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Study curriculum in Architecture

Studies at the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture are divided into semesters. The first two offer an introductory training, followed by four semesters to complete the Bachelor of Science (BSc, three-year degree) and another four for the Master of Science (MSc). The last semester is devoted to the Diploma project. They are supplemented by two semesters of practical work outside the school.

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  • Bachelor and Master of Science in Architecture

    In the first year of the Bachelor of Science (BSc), students will have the opportunity to verify their aptitudes as they establish the theoretical and practical foundations of their education as architects. It will present introductory lessons in the various subject areas of the Academy’s syllabus and gain practical drafting skills in the architectural design studios. The course of studies includes a period of work experience in a firm for a minimum total duration of two semesters, to enable students to acquire the essential skills in using drafting instruments. At the conclusion of the period of practical training each student is required to present the results to an assessment committee that will appraise its validity.
    In the subsequent semesters of the BSc and then the Master of Science (MSc), students will develop their theoretical knowledge and practical skills by attending lectures on historical-humanistic and technical-scientific subjects as well as the design studios (ateliers). In their final semester of the MSc, students will work on a research and study project that will constitute the Diploma syllabus.

    Courses
    The historical-humanist courses and technical-scientific courses fall into four subject areas: Theory of Art and Architecture (which comprises history of art and architecture, philosophy and theory of restoration), Culture of the Territory (comprising urban planning and sociology, urban economics and geography), Construction and Technology (comprising construction techniques, materials, equipment, and building envelopes), Structures and Exact Sciences (comprising mathematics and computer studies).

    Design studios
    Architectural design will be of central importance through the whole course of studies and will be closely related to the teaching of the historical-humanist and technical-scientific subjects. The design work will be organised in design studios. The project themes are defined by the architects-professors and vary from semester to semester. By the end of the MSc each student will have produced nine projects and completed the Diploma work.
    A design studio, guided by a professor or chargé de cours assisted by two architects will have a maximum of 24 students. Attendance at studio sessions is compulsory.
    In the first year of the BSc there will be one more design studio attended by all students (this is why it is termed “horizontal”). In terms of course loads and credits earned, the vertical studios amount to half of the course requirements.

    Paper
    In the years of the MSc course students are asked to produce one theoretical paper on a topic of their own choice with the approval of the teacher.

    Field trips
    During academic year, in addition to visits to the sites chosen for the design studios, there will be field trips linked with the lecture courses.
    Open to students from the second year on, the content of these trips and in some cases the allocation of credits will be decided case by case.

     

    Go to Bachelor in Architecture    Go to Master in Architecture

  • Courses and exams

    The academic year is divided into two semesters: the autumn semester (from September to December) and the spring semester (from February to May) of 14 full weeks each.
    There are three annual examination sessions: winter (January-February), summer (June-July) and autumn (August-September). At the end of each semester’s design work there will be a critique which will have the value of an examination.

    The Academy, to secure Europe-wide parity, adopts the European system for assessing university studies, known as the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Students gain the ECTS credits for each course only by passing the relevant examination. At the end of each semester the student is required to have gained a pass in a design examination plus theoretical subjects for a total of 30 ECTS.
    For more details, students are referred to the Rules of Study at the Academy.

    Discover the courses

     

    Credits

    The Academy, to secure Europe-wide parity, adopts the European system for assessing university studies, known as the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Students gain the ECTS credits for each course only by passing the relevant examination. At the end of each semester the student is required to have gained a pass in a design examination plus theoretical subjects for a total of 30 ECTS.
    For more details, students are referred to the Rules of Study at the Academy.

     

    Rights and requirements of attendance and access

    Attendance at interactive teaching activities (design studios, seminars, workshops) required by the Regulations for Study is usually compulsory. The rules and conditions for admission to the exams are communicated by the teacher at the beginning of the semester
    The student card gives access to courses, the libraries and other university facilities. Staff are authorized to ask students to produce their cards at any time. Smoking is forbidden in all public spaces indoors, including the corridors. The Academy’s regulations apply generally, as well as specific instructions from staff.
    The student’s card gives access to the design studios 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

     

    Auditors

    The courses are open to auditors, but practical exercises, seminars and design studios are not, with the exception of special cases decided by the Academy, which will also fix a limit to the numbers in each class. The Academy establishes at the start of each semester the courses that are open to auditors. The fee is CHF 200 for each course of 24 h (for AVS beneficiaries the fee is reduced by 50%). Students regularly enrolled in other Swiss universities are exempted from the fee. The Academy does not issue attestations of attendance for auditors, except in cases governed by special agreements with specific institutions.

