Master of Architecture

Prog. Code: 
2 years full-time

Term 1, Term 3

Delivery Options

Full-time, Part-time

Commonwealth supported places


Professional recognition


A distinctive architectural education with 4 areas of specialisation

UNSW Architecture offers a distinctive architectural education with 4 areas of specialisation: high-performance technology, housing, urban conditions, and social agency.

The program provides you with advanced knowledge and techniques in architectural design and related technical and academic knowledge. It prepares you to work in architecture and other design-based industries and to operate at a professional level in the practice of Architecture.

Key Information

Program details

UNSW Architecture is distinctive. We offer well-rounded architectural education PLUS the choices of 4 distinctive streams of specialisation, each with a specific focus on how architecture responds to social and environmental challenges:

High-Performance Technology

The Architecture and High-Performance Technology stream in the Masters of Architecture programme addresses two of the greatest challenges facing the built environment in the twenty-first century – namely urbanisation and climate change.
It is well known that our cities are expanding rapidly, with global urban populations set to almost double by 2050, to around 6.5 billion people. Sydney is not immune from such growth, with its own population set to grow to 8 million by 2050. Where, and how, will these future urban dwellers live, work and play? To accommodate this growth, it’s clear we will need to design and build in a more compact manner, including creating tall buildings and other large and complex architectural interventions. However, at the same time, we need to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of our built environment, in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. In sum, we need to build much more, while using much less energy. 
The Architecture and High-Performance Technology Stream provides students with the skills, understanding, tools and experiences needed to tackle these two grand challenges. The stream aims to create a unique type of architectural graduate who is concerned with designing beautiful and effective architecture, but are also experts in achieving high levels of performance in terms of energy demand, technological innovations, density, lifestyle and comfort.  
The Architecture and High-Performance Technology curriculum provides a balanced and well-rounded architectural education, with a specific emphasis on high-rise and high-density buildings, environmental design, climate-change mitigation and the technical integration of structure, systems and technology in architecture.  
In conjunction with courses covering the broad spectrum of architectural understanding, including history and theory and professional practice, specialist modules in this stream introduce students to integrated design approaches and performance evaluation tools for both buildings and urban spaces. These provide students with the skills and understanding to test, develop and optimise their designs for energy, climate, environment and comfort. 
The studio-design courses build on these skills. In Year 4, semester 1, the ‘Integrated Design Studio’ sees architecture students collaborate with Engineering and Sustainable Built Environment students in a unique multi-disciplinary studio environment. This provides a stimulating working environment that mirrors reality; true innovation and high-performance outcomes emerge almost exclusively through close collaboration and the sharing of ideas across many disciplines and fields of expertise. In year 4 semester 2, the ‘Hybrid Studio’ challenges students to design a mixed-use high-rise building on a tight urban site in Sydney. The final year grad-studio brings all this student learning together, by asking how can we create complex, high-density architecture that is also high performance – both environmentally and socially. Emphasis is placed on hybrid programmes, and innovative ways of stacking and combining functions, along with developing buildings that respond to the climate, culture and context of their location.

Across Sydney, the skyline is punctuated by cranes. These are the visible symbols of the boom in housing construction that the city is experiencing. Housing is the most active part of the building industry and accounts for over 80 billion dollars of work annually across Australia. Its products – houses, apartments and townhouses – are also the building types that everyone is most familiar with, and they are the vessels of everyday private life.
Housing, therefore, takes in many issues and skills. Clever architectural planning is critical for making housing that uses resources effectively and gives people the best value for their money. Understanding space is essential for giving people pleasure in inhabiting their homes. Having a grasp of broader economic and social ideas is important for understanding where people choose to live, and how housing choices are affected by income and culture. And since housing makes up the bulk of Sydney’s built form, the collective arrangement of housing units not only influences how people interact, but also determines the kind of urban culture that arises around and between these units.
The Housing Stream introduces students to these issues, and provides studios and supporting courses that allow students to work through proposals that imaginatively hone their skills in designing effective and socially relevant housing. Studios will range from the small to the large, from the modest to the advanced, and from the historically proven to the experimental. For many architects housing is a lifetime passion, and the Housing Stream aims to convey why this is so to tomorrow’s practitioners.

