The Master of Arts in Architectural Conservation (MAArC) is an advanced programme that offers a unique perspective on diverse Asian cultures by providing students with comprehensive knowledge and essential hands-on training and experience to develop skills for a range of careers in historic building conservation and related fields.
About MA in Architectural Conservation
The MAArC is distinctively Asian, with the focus on ‘living’ and ‘local’ culture, and urban in its emphasis. located at the crossroads of East and West, Singapore stands out for its unique urban landscape: historic districts, heritage buildings, and national monuments, which blend seamlessly with modern high-rise buildings. the survival of these rich and varied historic sites amid Singapore’s rapid development has been only possible due to deliberate, conscious, and integrated urban planning. with the city-state as a springboard providing an enriching backdrop, we aim to provide an architectural conservation education that is sensitive to the varied challenges facing historic Asian cities, as well as diverse opportunities provided by the richness of cultural heritage, and socio-economic elements of the region.
Historic Asian cities are often regarded as the cradle of civilisation and have played a vital role in the development of human societies. in the past few decades, cities across Asia have been experiencing tremendous transformations in their social, cultural, and economic structures due to an unprecedented rate of urbanisation and rural-urban migration. even as millions living in these cities currently enjoy a share of ‘progress,’ they are nevertheless under the constant threat of destruction. what is at stake is the erasure of the cultural endowments and values of various communities, and the rapid and irreversible alteration of the character of inner-city neighbourhoods – these have repercussions on how people live and work, and on the preservation of urban fabric. to that end, we prepare our students with historical perspectives, cultivate intellectual tools, and acquire practical design and conservation skills to manage conservation projects of different scales and context. our students will understand that the most pressing urban heritage management challenges cannot be solved by a single discipline but requires interdisciplinary collaborations across professions and key stakeholders.
NUS Baba House in Singapore and NUS-Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Asian Architectural and Urban Heritage in Melaka (Malaysia) are the unique resources available to the Department of Architecture to facilitate hands-on training and research into architectural conservation and urban environments.
Our teaching (guest) faculty is drawn from an international cast of heritage professionals and practising building craftspersons with diverse theoretical orientations, academic backgrounds, and varied work experience, in addition to the NUS lecturers and professors. The MAArC programme, through its balanced approach towards conservation principles, design and practice, endeavour to train students to contribute to critical discourses and shape the practice by providing thought leadership.
The National University of Singapore, Department of Architecture hosts the UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia. It is dedicated to promoting research and education in the field of architectural conservation.
 #12 in QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020: Architecture/ Built Environment. #11 in QS Global World Ranking 2021.
 A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. NUS has 17 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 38,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives. NUS also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.
The MAArC offers three streams that focus on the various demands and expertise of the profession: policy and management; design in the historic urban context; and materials and technology linking them directly to various aspects of heritage conservation in Asian cities. A candidate will have an option to choose one of the three streams as per his/her specialisation.
To qualify for the MAArC degree, a candidate must successfully attain 40 modular credits (MC) by taking a combination of core modules, stream modules, and electives.
To qualify for a Graduate Diploma in Architectural Conservation, a candidate must successfully earn 24 modular credits (MC). To qualify for a Graduate Certificate in Architectural Conservation, a candidate must successfully earn 8 modular credits (MC).
Core modules include sustainable heritage principles and policies, such as architectural history, conservation approaches, and urban regeneration that forms the foundation for heritage conservation education. The critical analyses of the contemporary discourses on heritage management and conservation, mainly in Asia, occupy the central theme in the core curriculum. Stream modules will further deepen the broader knowledge gained from core modules. Invited external professionals will share their knowledge and experience with the students along the way of the programme.
Stream modules are designed to acquire more advanced skills in the three specialisations – policy and management; design in the historic urban context; and materials and technology as per the student’s interest. Stream modules include architectural heritage management; conservation policy methodology for sustainable development; disaster risk management of cultural heritage; dissertation; design for conservation; design for adaptive reuse; historic buildings survey and recording; conservation of twentieth-century buildings; and practical building conservation skills.
Students can pick electives from a basket of graduate-level modules offered in the School of Design and Environment as well as other schools and faculties, to allow them to augment core learning. While the choice is broad, there are a few suggested areas of study: urban design, urban planning, real estate, and public policy. At the start of each semester, the Programme Director releases a list of pre-approved electives.
The MAArC offers the opportunity to engage students with local and international practices, gaining practical and research experience in heritage conservation, by working as an intern in a private company or public organisation both in Singapore and the region. This practical experience can also be validated as a part of the elective internship module (AC5014). Students can take this module between the two semesters.
The internship allows students to participate in relevant heritage management, urban design, planning and/or research projects, and their work will be supervised and evaluated by the MAArC programme director or an appointed tutor. At the end of the internship, the student is required to submit a report explaining the project(s) involved reflecting the methods and practices learned during the experience.
The internship lasts for a minimum period of five weeks on a part-time basis (3 hours/day, 3 days/week).
Study Trip Abroad
The MAArC enhances the learning experience by exposing students to real and professional scenarios. As part of this experience, a compulsory four to six days field trip to infuse in our students the ability to understand, analyse critically, and manage heritage sensitively and reasonably in Asian contexts. This field trip, with input by local government agencies and conservation authorities, private conservation professionals, and academic institutions will provide an in-depth understanding of the relationship of built heritage conservation efforts to the sustainable development of the historic environment. The class travels to a city in the region in the middle of the academic year during the long semester break (June-July).
Candidates are selected based on their academic qualifications and relevant industry experience. An application is required to submit the following:
Evidence of a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Architecture, Planning/Urban Design, Project and Facility Management, or any built environment-related programmes or qualifications as may be approved by the National University of Singapore.
In exceptional cases, a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline with at least a two-year of relevant work experience, subject to approval by the Faculty and Board of Graduate Studies, on a case-by-case basis.
A detailed curriculum vitae (CV) and, if the candidate is from a design background, a project portfolio if from the non-design background, an essay and a detailed CV.
Two letters of reference.
A minimum TOEFL score of 85 (internet-based testing) or equivalent for applicants whose first degree was not taught in English. Shortlisted candidates may be invited to appear for an interview. Where an applicant is not based in Singapore, the interview will take place via video call.
Many MAArC alumni may return to their core disciplines as heritage conservation-trained professionals. A degree from one of the world’s premier schools of design and environment, NUS enhances their standing and marketability; the MAArC experience provides them with an enhanced capability to broaden their perspective regarding emerging trends and persistent heritage issues in Asia. With the critical skills and knowledge gained through the programme, they are well placed to excel in heritage conservation or related sectors in the region. Some graduates may segue into research, education, or specialist consulting. Others may continue to pursue PhDs.