Transcript for the video: Postgraduate Landscape Architecture

Andrew Toland (00:00):

Welcome everyone, thanks for joining. My name’s Andrew Toland, and I’m standing in for Professor Penny Allan, who’s the course director of the postgraduate landscape architecture programs at UTS. So before we get started, just a few housekeeping matters. First of all, I’d like to give an acknowledgement of country, very important in a landscape architectural context, obviously. So, I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, upon whose ancestral lands our city campus stance, and I’m also on Gadigal land coming to you out of Zoom today. I’d like to pay my respects to elders, past, present and emerging, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for this land.

This webinar is being recorded. We’re only recording the audio and the screen sharing, we’re not recording any video from you. And the recording is only going to be captured for the limited number of purposes that you see here on the screen. If you don’t want to be involved or recorded, you can withdraw your consent at any time by contacting the email on the slide here. Because this is a Zoom webinar, to ask questions you have to go to the Q and A box at the bottom of your screen, and type your questions in there. We’ll have some time at the end of my presentation to ask questions as well, and so we’ll address them all then. Or we might be able to address them by text as we move through the presentation.

Okay, so I’m going to talk about the two streams of postgraduate degrees that are available in landscape architecture at UTS. There are a set of coursework degrees, and then there are also a set of research degrees. So the coursework degrees, which I suspect might be the ones the majority of you are interested in, the principal one is the Master of Landscape Architecture, which is a degree that’s accredited by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. There are a number of pathways into the Master of Landscape Architecture, if you don’t already have an undergraduate landscape architecture degree, four year undergraduate landscape architecture degree. The first pathway in is the graduate certificate in landscape architecture, which then articulates into the graduate diploma in landscape architecture, which then allows you to go into the two year Master of Landscape Architecture program. But I’ll talk you through with some diagrams, how that works, in a little bit.

In addition to that, we also have postgraduate research degrees in landscape architecture. There’s the Master of Architecture by Research in Landscape Architecture, which can also be done as a design research project. So, that’s an option if you already have an honors undergraduate landscape architecture degree. There’s also the Doctor of Philosophy degree, so you can do a PhD in landscape architecture with us, and I’m supervising, and Penny and some of my other colleagues are supervising a number of PhDs in landscape architecture at the moment as well.

Because I mentioned Penny Allan as the course director, I thought I should give you her direct contact details in case you have any questions for her. You’re welcome after this webinar to email her directly. In fact, that’s a worthwhile thing doing if you’re interested in any of our postgraduate degrees, just to let her know of your interest, and if you have any specific questions for her, or she may choose to just reach out to you and to have that more direct and personal contact, which I think is always useful in these applications. So, that’s her email address there.

The other thing I wanted to share with you, is just how we’re rating as a landscape architecture program generally. So as I said, Penny’s the director of the postgraduate program, I’m the course director of the undergraduate program in landscape architecture. And together, the UTS landscape architectural program was shortlisted this year as one of nine landscape architecture programs, named as a finalist in the International Schools Prize at the Barcelona International Landscape Architecture Bienale, which is the most important and prestigious event in landscape architecture. It’s often colloquially known as the Nobel Prize of landscape architecture. It also has a prize for design as well, which is the big one. We were shortlisted, alongside programs from other leading international universities like Harvard, the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, the Polytechnic de Milano, and Delft University of Technology. We were the only Australian program shortlisted for the prize. And the outputs of our master’s course were instrumental in having a selected number of our master’s students’ work was showcased in our submission for that.

So the other thing that we aim to do in landscape architecture at UTS is to imbue the program, since we’re a university of technology, with advanced technologies and thinking about the way in which they might be applied to landscape architecture, and the way in which that might be used in landscape architectural research. So we use drones, photogrammetry, which allows us to create 3D models of remote landscapes, and the use of big data sets of GIS data, to help us analyze landscapes, everything from the small scale to the very large scale.

So, this is one of the outputs of one of our master’s students from last year, using point cloud data to help better visualize and design for very difficult urban environmental problems. The way in which it might be used to better conceptualize and integrate various, both artificial and natural infrastructure into existing landscapes. Students also learn how to use big data and geographic information systems, to understand landscape and environmental issues at regional scales. And to understand how to use these new tools of analysis alongside traditional methods, to improve the function and restore natural environmental systems, as in this example, which was a community engaged studio up near Byron Bay.

