Architecture and Politics

Subject ABPL90357 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2015.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 hours per week
Total Time Commitment:

170 Hours


Admission into a course at the Melbourne School of Design.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Architectural & Urban-Design Theory, Social Theory, Architectural History (Australia, Asia, World)

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Environments and Design Student Centre
Ground Floor, Baldwin Spencer (building 113)

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

This subject introduces students to a framework of theories and analytical methods on the relationship between ‘architecture’ and ‘politics’, with a few cases included to explain how an investigation can be conducted using these theories and methods. ‘Architecture’ and ‘politics’ are understood in a broad sense. They include various issues concerning institutional spatial practice, the practice of the profession in historical contexts, and the urban realm as a contested ground. The subject divides the scope of issues into three areas: an analysis of space, a study of historical practice of design, and a critique of urban disposition. The first deals with spatial layout, visibility, the body, knowledge and power relations; the second focuses on agency, ethics and criticality of the architect; and the third explores issues of public realm, typology and the politics of urban disposition for governance and social use.

The subject is multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural; social theories will be included for urban and architectural studies, while Western cases and discourses will be studied along with those from Asia and other non-Western contexts.

Lectures and seminars are organized around these three areas – spatial politics, design practice and the urban ground. Readings will be provided. A list of topics will be provided for students to explore further on these lines of issues.

Learning Outcomes:

This subject aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of issues and topics concerning the relations between architecture and politics, as well as a specific understanding of a particular case or issue in which the politics of architecture is manifested in concrete ways. The subject aims to equip students with a system of theories for their real-world design practice in the area of ethics, politics and spatial-formal design.

Upon completing this subject, students should have obtained:

  • A comprehensive understanding of major topics and issues concerning the relations between architecture and politics;
  • A closer understanding of a specific issue or topic or site or case in which relations between politics and architecture are manifested in tangible ways with precise, material and spatial characteristics;
  • An epistemological foundation with which real-world design practice can be augmented in the area of ethics, politics and spatial-formal distribution.
  • Annotated Bibliography (500 - 1000 words), due week 5 (20%)
  • Final Essay (4000 - 4500 words), due week 12 (70%)
  • Participation throughout the semester (10%)
Prescribed Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Related Course(s): Master of Architecture
Master of Architecture
Master of Design (Urban Design)
Master of Urban Design
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 200 point Master of Architecture
300 point Master of Architecture
Melbourne School of Design multidisciplinary elective subjects

Download PDF version.