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History & Theory Studies


History & Theory Studies is part of the MA Architecture Programme at the RCA, and questions what it is to be an architect in the contemporary world. 

Each year the History & Theory Studies unit investigates an academic theme as a means to allow each student to develop a critical understanding of history and the impact of architecture. This understanding is vital in encouraging students to intellectually contextualise and discuss their own design work. The History & Theory Studies unit is taught through a series of lectures from staff and guests, seminars, tutorials, conversations and archival work.

In 2017/18 the History & Theory Studies unit examined architecture through the lens of citizenship. To be an architect right now is also to be a citizen – an agent or a participant in political life. The ways we become citizens – perform as citizens, see and understand the world as citizens – is central to the History & Theory Studies unit. Architectural history is examined and discussed in relation to ideas of political subjectivity. Architecture and political subjectivity coexist: architecture is shaped by political subjectivity, while architecture also shapes political subjectivity, forcing us to move, behave and see space in particular ways. 

In 2018/19 the History & Theory Studies unit will be undertaken by second-year MA Architecture students, with students working on a critical piece of writing based on their own research, alongside models, images and drawings used as complementary tools of developing an independent discourse.