Students also learn how to use robotics and simulation, and how they can be used to address issues like coastal erosion, which as you’ll have noticed in the most recent intergovernmental panel on climate change assessment report six, is a really major issue for Australia coming up. Or how highly detailed computer rendering and virtual reality might help give us more immersive experiences of environmental conditions that don’t currently exist, to help people understand some of the changes that are coming down the line in our environment. So, this is from a studio that Penny and I taught last year.

So, the core of the coursework postgraduate degrees, is the design studio. So even if you don’t have a background as a designer, it’s a double weighted subject. You go to studio twice a week, and it forms the core of your degree. So, we really bring you up to speed with the design aspect of landscape architecture, as well as all of the technical information that you’ll need. But there are also opportunities for more creative, artistic, and speculative approaches in landscape architecture, especially in some of the option studios that exist. We find these really useful ways of speculating about the way that humans relate to their environment, and the role that other beings, non-human beings might have in finding our way to a more ecological future.

So some of the time, our students imagine dystopian fictions, that challenge the way in which we view the natural world as a set of resources. Or they explore extreme landscapes, like in this case Antarctica, or overlooked realms like domains of mossal fungi. And by using creative and artistic techniques to communicate feelings, atmospheres and encounters that exist at the edges of our rational consciousness, they find new ways of relating to the natural world. The other thing that our program aims to do is to engage with questions of nature, culture and politics, in the face of rising crises like bush fires, flood, or indeed the current global pandemic.

So, just to come back to the structure of the various postgraduate degrees, the way in which it works is that you may start out doing the graduate certificate of landscape architecture, especially if you don’t have an existing background in landscape architecture. And so, your application will be assessed on a case by case basis, and you’ll be advised what pathway is appropriate to you. Once you complete the graduate certificate, you can then articulate into the graduate diploma, which is… The graduate certificate I should mention, is six months long. You can then articulate into the graduate diploma, which is a further six months, you come in at the second semester point. Or if you already are committed, you can start out in the graduate diploma of landscape architecture.

And then from there, you go into the first year of the Master of Landscape Architecture program. And then there’s a second year, and that’s the point at which you graduate with an accredited degree, which is one of the central components of going on to become a registered landscape architect. There is a work requirement, so after graduation, you have to have worked in landscape architectural practice, and under supervision for a set period of time, and then you can apply for registration as a landscape architect.

Just to break that down in a little bit more detail, the way in which the graduate certificate and the graduate diploma works, is that they draw from the core subjects of our honors undergraduate degree, to plug any gaps in knowledge, which is why it’s a tailored program. So as I said, design studios are double weighted, they’re 12 credit points. And so in each of the semesters, you do a design studio, and then depending on how you’re advised by Penny, you might take a botany or ecology subject, a history and theory subject, a representation subject, which introduces you to techniques of drawing, technology, things like GIS, things like 3D modeling.

So, those core skills are set down alongside the design studios, and then you articulate into the MLA program where you might continue to plug certain holes by doing subjects like ecology, or infrastructure, or some of the history and theory subjects. You then take on also professional practice subjects, like finance and project management, a subject about the way in which the practice of landscape architecture and architectural firms are changing. And also a subject around advocacy, which is increasingly a major role for landscape architectural practitioners, especially in the current environment. And then of course you continue doing design studios alongside those subjects as well. Including in the final year, a research-driven design studio, which can last either for full year or for six months, depending on your disciplinary background.

So, it’s a very flexible course. To achieve all of this, it obviously involves a lot of making. And so, UTS Faculty of Design and Architecture building has extensive fabrication and production facilities to support all of this, especially when we return to campus. So it has fabrication robots, it has computer controlled milling machines, it has three printers and laser cutters, it has photography studios and sound recording boots, and high-spec computers, and traditional model making and fabrication workshops as well. So, everything you need in order to engage with both the digital production, and the making of models, and making of large scale prototypes that are central to architectural degrees, whether they’re landscape architecture, or architectural, or any of the design things that are housed within our faculty.

Okay, so that’s the end of my formal presentation. I’m sure if there’s anything in there that you have questions about, we could answer those questions now. Maybe I’ll just stop sharing for a second, so I can see the webinar interface. Okay.

Speaker 2 (15:24):

No questions as of yet, Andrew. People might be furiously typing.

Andrew Toland (15:56):

I’m conscious that these Zoom webinars can sometimes be a bit challenging, compared to the old fashioned postgraduate evenings, where we would have just met in person, and it’s much easier to ask the questions verbally.

