Manchester School of Architecture: Two universities one course
BA Architecture student Aisha talks about studying at The Manchester School of Architecture (MSA).
Ranked 8th on the QS league table, The Manchester School of Architecture is considered to be one of the best schools of architecture worldwide. It is a renowned school and perhaps the most unique one among the other top 10 universities as it’s a collaboration between two universities; Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester.
This collaboration puts students of the subject in an interesting position as the simple question “Which university do you study at?” opens a pandora box filled with confusion and amusement. This is a characteristic we are most proud of as, in a way, it allows us to feel a unique sensation of belonging throughout the entire Oxford Road.
When I was applying for university, around three years ago, I was anxious, as many are during that timeframe, and very excited. The simple idea of being part of the two universities that two of my friends were applying to, allowed me to be part of both of their worlds, but at the same time I was afraid as I didn’t understand how well the collaboration would work. It wasn’t until I started my first academic year that it started to make sense to me.
How the collaboration works
Being enrolled at two universities, we are given student cards for each which allows us to get full access to all of the facilities available on the two campuses. This ranges from the use of all of the libraries and study places on Oxford Road, to the use of other facilities, such as the two student unions and most importantly, wellbeing sectors.
The School of Architecture is based in Chatham, which is accessed through Benzie, a building where the School of Art operates on the MMU campus. The studio units are conducted from the 5th floor to the 7th whereas the majority of the workshops, such as wood, metal, ceramic and many more, are located on the ground floor. Printers are available in almost every studio and larger prints with different finishes can be conducted on the 6th floor.
The Humanity units are delivered in The University of Manchester’s lecture theatres and it is this division that highlights the very essence of the collaboration. Manchester Metropolitan University delivers the technological and more practical part, whereas The University of Manchester delivers the theoretical part.
The B.15 model making workshop is located on the UoM campus, in the basement of the building where he majority of the lectures were delivered in first year, Humanities Bridgford Street.
Student life with perks
Usually, we access facilities depending on convenience. For example, we mostly use the All-Saints library at MMU for group study spaces as it’s closer to Chatham, whereas we often use The University of Manchester’s main library for research purposes and the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons for study spaces after a lecture.
Many prefer to work in the open studios in the Chatham building as being surrounded by other architecture students gives us extra motivation, as well as giving us the option of taking breaks with course mates. Another advantage of working in Chatham building’s open studios is that we can easily access the AV store, from where we can borrow laptop equipment, and the A4 and more store, from where we purchase the majority of our materials.
Working long hours, even ’til late at night, is the norm for many of us so we have the tendency on preferring places that operate 24/7, such as the All-Saints library at MMU and the Alan Gilbert Learning commons at UoM. The advantage of being a student at two universities is that we have a wide range of study spaces available, so if one is busy, we can always move to another one. The only disadvantage is perhaps the lengths we have to walk on Oxford Road, but then again, these are avoidable if we use the bus service.
Support at MSA
Overall, we mostly interact with our school, if any problem were to arise. Our tutors are our first point of contact and they then refer us to the right facility. Along with that, subgroups of our own main society, Manchester Student Society of Architecture, are very keen on keeping students involved in debates and questions regarding the architectural world.
Just last year another subgroup of the society, MSA&U, was introduced with a focus on the wellbeing of students, a message that it beautifully delivers through its Instagram handle, reminding everyone to take breaks and ways to distract and destress.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say that, although we have the whole of Oxford Road available to us, we live in our own little world, which is so much different but also similar in many ways to other students on the two campuses. We simply are students of The Manchester School of Architecture.