Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

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Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby Lyra » Fri May 28, 2010 11:42 am

Which master course would you choose between:

1. Master track Urbanism at TU Delft (2 years full-time)
2. Urban Design MA at Oxford Brookes University (1 year full-time)

I think TU Delft has a better programme and probably it's a much more interesting place to study as well; it's cheaper too but it's a 2years course which makes Oxford Brookes a 1year course easier to commit to.
Another thought that daunts me, aside from not knowing which Master I should go for. Is it worth taking a career break working as an architect and make a considerable financial effort to do a Master? Will it pay off in the end? I have a passion for urban design and would like to dedicate some time to study this field in more depth, but I could do this from home in my own time. I won’t have the Master degree in the end but wouldn’t I just be in the same position in terms of job prospects?

I’m just curious to know what your thoughts on this are, and what your own reasons for doing a Master would be. I would truly appreciate any comments on this.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby PVC King » Fri May 28, 2010 12:05 pm

I know a few people who have done another course at Brookes; the view is that Brookes is equivelent to or slightly below the standard of DIT; On the negative it was formerly known as Oxford Polytechnic and is viewed very differently from Oxford University. The campus is not in a very nice part of town. On the positive there is a good DIT contingent that go there every year; accomodation is cheap and the qualifications are regarded as being 'industry focussed' versus very academic. Delft is a very pleasant market town.

I'd guess you'd get a job easier from Brookes in the UK or the Far East but if it is an academic career you are after Delft would probably be better. Either way you get to hide from the recession for a year or two which is no bad thing.

Good luck with it.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby Starch » Fri May 28, 2010 4:59 pm

I completed a Masters at Brookes two years ago and I'm now a part three candidate there....first up - Brookes is a very good school, someone mentioned in the post above /below that it's slightly below the standard of DIT- I think that's laughable. I studied at Queen's before and I know someone from every other school of architecture in Ireland and I can say that Brookes would wipe the floor with those schools. It's considered one of the top four in the UK and the best outside of London. Its Masters courses (which have a great range of scope) are hugely respected though I wouldn't personally go for Urban Design. Studios are good- quite funky- open plan designed by Niall Mc Laughlin and Oxford really is a lovely city. The school is much older than the university so wouldn't pay much notice to any snobby opinions...anyhow I enjoyed my time there alot...though I'm sounding a bit to much like an advertisement so I'll stop now.....good luck!...oh one more thing - the best thing about Brookes is the diversity of students...Irish schools are so god damn parochial it annoys me no end!
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby blaise » Sat May 29, 2010 10:44 am

I could not agree more with Starch. I studied at both the DIT and Oxford Brookes where I did the MSc Spatial Planning and I can say that Brookes is way ahead of DIT so Im not sure where that rumour came from. Brookes has a reputation as one of the top UK universities for built environment courses and you can see this if you look at the rankings that papers like the Times and The Guardian do each year. The comparison with the Univeristy of Oxford is very unfair as they have very different aims, Brookes being very vocationally orientated and Oxford Uni being a leader in classical education, so it depends what you are after. There is a bit of snobbery because Brookes was a Polytechnic, but it was reagrded as thebest of the polys and there are excellent lecturerers in your discipline like Ian Bentley who wrote "Responsive Environments". Furthermore, Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in England and there is a good bus/train service into London where you can go on the weekend if you wish. I cant comment on Delft and Im sure its good too but by the looks of it would cost a lot more and I think the Brookes course would tick the box for making you more employable which was certainly my aim in doing a masters.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby PVC King » Sat May 29, 2010 11:58 am

You have summarised it perfectly vocational versus classical; the field I was comparing to is Real Estate where Reading would be the benchmark and DIT ahead of Brookes. You will note I did recommend Brookes as being better for UK/Asian employment and did not thrash their architectural courses. I'd be interested to hear your views on DIT vs UCD architecture as a qualification.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby PlanE » Sat May 29, 2010 2:14 pm

PVC King wrote:You have summarised it perfectly vocational versus classical; the field I was comparing to is Real Estate where Reading would be the benchmark and DIT ahead of Brookes. You will note I did recommend Brookes as being better for UK/Asian employment and did not thrash their architectural courses. I'd be interested to hear your views on DIT vs UCD architecture as a qualification.


why are DIT grads constantly comparing themselves with other schools? Why are they so OBSESSED with others, especially UCD? Could it be a paranoia based on an inferiority complex? Surely not! ;) Having been surrounded by ex-DIT graduates in one office I worked, I can vouchsafe there is a real and rotten parochialism amongst same. Quite a few offices in this country seem to be based on this divide - really sad...
I was aware of Brookes in the top four; I went to a school consistently in the top ten and can happily say that it knocks socks off DIT, therefore Brookes is well ahead. Anyway, after working for several years, the divide tends to lessen. So get with it, stop beating yourselves up about what class or level of school you went to - it only reflects on yourselves.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby PVC King » Sat May 29, 2010 2:22 pm

Not to worried about DIT it would rank 1 in Ireland and probaly 2 in the UK/Ireland for Real Estate which leaves me with a knowledge that I was better prepared day 1; which was a long time ago; no substitute for experience; but if you are going to take a few years out to study you may as well do it somewhere that campus life will be that little bit special. As you will be a long time paying back the loans to do it.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby PlanE » Sat May 29, 2010 2:25 pm

Lyra wrote:I’m just curious to know what your thoughts on this are, and what your own reasons for doing a Master would be. I would truly appreciate any comments on this.


to get back to your question, I find the last part a very interesting poser. I have wondered myself the value of going further with a Masters or Mphil or what have you, but sadly I can't say I believe the industry rewards architects doing further study. Or maybe I'm wrong? I hope so... but it seems there is little prospect unless you're going to teach or write or some such.

