Master of Architectural Design

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Program Description

Master of Architectural Design

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University


The Master of Architectural Design programme prepares students for an international career in architecture, creating bridges between Eastern and Western culture. Understanding mobility as one of the core conditions of global modernity, the programme attracts international students preparing for a career related to China, as well as domestic students preparing for both national and international careers. The programme focuses on architectural design studio as well as on humanistic and technical modules in preparation for either professional practice or PhD-level studies.

This programme is made to deliver all the learning outcomes as defined by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to qualify for RIBA part 2 validation, which is the second out of three stages in the formal educational process required to register as a professional architect in the United Kingdom.

The programme offers an international perspective, while at the same time enabling students to address the demands of rapid modernisation in China. When you graduate from this programme, you will receive an international masters degree from the University of Liverpool that is recognised by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Unique selling points

As China experiences unprecedented transformations as well as increasing professional, industrial and academic collaboration with international partners, this programme educates coming generations of architects who have the necessary cross-cultural awareness, social and environmental responsibility, creative and critical capability, technical competence and professional attitude to enable and to define ongoing and future transformations in the built environment domestically and internationally. Emphasising and engaging with the Chinese context and the local built environment, the programme is oriented towards the highest international standards and it attracts both domestic and international students and academic staff.

Design studios are the core of the programme, formed around the ongoing research of the department and the specific needs of the profession within China and across the world. Design studios may have the following themes:

  • Urban development and regeneration.
  • Innovation in fabrication and construction.
  • Computer-aided architectural design.
  • Architectural theory and criticism.
  • Social and cultural issues.


Knowledge and skills

The Master of Architectural Design programme will teach you how to develop architectural design projects at an advanced level, including the creative, technical and research skills needed, and educate you in the areas of theory, history and criticism of architecture. The most important knowledge and skills taught are:

  • Ability to generate complex design proposals showing understanding of current architectural issues, originality in the application of subject knowledge and, where appropriate, to test new hypotheses and speculations
  • Ability to evaluate and apply a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media to test, analyse, critically appraise and explain design proposals
  • Ability to evaluate materials, processes and techniques that apply to complex architectural designs and building construction, and to integrate these into practicable design proposals
  • Critical understanding of how knowledge is advanced through research to produce clear logically argued and original written work relating to architectural culture, theory and design
  • Understanding of the context of the architecture and the construction industry, including the architect’s role in the processes of procurement and building production, and legislation
  • Problem-solving skills, professional judgement, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances.


Year One

  • Design Studio I
  • Applied technology in architecture
  • Architectural theory and criticism
  • Additional learning activities.
  • Design Studio II
  • Advanced professional practice
  • Topics in architectural history
  • Additional learning activities.

Summer break

  • Additional learning activities (such as internships, study trips, independent studies, etc.)

Year Two

  • Design Studio III
  • Architectural design and research methods
  • Practice-based enquiry and architectural representation
  • Additional learning activities
  • Design studio IV (thesis project)
  • Thesis (written component of the thesis project)
  • Additional learning activities.

Additional learning activity modules

The programme includes 200 hours of Additional Learning Activities per semester, most of which are chosen individually by students. They should normally be spread equally over teaching semesters and the summer and winter breaks. An individual student-learning plan will be established at the outset of each semester with the academic advisor. Examples of ALAs include:

  • Postgraduate English (LAN901 . Mandatory, if required by the programme director)
  • Postgraduate English (LAN902. Mandatory, if required by the programme director)
  • Chinese language (CLT901-906. Mandatory for international students)
  • Graduate teaching assistantship
  • Graduate research assistantship (if available)
  • Graduate practice placement/internship
  • Participation in Level Three or Level Four lecture-and-seminar based modules in the built environment cluster
  • Participation in Level Three or Level Four modules from other XJTLU departments or the Language Centre
  • Selected topics in design tools and methods
  • Selected topics in advanced digital design
  • Selected topics in architectural research methods
  • Selected topics in architectural representation
  • Independent studies with an ARC tutor
  • Scholarly presentation of a research paper
  • Publication of a paper in a peer-reviewed architecture-related journal
  • Personal and employability skills (MAN903)


This programme provides you with an appropriate foundation for employment in the architectural profession at an advanced level. It also provides the basis for enrolment in a PhD research degree. Our graduates find excellent opportunities in the building and creative industries, in local and international architecture firms, as well as in architecture administration, research and higher education institutions. Our highly international academic staff offer you individual career advice for entry into many job markets in Asia, Europe, Australia and the Americas.


The Department of Architecture fosters a constantly growing professional network in architecture and related fields. Being located close to the metropolitan area of Shanghai, with its dynamic architecture job market that attracts many international firms, means we can assist you to pursue job opportunities, internships and work placements in China and abroad.


Our students are eligible for positions as a graduate teaching and/or research assistants at XJTLU, working up to 10 hours per week. These can contribute towards Additional Learning Activities and include a salary.


RMB 160,000 for the entire two-year full-time programme.

University tuition fees cover the cost of your study with us.

Equivalent academic qualifications


An undergraduate degree (UK 2:1 or equivalent) in BArch, BEng in Architecture, BA (Hons) in Architecture or equivalent. Applicants are required to submit a portfolio of their own creative works as a student and a practicing architect/intern (indicating where and when the work was done, who the tutor/supervisor was, who was part of the team and what the applicants' role was in the team, A3-size, typically 10 to 30 pages, in PDF format). An internship in an architecture-related practice is recommended, but not required. We might accept applicants with substantial work experience or an outstanding portfolio even if their grades are lower than the minimum entry requirements.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum of 6.0 in all sections)
  • TOEFL iBT: 94 (minimum of 21 in any skill)
This school offers programs in:
  • English
Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Last updated January 28, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2019
2 years
Full time
160,000 CNY
For the entire programme
China - Suzhou, Jiangsu
Start date : Sept. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2019
China - Suzhou, Jiangsu
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info