Educational Model

Organised as a living network, rather than a fixed hierarchy, the LSA forges a series of powerful relationships: between academia and practice; between architecture and other disciplines; and between the school and the city.

The LSA has a porous boundary: open to the culture of architecture (blue), intersecting fields of knowledge (purple) and the metropolis itself (yellow)
The LSA has a porous boundary: open to the culture of architecture (blue), intersecting fields of knowledge (purple) and the metropolis itself (yellow)

In the Inter-Practice Year students are employed in three-day per week, 12-month placements hosted by our Practice Network; in their other time they work on LSA projects. In the Proto-Practice Year, students are full-time with the LSA developing individual thesis design projects. The school uses the city as both its campus and testing ground, siting our investigations and projects in a different borough every year.

Our programme is validated by our Academic Partner The University of Liverpool, who award our graduates with an MArch in Designing Architecture. The LSA is professionally recognised at Part 2 level by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The Inter-Practice Year

The First Year is the Inter-Practice Year, where students are employed three days per week by a practice, and work on school projects ‘between’ the practices on the other two days per week. The year’s five modules place an emphasis on urban-scale and collaborative work.

Produced in the Urban Studies module, this proposal by Nicholas Keen is for a Crossrail station that recreates the experience of Soho’s intricate streets as you reach the ground level. See a full publication of the work here.


Design Cities 

By Steve Smith
The London School of Architecture is intensely focused on London. Each student cohort will concentrate on a nominated borough for their two years on the programme. The Design Cities module, which begins at the start of the Inter-Practice Year, introduces students to both the larger context of the city and the particular context of the borough where the Proto-Practice Year projects will be sited. It explores intellectually and practically the forces that shape built urban form, and the power of the architect among the many players who construct the city.

Working in groups, students navigate a particular urban quarter, mapping its physical and intangible qualities, charting its challenges and opportunities, and producing a collective understanding from which each student develops an individual design project. This module leads directly into Design Direction, and subsequently to Design Speculation, Design Thesis, Design Synthesis and Design Tectonics.


Design Think Tank Project

By Heather Macey 
Design Think Tanks are a distinctive part of the London School of Architecture. With the Practice Network being based in London, the school aims to create a vibrant and dynamic research platform in the capital city, harnessing the power of collaborative endeavour and shared purpose to engage in global design conversations at the forefront of the discipline.

Design Think Tanks are groupings of practices within the Practice Network who negotiate a shared research question for that academic year. The project is led by a nominated practice leader(s) and developed by all the students (typically between four and seven) on a placement within the Design Think Tank. Students will work collaboratively and individually on an iterative design process, which will lead to a group publication combining architectural proposition and written research for dissemination within the profession and more widely.

In 2020/21, there are eight Design Think Tanks: Work in Progress; Spatial Justice; Urban Agriculture; Connecting Communities; Shifting Gear; Symbiotic Cities;


Critical Practice: Placement

By Ruth Lang
This module is the work-based component of the two interrelated Critical Practice modules. While Critical Practice: Theory asks for students to articulate an ideal of how they would like to practice in the future, this module grounds their speculations in an examination of how they are currently practicing. Using the student’s workplace as the principal site of investigation, it studies the relationship between process and product, ideas and outcomes. The collation of a Critical Practice Manual by the student will demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of their practice experience alongside a detailed analysis of one of the practice’s projects.


Critical Practice: Theory

By Ruth Lang and Peter Buchanan
This module is the school-based component of the two interrelated Critical Practice modules. While the module Critical Practice: Placement examines how the student is currently practicing, Critical Practice: Theory asks for students to articulate an ideal of how they would like to practice. It relates contemporary practice to theories and ideas from within architecture and beyond it, examining the role of the architect in larger contexts, from the construction industry and the creative economy through to humanity and the geosphere. The production of a Critical Practice Manifesto will articulate a personal statement of intent about how the student wishes to operate in the future.


Design Direction

By Steve Smith

Design Direction is the pivot point between the Inter-Practice Year and the Proto-Practice Year. Emerging directly from Design Cities, it begins with a mid-year review of personally conducted research and culminates in a condensed block of teaching towards the end of the year. It draws together the abilities and knowledge developed in the previous modules Design Cities, Critical Practice and the Design Think Tank Project to establish a roadmap for the subsequent modules: Design Thesis, Design Synthesis and Design Tectonics. Progressing from collaborative and professional activities, students will formalise their individual architectural agenda, identifying site(s), programme(s) and demographic group(s) for their Proto-Practice Year design projects.


Proto-Practice Year

We view the Second Year as the first year of a career: that’s why we call it the Proto-Practice Year. Directed by Clive Sall, students are supported to develop their own direction and to set the terms of their own enquiry. Each student develops an individual thesis design project through the year’s five modules.


Spreads taken from the magazine Change, which features the work of our first graduates. See the full magazine here.


Design Speculation

By Clive Sall
Successful students will arrive in the Proto-Practice Year having defined the context for the thesis design project (the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘when’) in module Design Direction and described an ideal of their future practice life (the ‘how’) in module Critical Practice: Theory. Within these chosen personal parameters, the first term of the Proto-Practice Year provides an intense period of design experimentation, developed through two concurrent modules: Design Speculation and Design History. In this module, which is taught by tutors drawn from the Practice Network, students will explore their own approach to how they design, evidenced and tested through an architectural proposition (a building), and triangulated with contemporary and historical precedent. A critical reflection on the result of this module informs the direction of Design Thesis, Design Synthesis and Design Tectonics.


Design History

By Alan Powers
The first term of the Proto-Practice Year provides an intense period of design experimentation, developed through two concurrent modules: Design Speculation and Design History. While Critical Practice: Placement examined the relationship between process and product in a contemporary practice environment, this module applies a similarly critical lens to architectural history. Asking ‘How have architects approached the task of design?’ it considers the confluence of forces that have shaped form and the resulting design paradigms at a number of instructive moments in history ranging from the ancient world to the present. This module culminates in a personal study of an architect from a period appropriate to the student’s critical interests.


Design Thesis

By Clive Sall
Following on from Design Direction and Design Speculation, this module should integrate the knowledge and skills developed in previous modules so participants produce a mature and resolved design proposal, demonstrating progression in terms of scale, complexity and ambition. Design Thesis establishes the brief and sets the terms of the experimentation for the subsequent design components (Design Synthesis and Design Tectonic); while the ‘where’ must be within the borough, the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘when’ could be more wide-ranging in concern, theme and speculation.


Design Synthesis

By Clive Sall
A continuation of Design Thesis, this module builds on the architectural speculations in the first months of Proto-Practice Year, yet with a greater level of attainment. Projects should demonstrate: maturity in its handling of spatial complexity; resolution of the design ambitions; articulation of a clear critical position; appropriate ethical and aesthetic professional judgement; and sophistication in its visual and verbal communication. The module provides the framework through which students develop the technical component of the proposition to demonstrate a level of rigour and precision that provides a real-world constraint to the design, and betters it through iteration. Student projects will be exhibited at the LSA Summer Show.


Design Tectonic

By Lewis Kinneir
Student projects developed as part of Design Thesis and Design Synthesis are augmented and evolved through investigation into how a scheme could be realised, primarily taught through the Practice Network and the range of consultants and specialists connected with it. The module supports students to carry out advanced investigation, analysis, speculation and testing of appropriate strategies for the use of materials, structures and processes in the development of resolved form, enclosure, inhabitation and sustainability.


For further information on details of the programme, please email Operations Coordinator George Shaheen on