Master of Design Administration (MDA)

The Master of Design Administration, or MDA, is a new programme that aims to equip students with the expertise necessary for the successful administration and management the design process in the procurement of buildings. It is intended to fulfil the growing need for experts in design management, working within consultancies, or in contracting or specialist contractor firms, or in client bodies.

The programme combines management and legal aspects of procurement with a unique focus on design aspects, addressing current topics of key interest to construction professionals. It is taught by blended learning methods, which comprise distance learning supplemented by Cardiff-based short courses, and is undertaken while students are working in practice. The distance learning element comprises a series of set tasks, supported by on-line seminars and tutorials and regular written feedback. The short courses are a wonderful opportunity for the students to meet each other and those that teach on the programme.

Although new, the MDA has been developed from an existing degree that has been running very successfully for over twelve years.  It receives excellent feedback, and has been commended by the RIBA over successive visits. We have taken the best elements of the existing degree and combined them with several new features, to create an exciting and unique programme. The particular blend of topics offered, and the title MDA, are unique so far as we are aware.

This programme is led by Professor Sarah Lupton, a personal chair at the Welsh School of Architecture and a partner in Lupton Stellakis architects. She is dual qualified as an architect and as a lawyer. She lectures widely on subjects relating to construction law, and is the author of many books, including ‘Design Liability in the Construction Industry’, a series on standard form building contracts, and ‘Which Contract?’, and is co-editor (with Manos Stellakis) of a series on legislative controls. She contributes regularly to the International Construction Law Review, and acts as an adjudicator and expert witness in construction disputes. She is Chairman of the CIC Liability Panel and a member of the RIBA President’s Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution.

Features of the programme

  • Combines management and legal aspects of procurement, with a unique focus on design aspects
  • Addresses current topics of key interest to construction professionals, including cutting edge procurement arrangements
  • Based on acclaimed research expertise within the Welsh School of Architecture and run by a leading author and expert in the field
  • Delivered by a team of invited expert academics and professionals
  • Study while you work in practice; this course is taught by distance learning and Cardiff-based short courses, where the emphasis is on workshops and group working
  • Available as a one year full-time or three year part-time qualification
  • Benefit from a small cohort size, interactive workshops and master classes, group working and peer review
  • Assessment methods via a wide variety of written assignments, no examinations
  • Supported by an active alumni network.

The MDA is intended for those who have a degree in a design, construction or building management field, for example architects, engineers, contractors and client representatives. All those registered on the course would normally be in employment, with several years experience, but may be looking for promotion to a more senior design management position, or perhaps to set up their own firm. Many graduates from the existing degree have gone on to become partners or directors of a firm within a relatively short time.

In the short film below, Professor Sarah Lupton describes details of the programme, features and facilities, and employability.

What our students say

“Coming to Cardiff for a week enables you to get more fully rounded understanding and knowledge of a topic, which means that you can go back to your practice and apply what you’ve learnt straight away. We do a lot of group work, but we also socialise. I would say that the course has helped me to get the job I’m in now.” Katherine Jones

For more information on course content, structure, fees and how to apply, please visit our Master of Design Administration (MDA) course information page.



Read our step by step guide to the postgraduate application process and see the criteria required for your programme of study.
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