     

    Visiting Students

    Students who have been enroled for at least two semesters at a Swiss or foreign university and are participating in a program of mobility recognized by the Academy may be admitted for one or more semesters with the status of guests. Visiting students remain enroled in their universities of origin where they pay fees. The recognition of courses and examinations is regulated by agreements with their university of origin. Students who are not participating in an exchange program are not accepted as visiting students.

     

    Leave of Absence

    Students may apply for leave of absence abroad lasting one semester or more if due to prolonged illness, maternity, military service or similar justifiable reasons. Leave allows them to remain enrolled, preserving their status as students for bureaucratic reason, and to pay lower fees, but not to take part in any of the teaching activities. Leave of absence is not necessary for attendance at other universities for one or more semesters or for the periods of professional practice (work experience) prescribed by the plan of studies.

     

    Official Language

    The official teaching language is Italian, but individual lectures, courses or design studios and their relevant examinations may be conducted in English, in particular in the MSc cycle. A working knowledge of English is desirable and may be prescribed by the Study and Examination Regulations. By specific request made in good time, and with the agreement of the faculty member responsible for each examination, the examinations may be taken in other languages.

    For students who are not native Italian speakers, the Academy organizes intensive courses in Italian which take place before the academic year. Other courses are offered during the semesters. Various institutions organize courses in Italian for the purpose of attending university courses. For detailed information see the website of the Academy.

     

    Practical information on courses and exams

    Are you already a student of the Academy?

    Click here to go to the Pratical Information section for more information on courses and exams.

     

  • Practical training

    To gain the Diploma (MSc degree), students at the Academy are required to complete an internship in a professional studio, with a minimum total duration of two consecutive semesters, between the fourth and the fifth semester of the BSc course, in order to acquire the essential skills in the use of design tools. At the end of the period of work experience each student has to present the results to an assessment board to judge their validity.

    The internship is also compulsory for students in the Master’s course coming from other universities, if one has not yet been done.
    In the semester preceding the internship, students are offered a series of meetings with the person responsible, who will help them organize the placement and the choice of the professional practice.

     

    More info

  • Design studios

    Architectural design is of central importance throughout the course of studies and is closely related to the teaching of historical-humanist and technical-scientific subjects. The design work is organised in design studios.

    The project themes are defined by the architects-professors and vary from semester to semester. By the end of the MSc, each student will produce nine projects and complete the Diploma work.

    A design studio, guided by a professor or chargé de cours assisted by two architects, typically accommodates approximately 24 students. Attendance at studio sessions is compulsory. In addition, in the first year of the BSc, all students must attend an additional "horizontal" design studio. The design studios amount to half of the course requirements in terms of course load and credits earned.

     

    Go to Design studios

  • Diploma

    The work for the Diploma consists in a project which the student develops in the course of the last semester of the MSc course. A pass gains 30 ECTS. Each Diploma design studio will generally contain a maximum of 12 students, supervised by a professor and an architect-assistant.

    Each year the Commission nominated for the Diploma chooses a single territory as the common theme of all the Diploma design studios. The single territory facilitates the preparation and comprehension of the context in which the project is to be completed. The professors are assured of flexibility in the choice of the different projects regarding the territory chosen. The Diploma semester is to be considered a semester of university studies in every respect and entails attendance at the design studios and participation in the school’s cultural life. The discussion of the Diploma project before the jury is public and constitutes the final examination before graduating as an architect.

     

    More info

  • MSTAA - Master in History and Theory of Art and Architecture

    The Master in History and Theory of Art and Architecture (MSTAA) includes both the study of the history of architecture and art history.
    It is a complete Master with the aim of reversing the growing marginalisation of architecture art history studies. At the same time, the study of architecture and art history in various times in history (the middle ages, the modern age and the contemporary age) is complemented by in-depth studies on the theory and criticism of architecture, artistic literature, the history and practice of restoration (with moments of activity in the field), museology and digital humanities with an eye towards other artistic and cultural expressions (photography, cinema, theatre, literature). Practical workshops and internships in affiliated institutions complete the Master's training offer.

     

    Go to MSTAA

  • Doctoral studies

    At the Academy advanced studies are available leading to the degree of Doctor of Architecture (DrArch), Doctor of Technical Sciences (DrScTech) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

    The doctoral degree certifies that its holder has completed a personal and innovative research project with a notable scientific value. The degree will be awarded after the successfully defence of a doctoral thesis. The bodies responsible for the doctorate are: the Doctoral Board, the Director of Theses and the Thesis Jury.

     

    Go to PhD programme