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School of Architecture: Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies

The Bachelor of Architectural Studies Program of Study

Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies
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The Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) degree provides the foundation of skills, knowledge, judgment, and practical experience required for subsequent professional studies in architecture. Though the Academic Program is pre-professional, it is fully dedicated to imparting to students the culture and practice of design. Design is a synthetic activity. To do it well and serve the needs of the individual and society requires an extremely broad education. Students acquire an understanding of the workings of society and culture, of the principles of physics, of materials and techniques of construction, of the human interaction with the natural and built environment, of historical process, of critical thought, and of the diverse forms of creative expression.

Theme Areas

Courses in the Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) degree, are arranged in five main thematic groups:

  1. Design: The practice of design and the understanding of its theories and methods.
  2. Visual and Digital Media: The use of creative and analytical tools and techniques. 
  3. Cultural History and Theory: The understanding of cultural and historical forces shaping the built world.
  4. Technology and Environment: The understanding of materials and methods, building technologies, and environmental issues and systems critical to the making of architecture.
  5. Urbanism and Landscape: An introduction to urbanism and landscape and the organization of natural and human ecologies.


The design courses are the primary focus of Architecture and are informed both directly and indirectly by the knowledge and skills developed in the other theme areas. Design courses are conducted in the form of studios in which students undertake a series of directed design projects, aimed to illustrate and engage practical, theoretical and aesthetic issues of architectural conception, and progressively establish expertise and understanding.

The projects range from fundamental design studies of building elements to large-scale architectural complexes, in exercises which include individual and multiple habitation, design in natural and built environments, development of building programs, studies of principal building types, and urban design. In the final term, design, theory, technology, environment and urban issues are integrated into a major individual project - the comprehensive building design project and technical report.

Visual and Digital Media

The visual and digital media sequence acts as a support for the design studio, introducing multiple methods of visualization that act as communicative, analytical, and generative tools for architecture. These courses build aptitude and understanding in the use of architectural tools and techniques, from hand-drawing and drafting in two dimensions to advanced three-dimensional digital modelling, visualization, and fabrication. At the upper levels of the curriculum and within elective coursework this focus area introduces a range of courses in traditional visual media, as well as, an expanded series of digital offerings in areas such as parametric design, rapid prototyping using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technologies, and interaction.

Cultural History and Theory

The cultural history and theory sequence is concerned with the human imagination, the forms through which it expresses itself, and the larger socio-political contexts within which it is enacted. In these courses, students are exposed to works of history, philosophy, literature and the arts, learning about architecture, urbanism, and landscape within a broad cultural context that enriches their understanding. Architecture is thus conceived as a form of cultural expression and the creative activity of all students takes place against a background of humanistic study. The academic program fosters critical, discursive, and expressive abilities that are essential to the quality of the School and its graduates.

Technology and Environment

The study of the technical aspects of building and design begins with a series of courses that provide students with an understanding of the materials and methods of building construction, structural design and analysis, and environmental issues and their impact on design. Within this sequence students learn not only about the technologies of buildings and their material systems and assemblies, but also about architecture’s essential relationship with its environmental context, as they are introduced to important topics such as sustainability, building energy, and environmental assessment systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED TM). Upper level electives in this sequence give students the opportunity to engage in design-build projects and offer coursework in such areas as materials, advanced structural systems, alternative energy systems and ecological design among others.

Urbanism and Landscape

At Waterloo, students learn about architecture within the larger context of urbanism and landscape, and are introduced to the organization of larger systems, from settlement patterns to the morphology of cities, throughout their education. In this sequence, students are exposed to the principles of urban and landscape design in relation to natural and human ecologies and have the opportunity to study architecture and contemporary urbanism firsthand through the Rome program, one of the essential components of the curriculum, and upper level global cities courses that offer study abroad electives focused on international architecture, urbanism, and landscape in cities throughout Europe, Asia and South America.

Professional Practice

Students gain invaluable architectural professional experience through the co-op program which integrates two years of alternating paid work terms into the pre-professional course of study. Through co-op, Waterloo Architecture students expand their professional education and opportunities as they apply their knowledge and skills within architectural firms all over the world.

Professional Accreditation

The Canadian Architectural Accreditation Board Visiting Team reviewed the professional program in 2011, including the Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture degrees. The team report was presented to the full Certification Board in June 2011. The Board granted the maximum six-year term of accreditation. The Program was deemed to have met all 37 academic performance criteria. The Canadian Architectural Accreditation Board (CACB) accreditation allows University of Waterloo Architecture graduates to directly enter the process of professional licensure in Canada and the United States.

