Bachelor of Arts, Architectural Studies


Architecture is both a profession and a discipline of study, relating to a broad spectrum of career opportunities. As a profession it plays a pivotal role in the production of the built environment, bridging the technical and social, practical and theoretical. It is a cultural and artistic practice that is critically engaged with the forces of urbanization and technological change, the challenges of environmental sustainability, and the struggle for cultural expression. It involves the design, production, and organization of material culture from the scale of domestic objects to the scale of the metropolitan region. As such, studies in architecture interact with numerous related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, as well as engineering, technology, and media.

These studies may lead to professional graduate programs in architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design, as well as careers in related design disciplines, the arts, history, business, journalism, and public policy.

Architectural Studies Streams

The program in architectural studies initiates students into the discipline of architecture, using it as an unparalleled lens through which to pursue a liberal arts education. We are committed to establishing design thinking as an important complement to the humanities and science focus at the University of Toronto. The aim of the program is to produce a cohort of graduates with visual literacy and the kinds of critical skills that will prepare them to pursue multiple career paths in fields such as architecture, landscape, urban design and other cultural enterprises that are emerging from our changing societal context.

Architectural Studies begins with an introduction to the fundamentals of the field through design, history, and technology/computation. This foundation helps students understand the variety of graphic, writing, and calculation-based practices that constitute the field. Students within the program take two years of common courses in the design, history, and technology of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism before having the option of focusing on a stream with a particular emphasis. In these streams, the two-year core is built upon through increasingly complex design problems and more advanced topics in the history and technology of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Following the first two years of study, students have the option of further focusing their degree by electing to pursue one of three streams: Design or History & Theory or Technology. Students may also elect not to focus their course of study and can pursue a Comprehensive Specialist stream, allowing more flexibility to simultaneously pursue Majors or Minors in other areas at the University of Toronto, with the aim of customizing their own degrees.

Design of Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism

The Design Specialist stream, oriented towards design, is ideal for students who choose to explore, and focus their studies on the technics and methods associated with design, and design-based processes. Graduates of this stream can choose careers in design as well as in other creative media and building-based industries, or pursue graduate degrees in a range of disciplines, including architecture, landscape and planning. The primary goal of the program is to familiarize students with some of the fundamental techniques of the design process, building on the Daniels Faculty’s ethos of thinking urbanistically across all the scales and material dimensions of design practice. The curriculum consists of two general introductory and two intermediate elective studio courses in architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism, complemented by required and elective non-studio courses in the areas of design, history, theory, and technology.

History and Theory of Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism

The History and Theory Specialist stream, oriented towards the humanities, is ideal for students who choose to explore, and focus their studies on reading, writing, and researching in the area of history and theory. Graduates of the program can choose careers in architecture and design as well as in criticism, media, and curatorship, or pursue graduate degrees in a range of disciplines, including architecture, landscape and planning.  Students are encouraged to formulate critical strategies in an attempt to understand the social, cultural, and political contexts of the built environment. In the final two years of their study, students focus more intently on courses that directly relate to the history and theory of architecture, landscape, or urbanism.

Technology of Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism

The Technology Specialist stream, oriented towards applied technology, is ideal for students who choose to explore, and focus on new technologies that are related to the design and design-engineering disciplines. Graduates of the stream can pursue careers in design as well as in a broad range of disciplines and industries that are being transformed by new digital and design-engineering technologies, or pursue graduate degrees in a range of disciplines, including architecture, landscape and planning. The stream is designed to acquaint students with quantitative techniques and computational thinking, in ways that will allow them to creatively adapt some of these strategies to design. The program encourages an approach which spans the disciplines of computational geometry, parametric modelling, computer graphics, architecture, structural engineering, and environmental design. Upper-level courses in the Technology stream will be studio- and or workshop-based with an emphasis upon coding and prototyping; advanced elective offerings in this sequence include topics such as landscape ecology, simulation, building information modeling, hydrology, and courses focusing on the relationship between materials and infrastructure.  

First Year Courses

While the disciplines of architecture and art are understood to be distinct, we take advantage of the symbiotic relationship between them by offering a series of first year courses that students in both the Architectural Studies and Visual Studies are encouraged to take. The series includes two lecture courses in the history of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design; an introductory architecture studio about the design process; a workshop-based course on artistic production (Visual Strategies); and a lecture course on contemporary art practice and critical discourse.

"Critical Perspectives (Ways of Looking)" is a co-curricular initiative offering a number of resources and events - a Reading List, Video Interviews, summer Writing Workshops and a Film Series - to First Year students.

For information on admissions, how to apply, and Fall Campus Day, please visit the Admissions section of our website.

Academic Calendar

For more information about the structure of this program, please refer to our current students' Academic Calendar.

Header Image Credit: Project Horizon–SickKids Expansion, 2018, designed by Yi Zhang.