What matters at SSoA?

At Sheffield we have some key principles that define the School, in particular:

  • an ethos of social responsibility and environmental sustainability
  • an expectation that we will all question and critically reflect on our own work
  • an expectation that we will all question and critically reflect on the practice of architecture now, and in the future, and
  • that we will continue to develop leading ideas in the theory and practice of architectural education.

 marchbub“At Sheffield, there’s a real focus on us [students] as architects and people, rather than just architecture and work.” – MArch student

Therefore, at SSoA…


1. We are inclusive and diverse

SSoA is broad in both attitude and population – our student and staff body represents the most diverse group of nationalities across the entire University.

matbub“Where else do you have such a cross section of cultures and ages..? We all have different backgrounds and experiences, which is great!” – Mature student

2. We are socially aware

The role architecture plays in shaping and reflecting society’s values is important to the School, and we encourage an awareness of social and political agendas.

SSoAbub“We enjoy a reputation for being perhaps the most socially and politically engaged school of architecture in the UK.” – Head of School

marchbub“The school’s social agenda is so important. At a lot of schools, it’s all about the ‘art’ of architecture. When you go into practice you see that architecture is more about people and programme.” – MArch student

3. We strive to be ethically responsible

Social awareness and ethical responsibility underpin our approach to the built environment and the way we believe architectural practice should develop.

SSoAbub“Be ethical, whilst constantly critical.” – Tutor

marchbub“It’s a very different and specific agenda at SSoA. I don’t know anywhere else that has that real focus on research, and on people. It’s unique, and a real opportunity to develop your way of working with others.” – MArch student

4. Our School is student-led

Many of our students take the initiative in arranging events or guest lectures. we encourage our students to develop their own ideas and agendas about architecture.

SSoAbub“Student-led activities include ‘Lunchtime Specials’ series of skill- based workshops; whole school events; postgraduate society; and the ‘Lines of Flight’ research groups… the activities populate the academic year and are of great value in developing students’ resourcefulness, initiative and confidence.” – SSoA

5. We support working ‘Live’

All members of Sheffield School of Architecture are encouraged to explore ‘Live’ ways of working. Some modules are specifically designed to provide experience of Live Projects.

SSoAbub“We believe that engaging with others and with communities outside the University is important…. Engagement within and outside our community of learning is central to our ethos.” – SSoA

marchbub“Doing real projects that affect real people is a great introduction to the MArch course, and the School itself.” – MArch student

6. We develop progressive teaching methods

SSoA is recognised as a world-leader in developing progressive learning and teaching methods in architectural education. Student participation is a fundamental part of our ethos.

marchbub“The course has taught me the process of developing, testing and critically reflecting upon my ideas, which in turn has allowed me to find a way of working that suits me.” – MArch student

marchbub“There’s a great freedom to do and pursue things that you’re interested in through your work.” – MArch student

7. We encourage collaborative and cross-disciplinary working

Interdisciplinary and collaborative work is supported throughout the School, with opportunities to collaborate with other disciplines including landscape, engineering, and urban design.

marchbub“Through the School I’ve been able to get involved with bigger projects, such as Festival of the Mind. It was a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the city and interact with others, as well as being part of a wider initiative.” – MArch student

marchbub“The school is very open to new ideas, and to collaboration.” – MArch student

8. We deliver specific learning experiences

Students at SSoA are taught to use tools such as public engagement, participation, creative site surveys and ongoing reflective review to generate socially aware projects with real and meaningful outcomes.

intpgbub“I really like the participation process here. It might be hard to realise at the same level in China and Sheffield… but I will try to use these methods in design. I studied architectural design before and never thought we could connect what we learnt in the classroom with communities and society.” – MAAD student

9. We continually question the role of the architect

At SSoA we expect our students to actively consider and test ways in which their future practice can shape the built environment.

marchbub“By questioning the role of the architect you are able to really consider how and why we produce architecture.” – MArch student

marchbub“Sheffield expect you to challenge the role of the architect… there’s this expectation that you should be doing something different, thinking about the social purpose.” – MArch student