Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)
Based within Manchester School of Architecture, the Master of Landscape Architecture is a route to an internationally recognised qualification in a fast growing, global profession.
The MLA combines an emphasis on individual practice and an exploratory, experimental approach, with a strong professional underpinning. It is both a conversion course for graduates of related subject areas and a final postgraduate year of education for landscape graduates.
The subject has been taught at Manchester Met for over 40 years. Our graduates are world leaders in the profession and have gone on to impressive careers nationally and internationally. Alumni include James Corner of Field Operations, lead designer for the New York Highline, and Jason Prior of Aecom, responsible for the Olympic Park masterplans in London and Rio de Janeiro.
As a part of the Manchester School of Architecture, based within Manchester School of Art, students have access to an impressive range of workshop and studio facilities, based in an award winning building, and all just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.
- A two-year, 300 credit programme, leading to an internationally recognised qualification in a fast growing profession*.
- A conversion course for graduates of related subject areas and final year of study for graduates of accredited UK undergraduate landscape courses.
- Part 1 provides a broad foundation in the discipline, and supports the development of core design and communication skills.
- Part 2 promotes the exploration of individual design practice through experimental studio work as well as individual research.
- An integrated work placement and opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaborations.
- Teaching is delivered by experienced group of core staff, complemented by a wide range of practitioners and academics.
- A study tour and site visits give students direct experience of a range of landscape projects both implemented and on site.
* As a new course, the MLA is currently a candidate for accreditation by the UK Landscape Institute.
2 years (full-time)
4 years (part-time)
Students with a good honours degree in Landscape Architecture may enter directly into Part 2 of the programme (1 year full-time or 2 years part-time).
The MLA places emphasis on an understanding of landscape as a dynamic and adaptive phenomenon. Projects promote a focus on the interfaces between the landscape as a human, cultural construct and as a reflection of underlying natural and environmental process. Design Ateliers explore themes of global relevance through the study of a specific landscape from a regional scale, progressively down to the detailed scale of material and technological resolution. There is a focus throughout on applying contemporary theoretical ideas and technologies to address the challenges of the landscapes explored.
The course has very strong links to practice. Students are exposed to a range of practitioners and their work throughout the course and gain individual experience through a combination of a direct professional engagement and a theoretical series of lectures and seminars.
Part 1 provides a broad foundation of knowledge and skills in landscape architecture for students wishing to convert from related subject areas and for overseas students who may benefit from the transition to a different cultural and professional context.
- Through Atelier Units students develop techniques of reading and landscapes, and the design and communication skills needed to propose transformations.
- Core drawing and software skills are developed through focussed support sessions.
- Landscape Studies provides a foundation in core areas of theoretical and technical knowledge.
Landscape Atelier 1a
This unit provides an introduction to the multi-faceted idea of ‘landscape’. Through engagement with specific locations and testing a range of communication skills, you will explore some of the main factors in the production and evolution of landscape form, function and character. These experiments will lead to the development of strategic propositions which will form the foundation for subsequent work.
Landscape Atelier 1b
This atelier will focus on the process of intervention in a landscape in response to readings articulated in the first unit. You will test ideas against specific site contexts and refine a design proposition at various scales, exploring various techniques for the resolution and communication of proposals and evolution over time of the resulting landscapes.
Landscape Studies 1a
An introduction to some of the core areas of history and theory underpinning the study and practice of landscape architecture. Through this unit you will develop an understanding of the historical background and development of the profession and key theoretical themes associated with different historical stages.
Landscape Studies 1b
This unit will focus on the period of emergence of landscape architecture as a recognised profession and discipline in its own right, roughly from the end of the 19th century to the present day. It will explore key concepts and writings in a range of fields which have contributed to contemporary discourse in the field today.
Landscape Studies 2a
This unit will provide an introduction to the characteristics and applications of a range of plants for the landscape architect and an awareness of key principles for developing planting strategies and approaches to design.
Landscape Studies 2b
This unit looks at vegetation typologies and their relationship to environmental and cultural context, exploring the relationship that exists between human use and occupation and the type, characteristics and values of vegetation whether designed or accidental.
Part 2 provides a final year of education for both landscape graduates and conversion students alike, and encourages a much greater degree of autonomy and the opportunity to develop personal practice through both design and research based work. A strong professional element underpins the whole year. Key points:
- Atelier Units encourage students to apply theoretical ideas and agendas to a specific landscape context and to develop individual trajectories rooted in their personal strengths and interests.
- A Vegetation Calendar runs as a continuous thread through the Part 2 Atelier Units.
- Students gain both direct personal experience as well as a theoretical understanding of the professional context of the subject.
- A Dissertation unit provides a framework for more detailed individual research into topics of personal and professional interest.