Speaker 2 (16:12):

We do have a question here from Cassandra.

Andrew Toland (16:14):

Right, great.

Speaker 2 (16:15):

“If you don’t have a design background, would it be likely to take you four years in total?”

Andrew Toland (16:21):

No, if you don’t have a design background, it will take three years in total. So, the year of the graduate certificate, slash graduate diploma is essentially your bridging year. And then in that more complex matrix diagram I showed, there’s flexibility in order for us to take core skill subjects from the honors undergraduate degree, to plug any knowledge gaps that still might exist, especially if you don’t have a design background previously, as you move through the master’s degree as well. So, there are a number of slots where you would otherwise do electives in the master’s degree, four of them in fact, that are used to backfill any technical knowledge by getting you to do those subjects from the honors degree.

Speaker 2 (17:25):

Did anyone else have any questions for Andrew this evening?

Andrew Toland (17:31):

So, the main thing to emphasize is that it’s a very flexible pathway, the coursework degrees, the graduate certificate or graduate diploma, into the Master of Landscape Architecture. So that if you do have any questions, it is always best to discuss them with Penny, and she can best advise you. And the other thing to emphasize, is that you may well get recognition of prior learning coming into the degree, depending on studies that you might previously have done.

Available scholarships, okay. “Can you gain credit…” We might just talk about the scholarships next, because I don’t think I’m best positioned to answer that question, Jess. Jess, do you have information on the scholarships at hand?

Speaker 2 (18:28):

Not specific, but I can put a link into the scholarship search tool, which might help people to assess their eligibility.

Andrew Toland (18:35):

Yes, there are quite a number, but they’re administered at a university-wide level. Except for, I should note, if you are from an Aboriginal Torres Strait islander background, there is a scholarship available funded by one of the landscape architectural practices in Sydney, Arcadia, who sponsor an Indigenous landscape architecture scholarship with us. So, that’s the only course specific one.

“Can you gain credit for subjects from previous undergrad courses?” Yes, you may be able to through the recognition of prior learning system. But again, it has to be assessed on a course by course basis. If you’ve done part of an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture previously, then certainly it might be possible to get direct credit in those specific core areas. Otherwise, the credit is generally applied for elective subjects.

Okay. “I have a five-year bachelor’s degree in architecture from a university in India, which path would you recommend pursuing an MLA degree at UTS? Scholarship opportunities for international students?” So, I think that link that Jess has put into the chat will also hopefully answer your questions about scholarships for international students. If you have a five-year bachelor’s degree in architecture, there are probably still some core landscape architectural subjects that we’ll need catching up on. So, most likely you will proceed via the graduate certificate, graduate diploma pathway. If you’re committed, then you might go straight into the year long graduate diploma pathway. There may be some credits that you’re able to get, but those would need to be again, assessed. So you might potentially take a lighter load over those three years, during various semesters. But again, as I say, it’s a case by case basis. So, I would recommend emailing Penny with details about your previous degree, and those would all be assessed during your formal application process in any case.

Okay, any other questions? “Is it practically possible?” Well, it’s possible if you are choosing to do the course part time. Generally, if you take a full time study load, you won’t really have time to take on additional paid work, certainly not extensive paid work, but it is possible to do the course with a lighter load so you can allow yourself more time to work as well. Many of our students do do that, and do actually take a light load in given semesters. Often if you’re doing electives, you can choose to do the electives during the summer or the winter breaks, which gives you some additional space in your timetable, which also helps with balancing part time paid employment as well.

But generally, it’s worth noting that all of the courses are scheduled during working hours, so it’s generally not possible, it’s not like one of those degrees or programs where you can take classes in the evening, for example, and still work during the day. But it is very common, both in the Master of Landscape Architecture and the Master’s of Architecture for students to be working part-time as well.

Speaker 2 (22:55):

While we wait for any last questions, Andrew, I’ve just put a link in the chat too, both email addresses. You can reach out to us if you have any further questions after the session. But also noting that we are offering one to one 15 minute video chats with Penny herself. You can book a session with her by that link in the chat, to ask any further questions you might have about the courses.

Andrew Toland (23:20):

And I’d strongly recommend taking that opportunity up. Penny’s really lovely, and she will help guide you through what can sometimes seem like a daunting or complicated process.

Speaker 2 (23:56):

That looks like it might be the questions at the moment, Andrew. Thank you so much for… Oh, I spoke too soon.