Urban Conditions

Urbanization is one of the great challenges of the 21st century.  Global urban populations are predicted to stabilize mid-century at around 6.5 billion people.  Over this time, Australia’s population is predicted to double.  This is an enormous rate of development that is the equivalent of building one Sydney or one Melbourne every decade between now and 2060.  The challenges for the built environment are significant - aesthetically, functionally and environmentally.
The public role of the architect is critical in addressing the architectural challenges of global urbanization.  Public spaces both within and surrounding buildings are an expression of the culture of a city and demonstrate the urban values of a society and the relationship between the individual and the state.  Public space is important because of the way it shapes people’s understanding and experience of the city.  
The Architecture and Urban Conditions Stream provides students with the skills, understanding, tools and experiences needed to address the architectural challenges of global urbanization.  The stream aims to create a unique type of architectural graduate who has an interest and a commitment to the public role of the architect and an understanding of architecture in a broader interdisciplinary context that includes the fields of landscape architecture, urban design, planning, public art and environmental sustainability.
The Urban Conditions stream in the Masters of Architecture programme focuses on the design of buildings and precincts in the context of the contemporary city and its challenges, including the relationship of buildings to the public domain, urban infrastructure and environmental sustainability.  Architecture is therefore conceived of as part of a city, one that contributes richly to its setting and enduringly to its community.  Specific emphasis is placed on an understanding and speculating on the physical, historical and cultural aspects of urban settings and the development of design proposals that promote alternative models for future city-building. 
In conjunction with courses covering the broad spectrum of architectural understanding, including construction and professional practice, specialist modules in this stream introduce students to urban research methods, urban theory and high-performance building systems.  These supporting courses provide students with the skills and understanding to test, develop and optimise their designs for functionality, amenity, sustainability and urban placemaking.
The Design Studio courses build on these skills.  Design projects across the two years of the M. Architecture are grounded in research-driven design inquiry and the testing and refining of an urban proposition through the development of an architectural project.  Projects expose students to a variety of urban conditions and real-world urban problems at a range of scales.  This includes sites in the CBD, waterfronts, transport corridors and campuses and programs such civic, cultural education and transport functions.  The final year Graduation Studio brings all prior learning together and emphasises research, analysis, the precise framing of an ambitious architectural proposal and the detailed realisation of an architectural work within a complex urban setting.

Social Agency


Cities, and the lives of those who live in them, are rapidly changing. With cities growing around the world by over one million people per week, density, business, technology, infrastructure and commerce offer fantastic opportunities, and also, considerable challenges.    Much city growth across the world is largely unplanned, and for the hundreds of millions of people living in poor-quality settlements, and for those marginalised or ignored in society, or for those forced to flee persecution, cities are places of unfairness, inequality and often isolation.   Given this, the Social Agency Stream explores the central question, ‘what does it take to engage meaningfully in the city?’ For many, architecture, and the role of architects, has been limited, and in some ways side-lined from big urban urban challenges, which in addition to the above include: climate change and its current and future impacts on vulnerable people; societal inequality; and mitigating risks (such as violence and the threat of disaster) and the building of resilience, from neighbourhood to city level.  


The Social Agency Stream places as much emphasis on the process of engagement as much as the end-product. The process here means working with a wide range of people in a collaborative approach that results, when successful, in designs that are co-owned by those who took part in the process.    The Social Agency Stream offers a range of core and optional courses, including urban renewal, design diversity and politics, as well as construction, environment and building services.    The Social Agency Design Studio draws on, uses and critiques tools and techniques from several disciplines, which in addition to design includes development, anthropology, humanitarian aid, social science and economics. The outcome, therefore, is to equip students with the ability to explore and question what lies under the surface of design processes, and to develop a language and a practical skill-set that complements ‘traditional’ design practices. 




The Master of Architecture is a 2-year program consisting of 14 courses (96 Units Of Credit/UOC).

The program allows you to choose one of four specialised streams or a generalist (no specialisation) program. 

The program includes:

•    3 Design Studio Courses
•    1 Research Studio Course
•    3 Core Courses
•    4 Stream Courses (to complete the generalist program you can choose from a list of prescribed electives).  
•    3 FBE Elective Courses (choose from within UNSW School of Built Environment)

Key Areas of Study
Advanced Architectural Design
Advanced Architectural Science and Technology
Advanced Architectural Construction and Structures
Professional Practice

Stream Options of Study
High-Performance Technology
Social Agency
Urban Conditions
Generalist (No stream specialisation) 

For course listing, descriptions and timetables please see the UNSW Online Handbook. 



Once you attain your Master of Architecture degree you will have professional recognition from the NSW Architects Registration Board and Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA). You will be eligible, after a recognised period working in a professional setting, to undertake the Professional Practice exam to become a registered Architect.

