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MARC4102: Modern Architectural Theory (2015 - Semester 2)

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Unit: MARC4102: Modern Architectural Theory (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning
Unit Coordinator/s: Assoc Prof Smith, Chris L.
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Prohibitions: ARCH9049,ARCH9048,ARCH6104
Brief Handbook Description: 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. Students will become generally conversant in the principles of central theories, and will understand their terms and references. Through readings, lectures, and tutorial sessions, students will acquire the literacy required to perceive and articulate contemporary theoretical standpoints, and will refine their research and writing skills through independent research into a particular aspect of recent architectural theory and history related to their concurrent studio design project. Close attention will be paid to the exchange between practice and theory and the relevance of the discussed theories to the formation of current circumstances, and to the place of architecture within contemporary culture as a whole.
Assumed Knowledge: None.
Timetable: MARC4102 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Tutorial 1.50 1 13
T&L Activities: Lectures: Lecture and tutorial contact, plus self-directed preparation and assignments, for a minimum total student commitment averaging 9 hours per week.

Practical Work:

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Students are taught to engage in independent and critical thinking, as well as encouraged to develop sophisticated research and skills in scholarly research, including locating and evaluating sources, and constructing arguments. Information, literacy, learning and research skills (Level 4)
History and Theory is the primary area of focus in this unit of study, which aims at developing critical skills through the study and analysis of central texts that are representative of an architectural and cultural theory. Theoretical, social and/or historic engagement (Level 4)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Architecture Contextualized Graduate Attributes. .

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Information, literacy, learning and research skills (Level 4)
1. Ability to develop and apply a level of information literacy that allows for the perception and articulation of particular contemporary theoretical standpoints and demonstrate the ability to refine research and writing skills through independent research into a particular aspect of recent architectural theory and history
2. Ability to consider, challenge and elucidate complex ideas in a clear and concise manner using a scholarly argument and consistent referencing
Theoretical, social and/or historic engagement (Level 4)
3. Ability to inform action through knowledge of architectural design theory and history with particular emphasis on the specific historical situations and cultural and philosophical contexts in which the theories arose, and how they were represented within the domain of architecture.
4. An ability to think abstractly, conceptually and critically about architecture and through different architectural and urban ideas, and demonstrate the principles of particular central theories with an understanding of relevant terms and references.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Aphorism No 30.00 Week 11 1, 2, 3, 4,
2 Aphorism No 10.00 Week 7 1, 2, 4,
3 Essay No 60.00 Exam Period 1, 2, 3, 4,
Assessment Description: Assignment 1 (30%); Assignment 2 (10%); Essay (60%)
Assessment Feedback: Feedback on presentations and weekly tutorial proformas occur during tutorials. Written feedback is provided on a final grading/feedback summary sheet.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures:
Online Course Content: Recommended Readings

Plato, The Apology of Socrates

Plato, Republic

Aristotle, Poetics

Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Lebbeus Woods, Radical Reconstruction

Lebbeus Woods, Thoughts on Architecture of Resistance. (online text)

Lebbeus Woods, Anarchitecture

Foucault, Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison

Evans, “A Way of Obtaining Power” in The Fabrication of Virtue: English Prison Architecture, 1750-1840

Koolhaas, “Exodus”, in SMLXL

Koolhaas, ”Generic City”, in SMLXL

Koolhaas, Delirious New York

Dalí, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí

Koolhaas, ‘Junk Space’ in Content

Many of these texts are online: either public domain, or via the Library`s website:

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 7 Assessment Due: Aphorism
Week 11 Assessment Due: Aphorism
Exam Period Assessment Due: Essay

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Master of Architecture 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Information, literacy, learning and research skills (Level 4) Yes 51.6%
Theoretical, social and/or historic engagement (Level 4) Yes 48.4%

These goals are selected from Architecture Contextualized Graduate Attributes. which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Architecture Contextualized Graduate Attributes. for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.