Master of Architecture

In today’s increasingly complex and challenging built environment, architects must be equipped with a diverse skillset to tackle social, environmental, commercial and aesthetic issues that are critical across the globe.

This course provides those skills and prepares you for professional registration as an architect.

The Master of Architecture program builds on your undergraduate experience and emphasises integration and research-led design inquiry through studio-based projects. Architectural history, theory and philosophy are also foundational to your course.

During the program, you will develop working knowledge and expertise across a sequence of three architectural research studios that focus on urban, sustainable and digital themes.

As the culmination of your studies, you will have the opportunity to integrate the theoretical, historical, technical and design knowledge and skills you have acquired. You will also be able to expand your perspectives on architectural practice by completing one semester of international exchange during the first three semesters of the program.

What is the outcome of this course?

Graduates may apply to register as an architect with the NSW Architects Registration Board and pursue a range of fields including architecture, design and the wider built environment.

The combined program of Bachelor of Design in Architecture/Master of Architecture is recognised by both the Australian Institute of Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Architects.

Modes of study

You can undertake this program full time or part time. The maximum timeframe for part-time study is six years. International applicants must be enrolled full time.

Admission requirements

Applications for entry into the Master of Architecture are evaluated on the basis of weighted average marks in your previous degree.

Students are required to have completed the Bachelor of Design in Architecture or another degree deemed equivalent by the faculty.

Graduates of the University of Sydney undergraduate architecture program are required to complete the prerequisite unit Architectural Professional Practice.

Graduates of other universities are required to submit a comprehensive portfolio of documented coursework and/or practical experience.


All students, with the exception of graduates of the University of Sydney’s Bachelor of Design in Architecture program, will need to submit a comprehensive portfolio as part of their application into the Master of Architecture.

The portfolio should include examples of coursework submitted for assessment in previous undergraduate courses.

The objective of the portfolio is to demonstrate the level of knowledge and skills attained across all four key streams of architectural study:

  • architectural design;
  • architectural history and theory;
  • architectural technology, including structures, construction, materials and environmental systems;
  • design and architectural communication, including manual and digital/software applications for architectural drawing, diagramming, rendering and physical modeling.

Ideally, an example from each stream for each semester of previous study should be included. Where projects were completed as part of a group, applicants should clearly state the role they played in the group and the individual material they contributed to the overall project.

Where professional practice projects are included, the portfolio should clearly and precisely identify what components of the design schemes shown, and what roles the applicant undertook in the project. Reference letters should support this aspect of the portfolio.

Application should also include a A4 cover letter outlining the applicant's full contact details, a personal statement explaining reasons for wishing to study the Master of Architecture at the University of Sydney, any relevant academic and professional experience in support of the application and at least two referees.

Indicative Course
Assuming an emphasis on digital architecture

    First Year

    Semester One

  • Studio B Sustainable Architecture will focus on the theories, technologies and techniques that promote the creation of a sustainable built environment. The studio projects will directly explore the interdependent issues of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The studio will prompt students to develop critical positions in regard to sustainability and to extend and explore those positions through the architectural design process.

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  • This unit presents foundational knowledge concerning modern movements in global architecture and urbanism, from the early-20th century to the present.

    It explores the relationships between developments in architectural practice and broader dynamics of 20th century history.

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  • This unit of study consolidates students' knowledge of advanced concepts in digital modelling and visualization media available for architectural design. The unit develops conceptual understanding and practical application of these techniques, using commercial modelling and rendering packages.

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    First Year

    Semester Two

  • Studio C Digital Architecture explores theories, media and techniques that involve digital mediation to create engaging architectural designs that stimulate all human senses in their relationship with the built environment.

    The studio addresses various issues of digital media, digital design techniques, design theories, computational concepts and other factors influencing the development of architectural production using digital tools.

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  • The objective of the Modern Architectural Theory unit is to equip students with a critical understanding of key Western architectural theories from the Enlightenment to the present.

    Emphasis is placed on the specific historical situations and cultural and philosophical contexts in which those theories arose, and ultimately how they were represented within the domain of architectural embodiment. It is organized predominantly as a chronological survey which clearly identifies particular trains of thought in their continuity and transformation throughout history.

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  • The unit introduces students to concepts, issues and techniques relating to the design of some advanced structural, construction and services systems, and the integration of these systems within the design decision making process.

    This unit has a modular structure and aims to give students the tools to initiate and develop their design intentions in relation to structural, construction and services technologies.

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    Second Year

    Semester One

  • The studio examines the role and agency of architecture in the urban context - interrogating the internal and external parameters that act on the design process at incremental urban scales and intensities and engaging with the societal, financial, legislative and managerial frameworks that shape urban development, The studio will prompt students to develop critical positions in regard to urban issues and to extend and explore those positions through the architectural design process.

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  • The unit introduces students to concepts, issues and techniques relating to the design of more advanced and complex structural, foundation and services systems for buildings.