Dissertation and Exhibition
This is a research based unit, which aims to frame and contextualise MA work, individually and collectively. While the atelier units involve the exploration and testing of ideas in a given geographical and cultural context, this unit will provide a structure within which students can pursue their own individual interests, exploring historical and theoretical themes, experimental technological solutions or professional contexts in greater depth. Students will be encouraged to undertake research which develops and complements aspects of their atelier work and finally to present this as an extended piece of individual written and illustrated work and a group exhibition.
Landscape Atelier 2a
An exploration of a number of central ideas, of relevance to contemporary discourse in landscape architecture, leads to the development of a ‘manifesto’. This forms the basis for readings of a selected location, and for the development of a strategic proposition for intervention in the landscape concerned.
Landscape Atelier 2b
In this unit, you will identify a more specific location in which to test and develop design proposals framed by the strategic propositions articulated in the previous unit. The physical manifestation of their ideas will be generated through detailed analysis of relevant precedent studies, theoretical readings and a series of experimental exercises in visualizing conceptual ideas and processes.
Landscape Atelier 2c
A final atelier unit, which focuses on the detailed resolution of proposals. This will involve an exploration of how landscape form and function may be generated through the control of environmental, technological and cultural systems, initiated by the appropriate application of construction technologies and the specification and management of vegetation systems.
Landscape Profession and Practice
An introduction to landscape architecture as a profession and practice, providing an overview of the legislative and institutional context of the profession as well as an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the landscape architect to society, the environment and other professionals. A placement or external collaboration provides first hand experience of life in a landscape practice and of the application of knowledge and skills acquired within a professional context.
The course has a very close relationship to practice and students are exposed to practitioners in a wide range of ways throughout the syllabus. The Landscape Practice and Profession Unit generates understanding of the ethical, legal and professional context of the subject through both theoretical lectures based work, and direct personal experience. This may be through a 3-month work placement in a relevant practice or through a range of alternative means such as involvement in a client-led brief, or an external competition.
100% of graduates over the last two years have found employment in the profession, many due to connections established during the course. You may find employment in private practices specialising in landscape architecture or as part of multi-disciplinary practices. Alternatively, opportunities may exist in the public sector or non-profit making organisations. Many alumni have gone on to positions of responsibility in major international firms and have been involved in the delivery of landmark projects around the world.
- Edward Fox
- Luca Csepely-Knorr
- Ian Fisher
- Becky Sobell
Part 1 Entry
Students eligible for the MLA will normally have a minimum of a second class degree in a closely related subject area. The following disciplines are typical although this is not an exhaustive list and the suitability of all applicants will be assessed via a combination of portfolio and interview:
- Design for the built environment including: Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, Interior Design, Garden Design
- Other design or arts related disciplines may also be considered, including: fashion, film, graphics, product design, etc
- Land or plant-based sciences including: Geography, Horticulture, Forestry or agriculture, Ecology, Environmental science and management
- Engineering, including especially: Civil, hydrological and structural engineering
International Students with a closely related qualification from their country may be eligible for Part 2 entry, but, in the majority of cases, a 2-year course is required in order to adapt to the specific professional and cultural context of the discipline in the UK.
Direct Part 2 Entry
Candidates with a minimum of a second-class degree in an accredited UK undergraduate Landscape Architecture course will normally be accepted directly into Part 2 of the MLA. Candidates from other countries with an IFLA recognised undergraduate qualification of an equivalent standard may also be eligible for direct entry at year 2.
Candidates from other very closely related disciplines (principally Architecture and Urban Design) may be considered, subject to providing evidence of a Level 6 understanding and knowledge of additional subject areas specific to landscape architecture.
How to Apply
Where portfolios are required, these will initially take the form of an online portfolio of up to 10 pages. In a few cases, a more detailed portfolio may be requested for presentation at interview. Portfolios should be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate a range of relevant skills, areas of knowledge and interest of relevance to the criteria outlined above. Students without a background in art and design may provide evidence of suitability through: written reports, summaries of research, annotated photography or drawing to demonstrate observation and understanding of places and landscapes, or technical drawings and specifications. Evidence of software skills or communication techniques is valuable but should be complemented by other types of media and presentation. We look for a range of skills and evidence of aptitude rather than polished pieces of finished art or design work.
Fees (2016 Entry)
UK and EU student fees are £1155 per 30 credits. Non-EU international fees are £2217 per 30 credits. Part 1 of the MLA consists of 120 credits, Part 2 is 180 credits.
Eligible alumni receive a 20% discount on their postgraduate tuition fees. Find out more about our Alumni Loyalty Discount.
If you require any further information about this course please contact us using our Course Enquiry Form.
The Landscape Profession
Landscape Architecture is a fast-growing global profession, with a central role in developing solutions to some of the major societal and environmental challenges of the 21st century, such as addressing climate change; building liveable and sustainable cities; creating healthy environments and promoting community identity and cohesion.
For further information about landscape architecture as a discipline and about employment opportunities or the route to a professional qualification, see the Landscape Institute website and also bealandscapearchitect.com
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