The provincial architectural associations in Canada require that an individual intending to become an architect hold a professional degree in architecture accredited and/or certified by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board. Two types of degrees are accredited by the Board. The first is the Bachelor of Architecture which currently requires a minimum of five years of study (except in Quebec where four years of professional studies follows two years of Quebec Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) studies). The second is the Master of Architecture which currently requires a minimum of three years of study following an unrelated bachelor's degree or two years following a related bachelor's degree. These professional degrees are structured to educate those who aspire to registration and licensure to practice as architects.

Three- and four-year degrees, even when included in reviews of the professional programs, are not accredited by the CACB. These degrees are useful to those seeking a foundation in the field of architecture, as preparation for either continued education in a professional degree program or for other professional studies or employment options in fields related to architecture.

Graduates wishing to proceed to professional registration in Ontario should contact The Registrar, Ontario Association of Architects, for information regarding the work experience and other requirements.

Non-Architecture Students

Students not enrolled in the Architecture Program may take any architectural course listed in the recommended core Program (depending on availability of space) with the exception of courses in the theme area of Design. Prerequisites indicated in the course descriptions are primarily for Architecture students. For non-Architecture students, prerequisite evaluation must be carried out by the respective instructors. Please contact the course instructor or the Undergraduate Officer for Architecture if you are interested in taking any Architecture courses.

Requirements for the Degree of Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies

(Pre-Professional Architecture)

Term Design Visual and Digital Media  Cultural History and Theory  Technology and Environment Urbanism and Landscape  Electives
1A Fall

ARCH 192:
Design Studio
[1.50 units]
ARCH 110:
Visual and Digital Media 1
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 142:
Introduction to Cultural History
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 100:
An Introduction to Architecture [0.50 unit]
ARCH 172:
Building Construction 1
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 125:
Principles of Environmental Design
[0.50 unit]
not applicable not applicable

1B Winter

ARCH 193:
Design Studio
[1.50 units]
ARCH 113:
Visual and Digital Media 2
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 143:
The Ancient World and Foundations of Europe
[1.00 unit]
ARCH 126:
Environmental Building Design
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 173:
Building Construction 2
[0.50 unit]
not applicable not applicable
2A Fall

ARCH 292:
Design Studio
[1.50 units]
ARCH 212:
Digital Fabrication [0.50 unit]
ARCH 246:
Pre-Renaissance to Reformation[1.00 unit]
ARCH 260:
Principles of Structures
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 263
Integrated Environmental Systems
[0.50 unit]
not applicable not applicable
2B Spring

ARCH 293:
Design Studio
[1.50 units]
not applicable ARCH 248:
Enlightenment, Romanticism and the 19th Century
[1.00 unit]
ARCH 276:
Timber Design and Construction
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 225:
Theory and Design of the Contemporary Landscape
[0.50 unit]
Open Elective (any discipline)
[0.50 unit]
3A Winter

ARCH 392:
Design Studio
[1.50 units]
ARCH 313:
Advanced Visualization and Analysis 
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 342:
Modernism to the 21st Century
[1.00 unit]
ARCH 362:
Steel and Concrete: Design, Structure and Construction
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 264:
Building Science
[0.50 unit] 
not applicable 
not applicable

3B Fall
ARCH 393:
Option Design Studio
[1.50 units]
not applicable ARCH 442:
Contemporary Architectural Theory
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 465:
Advanced Structures: Design and Analysis
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 327:
Architecture of the Urban Environment
[0.50 unit]
Open Elective (any discipline) [0.50 unit]

4A (Rome)

ARCH 492:
Design Studio
[1.50 units]
not applicable ARCH 446:
Italian Urban History
or elective
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 449
The Development of Modern Italian Architecture
or elective
[0.50 unit]
not applicable ARCH 428:
Rome and the Campagna (Rome)
or elective
[0.50 unit]
not applicable
4B Spring ARCH 493:
Design Studio/ Comprehensive Building Design
[1.50 units]
not applicable not applicable ARCH 473:
Technical Report
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 425:
Theory and Design of Contemporary Landscape
[0.50 unit]
ARCH 500-level, any two electives from ARCH 510, ARCH 520, ARCH 540, or ARCH 570
[1.00 units total]

Architecture Electives

The Architecture Elective requirement gives students breadth of study and opportunities for research at the upper levels of the pre-professional program in relation to four curricular areas: Cultural History and Theory (ARCH 540), Technology and Environment (ARCH 570), Visual and Digital Media (ARCH 510), and Urbanism and Landscape (ARCH 520). Three electives, one from each of three of these four thematic areas and course elective streams, must be selected to satisfy the Architecture Elective requirement. These courses can be taken in any semester in the third and fourth years (3A, 3B, 4A, 4B) of the BAS program.

Open Electives

The Open Elective requirement gives students some breadth of studies related to their role as educated professionals in society. Three electives from any discipline must be completed to satisfy the Architecture Open Elective requirement. These courses can be taken in any semester in the third and fourth years (3A, 3B, 4A, 4B) of the BAS program.


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