Form and Politics in Architecture

Subject ABPL90357 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
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:

Architecture Design, Desighn Thinking

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:


Assoc Prof Jianfei Zhu



The Eastern Precinct (building 138)
(between Doug McDonell building and Eastern Resource Centre)

Current Student:

Subject Overview:

In design thinking and practice, there is a schism between ‘formal’ and ‘political’ (or compositional and socio-political) considerations. This subject provides a study of the relations between form and politics, in an attempt to fill up this critical gap. Ideas and theories of form and of politics are introduced. Under the category of ‘form’, visual, formal, spatial, aesthetic, compositional, syntactical and organizational issues will be introduced; whereas under the concept of ‘politics’, issues of the nation, the city, the institution, micro spatial politics, the body, visibility, knowledge, design ethics, design criticism, spatial and urban planning, and art-politics relations, will be introduced and explored. Multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural, the subject also aims to test western ideas and Asian cultures in an attempt to forge a constructive dialogue between the two systems.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon the completion of this subject successfully, students will obtain:

  • A broad knowledge of the issues concerning form, politics and their relations
  • A set of ideas, theories and case studies in which form-politics relations are explored and studied
  • A deeper knowledge and an insight obtained from a self-driven and self-defined mini-thesis on a specific idea or case
  • Skills of deep/close reading
  • Skills of catalogue/bibliographic research
  • Basic skills of critical analysis
  • Skills of writing
  • Skills of presentation
  • Proposal for a mini-thesis topic (equivalent to 500 words), due Week 3 (10%)
  • Annotated bibliography for a mini-thesis (equivalent to 1000 words), due Week 6 (20%)
  • Powerpoint presentation of the mini-thesis (10 mins, equivalent to 1000 words), due Week 9 (20%)
  • Final submission of the mini-thesis (equivalent to 3000 words), Week 12 (50%)
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

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