Andrew Toland (24:04):

Ah, the usual pathway after the course. Well, our graduates have a hundred percent employment rate, I can say, which is very encouraging and exciting. Landscape architecture is definitely one of those degrees where demand is rising internationally. Interestingly, I looked at the data about this recently. The number of landscape architecture graduates has fallen slightly worldwide, which is surprising. So, definitely landscape architecture graduates are in demand, both in Australia and overseas. Usually what you would do after graduation, is that you would seek an employment with a landscape architecture practice, or possibly in government. There’s also significant demand for landscape architecture graduates in both local and state government, especially around issues of planning and organization, and environmental protection.

So, you would go out and do that. You might also seek employment in a large multidisciplinary firm, a firm that contains architects, landscape architects and urban designers and planners. And then as I mentioned previously, once you have completed the designated number of hours that the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects prescribes, then you are able to apply for registration as a landscape architect. It’s maybe worth mentioning as well, that the Australia Institute of Landscape Architects has a number of reciprocal arrangements with other international landscape architectural registration bodies. You can find that information on AILA’s website.

But I know for example, that there’s a reciprocal arrangement with the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, so it’s quite a common pathway for Australian graduates to go and work for a big practice in Hong Kong, where they do a lot of exciting work over all of the region. I used to teach in the landscape architecture program at the University of Hong Kong, and it was a real regional hub for a lot of exciting landscape architectural work across China, India, Southeast Asia, and even Middle East, all run out of the big offices in Hong Kong. But then equally, if you’re more interested in more boutique, individual practice, we have a number of strong connections with very design-led practices in Sydney and around Australia, and you can explore those pathways. Or even non-commercial pathways, generally.

“Is it mostly indoor computer work, or is it balanced with outdoor, hands-on or project management?” So, project management is principally confined to the Finance and Project Management subject. Although you can choose, if you have space in your elective subjects, to do additional subjects in project management, in the School of Built Environment, which really specializes in that area. It’s definitely balanced with outdoor hands-on work, we emphasize site visits and field trips really, really strongly. And in fact, we’re very fortunate being located where we are in the center of Sydney, so we have easy access to the transport routes to go out as groups on site visits. But even from the center of the city, many major recent landscape architectural projects are within easy walking distance, and you’ll find yourself engaged with those. We often get the designers who are involved in those projects, to come in and speak about them. And so, definitely indoor work is balanced with a lot of outdoor activities as well.

Okay, we’ve got a minute left for any last minute questions. Why do I love landscape architecture? Well, because I think it’s, if you see yourself as a designer or a design scholar as I do, it is right at the core of a whole range of issues that are really major issues at the moment. Especially as a result of environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, massive urbanization and climate change. So, it feels that as a designer, you can really get traction on some of those issues, and be really exploring responses to them.

“What’s the upper age range of our graduates?” We’ve had graduate students in their, I don’t know their ages precisely, but definitely we’ve had some quite mature aged students in at least their fifties, I’d say, who are having career changes. Some people who have worked in practice without ever having obtained a formal qualification, who come back to obtain that formal qualification. So, I’d say that there’s no upper age of our graduates. But again, speak to Penny, especially if you’re coming in from a different career. Both Penny and myself are people who have transitioned into landscape architecture, having worked in other careers previously, so not an uncommon experience.

Okay. What do you think, Jess? I noticed that we’ve just clocked over 6:30.

Speaker 2 (30:42):

I can’t see any more questions.

Andrew Toland (30:43):

I can almost fade out into my landscape background here. Oh, there’s one more question. Do I have many… We haven’t had a huge number of graduates come that pathway. That’s simply because we’re a new course, and we haven’t had that many students through the master’s program just yet. Mainly the students that we get have a background, some of them have background in horticulture, so they’ve done horticulture at Tafe, or they’ve done drafting degrees and have found themselves working in landscape architectural practices. And they’ve got to the point in their careers, where they’re ready to take on a more formal, tertiary level qualification.

Speaker 2 (31:42):

Great. Well, there’s no more questions there, Andrew. I’d just like to thank you for such a great session this evening, and thank you to all our attendees for joining us. As I noted before, there’s two emails and that link to book a session with Penny. Any further questions, reach out to us anytime, and we really do look forward to welcoming you to study at UTS next year.

Andrew Toland (32:04):

And thanks so much Jess, for organizing this and for moderating it.

Speaker 2 (32:10):

Thanks everyone, have a great evening.

Andrew Toland (32:12):

Thanks for joining, everyone.