career Opportunities

Our BA Architecture graduates are highly valued for their confidence and creativity, and benefit from our strong links with national and international architectural practices. They have gone on to successful careers in areas including:

  • architecture;
  • advertising;
  • estate management;
  • project management;
  • real estate;
  • urban design;
  • web design.

Top employers of our BA Architecture graduates include Aedas, AR, Atkins, BDP, BroadwayMalyan, Foster + Partrers, Hawkins\Brown, and Sheppard Robson.

Qualifying as an architect normally requires a combination of five years study at university and a minimum of two years practical experience before completing a final examination.

Many graduates study our Master of Architecture (MArch) course, which is recognised as a Part 2 qualification by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).  

Find out more about career destinations of our Architecture graduates by reading our alumni profiles. What’s more, the University has its own dedicated Careers Service that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate if you go on to study our BA Architecture.

At Manchester you will also have access to a number of opportunities to help boost your employability .

Foundation Staff

Emily Crompton
Emily Crompton BA Foundation Year Leader View profile
Carma Masson
Carma Masson Tutor (BA Foundation) View profile
Polly North
Polly North Tutor (BA Foundation) View profile

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