Students of architecture are able to join the national student-membership body of the Australian Institute of Architects, SONA. SONA aims to advance the interests of architecture students, architectural education and architecture through the promotion of student work and thinking.

Career opportunities

The program provides you with advanced knowledge and techniques in architectural design and related technical and academic knowledge. It prepares you to work in architecture and other design-based industries, and to operate at a professional level in the practice of Architecture.

Career opportunities

  • Private practice

  • Commercial practice with diverse areas of specialisation

  • Multidisciplinary design practice

  • Specialist in areas such as heritage, high performance architectural technology and humanitarian architecture

  • Building scientist

  • Expert advisor in government organisations and agencies

  • Architectural critic, journalist, historian and academic

  • Environmental consultant

Why UNSW School of Built Environment
  • Professional accreditation
  • Architecture PLUS 4 distinctive streams of specialisation 
  • Top 27 in the world and 4th in Australia in Architecture/Built Environment (QS World University Rankings, 2020)
  • World class alumni connections
  • We're a global top 50 university. UNSW ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide (QS World University Rankings, 2020)
  • UNSW has the Most Employable Students (Winner, Australian Financial Review Most Employable Students Award 2020)
  • We're ranked 13th in the world and 2nd in Australia for Employer Reputation in Built Environment
  • Member of prestigious Group of Eight (Go8) universities
  • Strong industry links and partnerships
  • The only Architecture school in Australia with a Pritzker Prize winner (regarded as the Nobel Prize in architecture) Professor Glenn Murcutt, UNSW alumnus, on our teaching staff.
  • The only Architecture school in Australia endowed with three Chairs, the Seidler Chair in the Practice of Architecture, the Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture and the Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture. The Seidler Chair aims to deliver excellence in design studio education and is held by Pritzker prize winner Glenn Murcutt AO. The Judith Neilson Chair is held by Professor David Sanderson and aims to lead research and education to support disadvantaged communities displaced by natural disasters, geo-political conflicts, socio-economic exclusion and environmental factors. Professor Mattheos Santamouris holds the Anita Lawrence Chair.
Students' work

Luminocity 2020

Take an immersive tour through our virtual 360 degree interactive space. Explore Built Environment student projects, visit individual degree exhibits and discover the areas that interest you.



ARCHEX 2020 is an online exhibition showcasing the final projects of over 300 students who graduated from UNSW's Bachelor and Master of Architecture in 2020.

Entry requirements

To be eligible for this program you must have: 

1. 65 credit average (or equivalent) in an accredited undergraduate architecture degree OR

2. A UNSW 70 high credit WAM across the following courses:

  • ARCH1311 Architectural Design Studio 5
  • ARCH1361 Architectural Science and Building Environment 2
  • ARCH1331 Architectural Fabrication
  • ARCH1302 Architectural Design Studio 6
  • ARCH1322 Architectural History and Theory 3

If you have completed your undergraduate architecture degree at another institution you will be assessed on the basis of the final year compulsory courses in that undergraduate architecture degree OR

3. If you have completed the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (or equivalent) but do not meet the entry requirements specified under either 1 or 2 above, you may be considered after you have obtained work experience in an architectural office. Work experience will be individually assessed based on the following submission:

  • A logbook record of a minimum 12 months of full-time work or the equivalent.
  • A referee report from the employer
  • A portfolio of the work undertaken during this period

4. It is assumed that you will also have had 6 months work experience in an architectural practice.

International Students
In addition to the entry requirements listed above, if you have completed your undergraduate architecture degree from an international university, you must also provide a portfolio of your design work. The portfolio should include sample works from various stages of your undergraduate degree, text should accompany all drawings/images to explain the projects. The portfolio must be in digital format. Find out more about the portfolio requirement here.


How to apply

All domestic and international students can apply for postgraduate coursework online:

  • Apply online (International students must pay an application fee of $125.)

Application deadlines:

  • Term 1 (February) - apply by 30 November*
  • Term 3 (September) - apply by 31 July

Late applications may be accepted after the closing dates subject to the availability of places.

If you gain entry into a program at UNSW, you can then be assessed for transfer credit for courses (subjects) studied in your previous degree. 

Fees and expenses
Our students

The calibre of teaching staff, both academics and prestigious adjunct professors has been a critical point in my decision to study at UNSW School of Built Environment”.

Jessica Gottlieb, Student