Of course, there is the value inherent in doing further study.

But research seems to be an extremely marginal preoccupation. Why is this? For such a broad subject, there are multiple areas of valid research - including at a scientific level, materials or environmental issues for example.

Good question, but I'm afraid I can only offer more comments, no answers - yet! :o
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby soulsearcher » Sat May 29, 2010 8:04 pm

If you're looking for value for money and opening your mind to more European best practice go for TU Delft.

UK universities are way more expensive, as is cost of living compared to holland. That said Oxford Brookes is a good course too.

The 2 year Dutch qualification would certainly help if you're looking for work abroad as opposed to just UK and Ireland.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby Lyra » Sun May 30, 2010 1:45 pm

Thank you all for your comments. It’s very useful for me to get your opinions. I won’t get into which is best DIT or Brookes as DIT doesn’t have an Urban Design Master so I could not compare like with like. Also, a school can only do as much to teach students, it’s really down to the individual to perform at its best. Before I applied to Brookes and TU Delft I’ve done some research into urban design masters in Europe, and my main criteria for selection was value for money in as much as I could quantify it. In the UK it seems that the best Master course in the field of urban design is in UCL but I find it way above what I’m prepared to pay for a Master.

I want to stay debt free and maybe here lies why I find it so difficult to decide if I should do a Master as I want to spend my savings wisely. Probably it would have been much easier to just go for it if I had to spend borrowed money. For me the alternatives to doing the master are: keeping my current soul-killing job or... just take a career break to explore other paths, maybe find a quiet sunny beach and read urban design books :D if that’s my thing and live out from the savings I was planning to pay the master with.

But there is a huge benefit that I see in doing the Master and that is networking and meeting new, maybe likeminded people, especially at postgraduate level I think the students are mature with interesting professional experience and background. Between Brookes and TU Delft, as PVC King was suggesting as well, probably Brookes has a higher percentage of adults that have a few years practical experience in a related field and don’t want to follow an academic route and go for a one year intense course. If I choose TU Delft would probably be more difficult to get back to Ireland for a job that would employ the new skills...I just can’t see how a two years master would improve my career prospects here. At this stage I’m really open to possibilities and I don’t rule out taking the academic route either and go for TU Delft and leave Ireland probably for a very long time if not forever. I know there isn’t a straightforward answer to my question and it’s down to personal choice and circumstances but it’s very useful to know other people’s point of view on the topic.

Apologies as this is turning into a very long post.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby Lyra » Sun May 30, 2010 2:04 pm

Starch wrote:I completed a Masters at Brookes two years ago and I'm now a part three candidate there

Starch wrote:Its Masters courses (which have a great range of scope) are hugely respected though I wouldn't personally go for Urban Design. Studios are good- quite funky- open plan designed by Niall Mc Laughlin and Oxford really is a lovely city. The school is much older than the university so wouldn't pay much notice to any snobby opinions...anyhow I enjoyed my time there alot...though I'm sounding a bit to much like an advertisement so I'll stop now.....good luck!...oh one more thing - the best thing about Brookes is the diversity of students...Irish schools are so god damn parochial it annoys me no end!


Starch, what's the Master you've done?
In terms of atmosphere and the quality of education at Brookes, I’ve heard similar stories to what you are saying. Before I take any decision I’m going to visit the university at the Postgraduate fair scheduled in July... hopefully it will help me decide after I meet some of the lecturers and current students doing the Urban Design Master.
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby Lyra » Sun May 30, 2010 2:34 pm

blaise wrote:I could not agree more with Starch. I studied at both the DIT and Oxford Brookes where I did the MSc Spatial Planning and I can say that Brookes is way ahead of DIT so Im not sure where that rumour came from. Brookes has a reputation as one of the top UK universities for built environment courses and you can see this if you look at the rankings that papers like the Times and The Guardian do each year. The comparison with the Univeristy of Oxford is very unfair as they have very different aims, Brookes being very vocationally orientated and Oxford Uni being a leader in classical education, so it depends what you are after. There is a bit of snobbery because Brookes was a Polytechnic, but it was reagrded as thebest of the polys and there are excellent lecturerers in your discipline like Ian Bentley who wrote "Responsive Environments". Furthermore, Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in England and there is a good bus/train service into London where you can go on the weekend if you wish. I cant comment on Delft and Im sure its good too but by the looks of it would cost a lot more and I think the Brookes course would tick the box for making you more employable which was certainly my aim in doing a masters.


Maybe the fact that Brookes is in Oxford it’s doing it a disservice as people by default wonder how it compares with Oxford University...and as it was said here as well it’s not comparing like with like and what’s the point of doing it then. I’ve considered the Master at Brookes on its own merit and looked at what it offers to students at the moment, notwithstanding what Brookes Polytechnic was or wasn’t years ago.
And as you’ve mentioned it Blaise, I think what matters is that it has leaders in the field lecturing and it offers a diverse and interesting atmosphere.

Carrer/job wise did you see the benefit of your Master degree in Spatial Planning?
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Re: Master at Oxford Brookes or TU Delft ?

Postby Starch » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:12 pm

I did Development and Emergency Practice at CENDEP in the school of architecture
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