    The unit has a modular structure and explores in depth the integration of these systems within the design decision making process. It aims to give students the ability to realize their design intentions initially in the studio projects of the degree; to understand the nature and impact of materiality on the architectural design process; and then in subsequent practice, to provide the basis for the development of technical and design skills required of a professional architect.

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    Second Year

    Semester Two

  • This is the culminating studio of the Master of Architecture degree and provides students with the opportunity to develop a complex architectural project that builds upon knowledge gained from the preceding digital, sustainable or urban architecture studios.

    The project will be supported by a comprehensive research report demonstrating independent exploration of relevant theories and issues raised during the design. This unit is core to the Master of Architecture.

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  • The unit aims to provide knowledge of basic contract law and building contracts; as well as information about, and skills in, the production of working drawings, specifications and opinions of probable construction costs, as commonly prepared by an architect.

    On the successful completion of this unit of study, students will have demonstrated: a competent ability in the production of working drawings, specifications and cost control for the building designed during the semester studio; an ability to communicate this documentation to clients, statutory authorities, consultants, tenderers, contractors and sub-contractors etc.

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Student Profiles

    Nicholas Grimes

    Master of Architecture, 2015
    Architectural Designer, Lend Lease

    I undertook the Master of Architecture with the aim of continuing my education and developing my technical, professional and theoretical understanding of the practice of architecture. After completing my undergraduate degree, I spent 18 months working with Lend Lease’s design team.

    This valuable experience provided me with additional knowledge that I could put towards the postgraduate course.

    Architectural education involves learning how to learn. This degree provide the tools to tackle unknown challenges with the confidence that you will be able to find a solution and learn in the process.

    The Design, Modelling and Fabrication Lab provided excellent resources for design development. The international electives provided incredible collaborative opportunities and allowed me to develop strong international connections.

    Pitching your design can be just as important as the design itself. The ability to convey your design intentions quickly and concisely is important in ensuring that your intended audience correctly comprehends your concepts.

    The skills I’ve acquired have presented me with the opportunity to work on some of the largest projects in Australia, in collaboration with local and international practices.

    I have also produced the Sydney University Architecture Revue (2010), entered the Sydney VIVID Festival (Made You Look – 2014), and participated in the Bamboo Design Workshop between Sydney University and the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2014).

    My education at Sydney has informed my current work in two fundamental ways. First, the design methodologies developed within studio have allowed me to tackle design challenges at a variety of scales, grasping the multiple requirements of complex briefs within a collaborative working environment. Secondly, the development of my technical skills has improved my ability to communicate, as well as taught me the use of a wide variety of programs. This has strengthened my ability to convey my ideas both visually and verbally.

    My advice for students keen on pursuing architecture as a profession is to see that the practice of architecture is exactly that – a practice. The skills established at university equip you for a life of learning, producing and critically engaging with your context. To this end, it is important that you aren’t afraid to ask questions.

    Casey Bryant

    Bachelor of Design in Architecture,
    Master of Architecture (Hons),
    Andrew Burns Architects

    Studying architecture at Sydney has put me in contact with many people within the industry. These contacts led to my initial internships and employment.

    After graduating, I moved to Melbourne to work for McBride Charles Ryan. I was exposed to large projects, including the new Victorian Cancer Centre. I won the Emerging Architect prize in the Boral Design Awards.

    Two years ago I returned to Sydney to work for Andrew Burns Architects. I played a key role in the design and delivery of significant residential and cultural buildings, including Australia House in Japan and the shortlisted proposal for the Green Square Aquatic Centre.

    My advice is to look for the potential for innovation and experimentation in everything you do. Even if doesn’t lead to a useful outcome, the process will always further your thinking.

    Pamela Degabriele

    Master of Architecture, 2015

    The Master of Architecture program provided me with immense opportunities. Under the Hazlet Bequest Travelling Scholarship, I was fortunate to travel to Chile with nine other students to complete a design intensive.

    I had a unique opportunity to experience a new environment, meet new people and appreciate a different approach to design.

    I am working in the sphere of heritage, residential, and commercial architecture. Eventually I would like to move into the affordable housing market and my recent career decisions have all centred on this goal. I believe that as an advocate of architecture, it is my duty to bring my expertise to the masses and not just the rich.

Meet Our
Program Director


Professor Michael Tawa

Research Interests

Architecture and Cinema
Architecture and music
Spatial and temporal symbolism

I am fascinated by the way things (concepts, places, spaces, objects) are made – not only that they are made, but more so the way they come to be made. Consequently, I value process over product, and products only to the extent that they open up new perspectives and processes of thinking and making. I value the un-programmable, the uncertain, the makeshift, the incommunicable and the uncanny in language, the image, representation and architectural experience.

My approach to teaching is that of an encounter with an equivalent fascination in the other, of a practice focused on opening up and mobilising sense through the project, around which the work hovers and proceeds.

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Master of Architecture